November 2012 Scientific American

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November 2012 Scientific American

Postby Lincoln on October 17th, 2012, 3:03 pm 

This isn't a book, movie or podcast, but the category is perhaps the best match.

I invite the readership to take a look at the November 2012 issue of Scientific American. The cover article, penned by yours truly, discusses some new efforts to see if the quarks and leptons of the standard model of particle physics might themselves consist of even smaller building blocks.

This is online, but it's only a teaser paragraph.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-inner-life-of-quarks

[Curious...I can now see it all. I wonder if they somehow gave me permission, or they just opened it entirely?]
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Re: November 2012 Scientific American

Postby Paralith on October 17th, 2012, 3:32 pm 

The full article is viewable to subscribers, but not to the rest of us. Sounds interesting, I'll try to check it out.
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Re: November 2012 Scientific American

Postby genemachine on October 17th, 2012, 3:45 pm 

Unfortunately I can only read the preview. The article title for me is "The Inner Life of Quarks [Preview]" is and there is an explanatory sentence below the article: "This article was originally published with the title "The Inner Life of Quarks."".

Congratulations and well done. I wish I had enough understanding to ask a smart question. I'll look for it in the newsagents.
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Re: November 2012 Scientific American

Postby BioWizard on October 17th, 2012, 3:59 pm 

Seems like an interesting read. I could only access the preview from my iPhone. I wonder if we have a subscription to SA. I will try from my lab PC later.
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Re: November 2012 Scientific American

Postby Lincoln on October 17th, 2012, 4:10 pm 

This seems to work.

Go to my author's facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Don-Lincoln/100958137881

On it, you can click on the link and you can read the article. I dunno why. I think they just like me.

But the print version is way more awesome. So go and buy a copy anyway. Plus they have a cool article on science and the presidential election and how penguins evolved. You can't beat that kind of awesome science!
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Re: November 2012 Scientific American

Postby genemachine on October 17th, 2012, 4:35 pm 

I can confirm that the Facebook link works for me.
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Re: November 2012 Scientific American

Postby genemachine on October 17th, 2012, 8:11 pm 

Great article Lincoln. Very comprehensible considering the topics covered. I now have a much better understanding of what you guys are doing at Cern beyond looking for the Higgs Boson (but that's perhaps not saying a lot).

There's definitely something ugly about the huge mass differences in the Quark generations. I look forward to hearing a good explanation of why this is.

I've always imagined that some variant of Loop Quantum Gravity, possibly digital, would be correct, but that's perhaps because I find it easier to imagine than the multiple "compacted" extra dimensions of string theory and it's accompanying equations. I may also have spent too much time on computers and reading Wolfram's ANKOS. It's interesting to read about Bilson-Thompson's efforts to reconcile LQG and the Standard Model.

Thanks for a good read and good luck figuring this all out.
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Re: November 2012 Scientific American

Postby Dave_Oblad on October 17th, 2012, 8:40 pm 

Hi Don,

I too found no problem reading the article from your FB link. Really great stuff. Remember the idiom "It's turtles all the way down."? Seems likely that there will be structure and symetries... "all the way down"..lol.

Oh.. will you find any time to take a peek at my "Quantum Time" question in the Physics Forum? I know enough information isn't given for an accurate answer, but I'm only looking for a general answer to confirm a generalized concept.

What's the latest on your TED presentation? I haven't heard anything new in many weeks.

Best regards,
Dave :^)
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Re: November 2012 Scientific American

Postby Marshall on October 17th, 2012, 9:03 pm 

Bravo Lincoln!

Great venue to publish in.
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Re: November 2012 Scientific American

Postby Lincoln on October 17th, 2012, 10:27 pm 

Hi Dave,

No luck on the TED thing. They ended up picking 0.2%, so I don't feel so bad. However, I am working with them doing some animations. I write the script and do the voice over work and they pay some young tyro to do the animation. I've seen one of them almost done and the animator does magic. These videos are supposed to be an ongoing thing. I'll post it when it's done.

Thanks Marshall...I used to like SciAm more before I did research for so many years. Now I prefer Science. But SciAm hits half a million customers and 1.0-1.5 readers, so it's a better place to publish. Plus they have better graphics designers doing the art.

Gene....I look forward to an explanation myself. If me and my postdocs do it, it'll be the collaboration leaders that go to Stockholm, but at least we'll have sliced deeper into the subatomic onion, peeling back yet another layer.
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Re: November 2012 Scientific American

Postby Ursa Minimus on October 18th, 2012, 10:16 am 

That is an excellent article. Nice flow, good detail, easy to follow without too much background.

The editor in me has to ask, is the leaner style post introduction intentional? I found the tone a bit different, due to the adverb/adjective use early on (preview paragraph) compared to later in the text.

First paragraphs are tough, which is why I ask how you approached this one.
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Re: November 2012 Scientific American

Postby Lincoln on October 18th, 2012, 10:34 am 

Writing for SciAm is a bit of a pain...or at least a more complex process than many other periodicals. (If any SciAm editors read this, I love you all!!!) I think it's because most of their authors are academics with minimal experience in popularizations and they are used to doing major rewrites of what they receive. I have written many similar articles, but for SciAm I had to write four distinct intros before they found one they liked. Then there was impact by one editor who left SciAm just as the edits were complete and another editor appeared who wanted things reworked in different directions. Then the senior editors and copy editors added their two cents.

I would estimate that the published article is about 60-80% mine, with "alien DNA" interspersed throughout. They preserved enough of my voice that I hear it, but they homogenized it enough that I can hear the other voices.

In contrast, other magazines do it differently. One editor was absolutely brilliant. They tweaked my text a tiny amount, preserving my voice strongly, but turning the resultant text into something good enough to be in The New Yorker. In contrast, a different publication turned my article into something suitable for those readers who have difficulty with Dick and Jane. Yet another publication published my text nearly-verbatim.

But it is what it is...editors will do what they will do. They have a better understanding of their readership than the author does. Plus the editors and authors have common goals. It's been years since I had much discomfort with the editorial process. Well over a quarter million words popularizing science will do that to you.

In summary, I'd have to do a comparison to my sumbitted version 4.0 to the text to see who did what where.
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Re: November 2012 Scientific American

Postby Natural ChemE on October 24th, 2012, 2:23 pm 

Lincoln,

Now your article’s going to wind up in households, dentists’ waiting rooms, and other places where many people - including kids who are still forming ideas about their interests and what they want to do with their lives - can pick it up and be bedazzled what they find. The beauty of this is that it pulls people who were not already in the scientific community towards it.

I wonder how many future scientists you'll inspire?
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Re: November 2012 Scientific American

Postby Lincoln on October 24th, 2012, 10:29 pm 

Ursa,

I actually do remember how I got here.

Natural...

I don't know, but I hope some. A SciAm article directed my graduate school choice, so it happened to me too. I do get an occasional but rare contact with some young person who tells me that something I wrote was why they selected the major that they picked. It's rather gratifying and rare enough to not get blase about.
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Re: November 2012 Scientific American

Postby Natural ChemE on October 25th, 2012, 3:17 am 

Lincoln,

SciAm and Popular Mechanics were probably some of the first portals I had into the whole world of Science. I ended up bugging my parents ‘til they finally let me go to college. This gave me a huge head start on life, and I’m not sure how I would’ve even known to head in that direction if not for the awesome magazines that testified to the fact that there was something amazing out there to pursue.

I’d like to think that there are still young people out there who, amazed by what they see in the world around them, can’t wait to start the pursuit of understanding. I doubt that many of them will write you, but I think it’s reasonable to assume that there are going to be a lot of young minds out there reading over your article and thinking that what you’re talking about is one of the coolest things that they’ve ever heard of.
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Re: November 2012 Scientific American

Postby Lincoln on October 25th, 2012, 7:44 am 

Natural,

Yes....I hope you are right. I am a scientist in part because of popularizers in the 1970s. My own family had a modest education, with graduating high school by no means assured. I was the first to go to college. I credit some, such as Carl Sagan, James Burke, George Gamow and others for opening my eyes to the wonders of the natural world.

If I have a fraction of their success, I will have made a contribution.

One thing that is true is that with the books and the fair presence in articles and online, I occasionally receive both thanks and...ummmmm....creative....emails. There was definitely a spike in both when the SciAm article came out. My personal favorite "I read with interest your article on preons, but apparently you are unaware of my own work on the subject [self-published book reference given]. It deftly weaves together the ideas of Aristarchus and Kant on the nature of being to reveal a deeper level of matter than appreciated by modern scientists. Perhaps you could revise your work after you have familiarized yourself with my insights, etc., etc., etc." It felt right at home, like a post on Alternative or PCF....
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Re: November 2012 Scientific American

Postby Forest_Dump on November 14th, 2012, 1:21 pm 

Well, despite or because of all the hubbub, etc., I have had to deal with recently, I only managed to get a copy yesterday and read your article this morning - with my first coffee and before 6 am. Absolutely loved it and spent quite a bit of time categorizing why I liked it so much (in no real order).

1) Maybe the first thing was I bit of a laugh I got with the line just above the first break: "...- is gaining speed and..." I thought a nice pun coming from an accelerator guy. Well, at least it gave me a chuckle.

2) I liked the fact that it was minimal math. (Seems physicists often need English as a second language course in order to converse without using formulas.) In fact, after reading this, I almost believe I can have a bit of a conversation with a physicist about what it is they actually do.

3) You managed to explain things without it sounding like a new dogma but actually made it clear some of the more work that needs to be done (hence I, for example, would be more inclined to support the funding) and your enthusiasm without sounding patronizing.

I could go on but bottom line, I think this was a terrific article and I will be recommending it to a couple people who I know have an interest in science but not necessarily the full education background (often because they have been intimidated in the past, particularly by the math requirement).

Lincoln, IMHO, this is a terrific piece of making hard core science digestible for the general public and you really seem to have a gift for it. Frankly, I have been agonizing about a tome I started on (and I think will take me a few more years to fully to pull together) that I hope will take some fairly complex ideas but make them palatable for the general public. This piece of yours was actually kind of inspirational to me today so please accept my kudos on this one. Job very well done.
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Re: November 2012 Scientific American

Postby Lincoln on November 16th, 2012, 3:50 pm 

Thanks. I'd like to take credit, but as I've said elsewhere, only some 70-80% or so of the text is mine (all the good bits, naturally) and the rest is the editors' (plural). That particular project was a bit of a mishmosh, with a primary editor disappearing mid-project.

Translating the complex into simpler and more accessible terms is something I like to do, so I'm glad to hear you thought it was effective. I do hope your project comes through to fruition, but keep in mind that frequently the writing of the project is by far the easiest phase. It's best to involve the publisher at the outset. As irritating as editors can be, they have a vested interest in helping you make your project as accessible and as successful as possible. After all, the better your book sells, the more money they make. Further, if you sell it before you write it, there is a much higher chance that you'll see it on the shelves, rather than an unbound manuscript at the bottom of a desk drawer. Life's too short for that particular outcome.

(And if your buddies like the article, there are a couple of math-free physics popularizations I could recommend.)
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Re: November 2012 Scientific American

Postby wolfhnd on November 16th, 2012, 4:24 pm 

Congratulations Lincoln.
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Re: November 2012 Scientific American

Postby Forest_Dump on November 16th, 2012, 4:26 pm 

Lincoln wrote:(And if your buddies like the article, there are a couple of math-free physics popularizations I could recommend.)


Please do. I would probably enjoy them myself.

Lincoln wrote:Further, if you sell it before you write it, there is a much higher chance that you'll see it on the shelves, rather than an unbound manuscript at the bottom of a desk drawer. Life's too short for that particular outcome.


Noted. At this point, I am working on this more for my own interests as a kind of experiment and, if necessary, I can probably get it published through some very local, parochial outlet but if it does come together in a way I can be satisfied with, I will then look for something else and hopefully won't mind the editing. But what I have in mind is a bit different from anything else I have read in archaeology so I want to play with it for a while yet before committing myself to producing a finished product.
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Re: November 2012 Scientific American

Postby Lincoln on November 16th, 2012, 4:42 pm 

Thanks wolfhnd.

Forest...regarding the books...well...ummm...let's just say that you know the author. And they're available on Amazon. And they make delightful XMAS presents. And the kid's college tuition bill is due. So buy a bunch.

Regarding your own writing project, by all means putter around with the idea until you're ready. Keep in mind though that a "local, parochial, outlet" is code for "something that nobody reads." Not everybody can be Stephen Jay Gould or Carl Sagan, but the point of writing is to gets eyes on the text. Unless you're Emily Dickenson.

I hope you do it though. Then I'll be able to say that "I knew him when he was just a couple of skulls on an online bulletin board..."
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Re: November 2012 Scientific American

Postby ronjanec on November 16th, 2012, 5:17 pm 

Huh? Who? What? Where? Thanks for pointing this out Forest: I will have to pick up a copy. Congrats in advance Don.
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