Science Debate 2008


I haven’t posted much lately since I’ve entered a consuming ‘programming’ phase of my project, but I thought I’d share the following link:

Given the many urgent scientific and technological challenges facing America and the rest of the world, the increasing need for accurate scientific information in political decision making, and the vital role scientific innovation plays in spurring economic growth and competitiveness, we call for a public debate in which the U.S. presidential candidates share their views on the issues of The Environment, Health and Medicine, and Science and Technology Policy.

A nice way to burn 10 seconds: count how many prominent physicists have listed their names on the site.


2 Responses to “Science Debate 2008”

  1. What kind of programming are you doing? Is this for modeling? What language? Do you think there’s a need for physicists who are more experienced programmers?


  2. Hi Matt! I’m not doing anything particularly fancy at the moment, just automating a tedious calculation that I want to perform for a large number of different parameters. I’m using Fortran 95, though this was a choice based on compatibility with what my adviser is used to.

    Fortran is nice for inputting formulae, the name is short for `formula translator.’ The main advantage over C(++), I think, is that it recognizes the proper order of operations. It also has the benefit of being widely used by older generations of scientists (lots of code to draw from).

    There’s a broad range of programming used in particle physicists. Some top-down theorists work with new models and want to understand the structure of a theory for different parameters. More nose-to-the-grindstone phenomenologists work with monte carlo simulation at colliders. Lattice QCD a computational art in itself. One could easily spend years developing and maintaining a piece of code.

    I don’t have a broad enough view to answer the question about whether or not there’s a “need” for more physicists who are experienced programmers. Experimental particle physicists certainly do a lot of programming, spanning collider/accelerator physics and statistical data analysis. Astronomers, I understand, also do a lot of programing for data analysis.

    (The take home point: programming is an important skill to pick up in one’s undergrad years–preferably earlier.)

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