Odd and Ends (and - yes, I admit - a few Rants):
Four ideas for changing peer-reviewed academic publishing culture
- a little piece I've written in 2013 and that appears to be as relevant now as it was then.
And while we're on the topic, I am sceptical of self-publishing work that hasn't undergone
peer-review (e.g., on arXive), although there are some circumstances under which it makes sense,
and I am highly sceptical of open peer review as the main or only form of vetting the quality of publications,
as well as of double-blind reviewing;
at some point, I'll have to write down my reasoning.
- an extremely useful, free encyclopedia,
and very much worth supporting (NB: I hope you appreciate the link to the self-referential page).
Of course, it isn't perfect,
but remarkably high quality for the most part.
I have contributed some (short) articles
the piccolo heckelphone,
- of course, by now, these have taken on a life of their own.
- suppressed for decades, the German dialect of Hessian
has become fashionable again. If you plan to visit the region
between Hessian Siberia (Kassel) and Hessian Kongo (Darmstadt),
or for your next stop-over at
Frankfurt International Airport, you may want to learn at least
the basics of Hessian - this Hessian-English Dictionary
will get you started.
Alexander Graham Bell
- did not really invent the telephone,
Philipp Reiss did,
and he also introduced the name "telephone".
Thomas Alva Edison
- neither invented nor patented first the light bulb,
in fact, light bulbs existed for many
decades before Edison patented them in the U.S.
(However, Edison did develop the standard E26 fitting that is still widely used today.)
The imperial system
- has outlived its usefulness more than a century ago.
To see why, just consider the differences between US and imperial measures,
such as the fluid ounce and the gallon.
(Information on the history of some of the discrepancies between the - abandoned - English
system and the US imperial system can be found here
- in a nutshell, the British "adapted" an older, French system of weights, while their North American Colonies stuck
to the - slightly more regular - original system.)
Contrary to widely held beliefs, even the
USA has adopted the metric system many decades ago and is using it heavily.
International paper sizes
- should really be used by everyone for almost every purpose. In fact, there is an ISO standard,
which has been adopted by every country in the world, with the exception of the USA and Canada.
(In Mexico and Colombia, the US "letter" format is also still frequently used,
although these countries adopted the international standard decades ago.)
The standard originated in Germany in 1922 and (perhaps not very surprisingly) is very logically structured;
based on an idea proposed almost 150 years earlier by the eminent scientist, Georg Christoph Lichtenberg,
the ISO paper sizes, such as A4, have the property that the two halfs obtained by folding or cutting along the middle,
have the same aspect ratio as the original sheet. (One sheet of A4 also has a surface area
of precisely 1/16th of a square metre.)
The excellent Wikipedia article on paper sizes
has more information, including the somewhat amusing fact that the traditional size that is closest to the international
standard in terms of aspect ratio is called "Super Royal" - perhaps that makes the ISO standard
"Hyper Royal" or "Trans-Royal".
(Anyone feeling the urge to look at a system even more arcane and fiendishly logic-defiant
than imperial units of measurements and US paper sizes will be interested
in learning about the way paper weight - i.e., thickness - is measured.)
- sometimes also referred to as "metric time",
this is an interesting approach to bringing
our somewhat dated system for measuring time
up to modern standards. While not convinced
that it will widely adopted anytime soon,
I am a dedicated supporter of decimal time.
Some information on decimal time can be found
The Grandiloquent Dictionary
- is an indespensable resource for those striving to expand their (English) vocabulary.
According to some estimates,
the English language may have at least half a million words (where the
issue of how to count words is not nearly as trivial as one may think),
which can be grouped into about 50000 word families (under the exclusion of proper names, etc.
- an enlightening discussion of this and related issues, as well as the source of the following
statistics can be found here).
Of these, the average, university educated native English speaker, appears to know about 20000,
about 6000 of which are sufficient for understanding 90% of most written text.
So, there may be little formal justifcation for spending time learning new, grandiloquent words,
but think of the entertainment value ...
The end of the internet
- can be found here.