Friday, March 14, 2008

Talk Like A Physicist Day, but not on Wikipedia

A little late, but all us physbloggers are duty bound to talk up "Talk Like A Physicist Day", held today on "Pi" 2008 (i.e. 3/14/2008). While I feel like I talk like a physicist every day (or every once in a while on this blog), maybe I could consider a few of their suggestions:
Don’t say that “you are going to brush your teeth”; instead “I am going to apply the force of friction to overcome the electrical bonds between my teeth and foreign matter.”
Ahem, my wife won't appreciate that one.

That said, I hadn't realized how restrictive it is to speak about one's own work, once submitted to a prestigious journal. As New Scientist reports (via Slashdot):
Scientists who want to describe their work on Wikipedia should not be forced to give up the kudos of a respected journal. So says a group of physicist who are going head-to-head with a publisher because it will not allow them to post parts of their work to the online encylopaedia, blogs and other forums.

The physicists were upset after the American Physical Society withdrew its offer to publish two studies in Physical Review Letters because the authors had asked for a rights agreement compatible with Wikipedia . The APS asks ascientists to trasnfer their copyright to the sccoiety before they can publish in an APS journal. This prevents scientists contributing illustrations or other "derivative works" of their papers to many websites without explicit permission.

So, for now, feel free to talk like a physicst, but just not on Wikipedia. Let's see what happens in May.

1 comment:

Pace said...

I do not entirely understand the problem. The APS grants authors the ability to post their articles on their own websites and make them available for free download. These particular authors can make all of their work accessible in this way.

Also, Wikipedia specifically rejects original research and asks only for established fact. So, it would seem that anything recently published is not fit for Wikipedia because there is still the possibility that someone will disprove it or a retraction might be required for some other reason. If the author(s) continue to publish quality work in their field, then it is possible that they will get an "External Link" from the relevant Wikipedia page to their professional page.

Am I missing another angle to this issue?