Links for 2012-04-30

  • Confessions of a Community College Dean: Class Dismissed

    In my darker moments, I sometimes wonder if the root of the problem with public higher education in America is that it was designed to create and support a massive middle class. And we’ve tacitly decided as a society that a massive middle class is not a priority. We’re trying to fulfill a mission that the country has largely abandoned. When the goal of a prosperous middle class was tacitly dismissed, dominos started to fall. The meme making the rounds last week was the announcement that outstanding student loan debt in America reached a trillion dollars. That’s not a function of community college tuition, obviously, but it indicates that what we’re preparing students for, and what the economy wants them for, don’t align.

  • The Crisis of Big Science by Steven Weinberg | The New York Review of Books

    I am less impressed with this than a lot of people who have linked it. Someday, I hope to have enough time to explain why.

  • Top 10 Dinosaurs That Aren’t What They Were

    Dinosaurs are not what they used to be. I’m not talking about birds being dinosaurs and all that, but about those extinct giants of the Mesozoic we all grew up loving. As new studies and discoveries are made, dinosaurs are becoming so much different from the way we always imagined them that, today, many of us have trouble recognizing even our childhood favorites. I give you ten classic dinosaurs that have changed radically due to new paleontological discoveries. And they may still change a lot in the future! Note: each entry has two images – the first is the previous image of the dinosaur, and the second is the new. Dinosaur before and after shots!


  1. #1 CCPhysicist
    April 30, 2012

    He got me in the first paragraph, with his ignorance of basic physics. The “Rutherford experiment” wasn’t done in 1911. Rutherford’s theory paper was published in 1911. The experiment was done and published in 1909, by Geiger and Marsden, who undertook the experiment at Rutherford’s suggestion.

    It took two years to understand the result, and 14 more to get the physics of the atom right. You would think that a theoretical physicist would know that Rutherford’s paper was theory, not experiment!

    (BTW, Goldhaber’s statement, which is about a different experiment, is correct.)

    I was also struck by his mention of Fermilab rather than Brookhaven, since the latter was the next generation machine that the superconducting supercollider was modeled after. But he is right about the hard sell for the next machine. If all they do at CERN is confirm the standard model, there will be no reason to push on. They need to find something utterly unexpected, like they did at the AGS.