27 December 2014

On my 2015 wishlist...

...is an e-print server where I can submit my pdf preprint and have it archived as-is, without making me jump through hoops just because someone somewhere thought it would be a good idea to force the authors to provide their publication in some particular format.

Case in point: I've tried storing the preprint of a recent paper (published online in September 2014).

20 December 2014

"Universal" Casimir forces

What is remarkable about the quantum Casimir force between perfect conductors is its very simple formula, which depends only on the geometry and on universal constants. Would this force be the same in the presence of different interactions?

11 December 2014


Great illustration of normal modes in acoustics!

3 December 2014

What science is

I am not satisfied with most definitions of science I've seen so far, either essentialist or enumerative. I think the "social" definition below is much better:

1. Science is what scientists do [1].

It may not be very satisfying, but neither is it as glib as it first appears. Still, I believe it needs some precisions: obviously, not everything scientists do is science. This applies in private life (some scientists are atheists and others are deeply religious) but also to public attitudes: Johannes Stark was an authentic Nazi, but this does not prevent us from studying the Stark effect. Conversely, his scientific achievements do not render Nazism respectable. Then:

2 December 2014

CNRS positions - the 2015 campaign

[Updated with 2015 data]
The 2015 campaign for permanent research positions at the CNRS (Centre national de la recherche scientifique) is officially open. The submission deadline is January 6th 2015. There are 212 open positions at the CR2 level (same as in 2014), 77 CR1 (+11), 253 DR2 (-26) and 2 DR1 (+2).