July 15, 2016 Comments off

J.D. Wells. In Praise of Theory and Speculation : Essays and Commentaries. 2016 [pdf]

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Study and Learning
UF president rails against intercollegiate athletics, 1920 … 7
Spring break can lower your IQ … 12
Longhand writing better than laptop for note taking … 15
Factors that determine success in learning … 23
Advice from the Soviet Union on how to become a great physicist … 28
Student petitions his professor, Russia 1899 … 35
Strict oversight at Collège de Dainville, Paris, 1380 … 52
Advice on becoming a true scientist from Sinclair Lewis’s Arrowsmith … 57
The process of creativity … 91
Learn from your elders but follow your convictions … 94
Martin Luther rose to the top of class by studying hard … 107
You must study the masters … 133

Teaching and Education
Montaigne describes how students are to be taught to argue … 8
Wisconsin student not impressed with the flipped classroom … 11
On eliminating the university lecture, from Nabokov’s Pnin, 1957 … 20
Stanford University president compares American and German students, 1903 … 27
University enrollment pressures of the 1930s and Kinsey’s sexual revolution … 29
Teach with enthusiasm and devotion … 53
Examine your students properly … 54
Higher talent required to explain broadly than to impart specialized knowledge … 55
Student evaluations of teaching are of limited value … 56
High-flying broad physics instruction not very useful … 83
Reading seminars in Japanese education … 85
What endures from school … 89
Four benefits any teaching innovation must have … 119
Teaching science like a foreign language … 120
America’s 19th century middling standard for knowledge … 128

History and Philosophy of Science
Max Planck confidently explaining a wrong theory of Uranium, 1929 … 6
All explanations end with ‘it just does’ … 13
Difference between a cathedral and a physics lab? … 18
Study of nature far superior to other human activities? … 19
In praise of theory and speculation … 25
Heisenberg’s Failed Prophecy for Particle Physics … 37
Cicero on cosmology in Roman antiquity … 51
Prof. von Jolly’s 1878 prediction of the end of theoretical physics, reported by Max Planck … 61
Ginzburg’s regret at not being the first to discover the BCS theory of superconductivity … 68
The “vagrant and unfocused” career of Leonardo da Vinci … 78
Pascal’s Conformal Commitment … 79
Fundamental physics is not yet simple enough … 90
Voltaire says true physics is to calculate, measure and observe … 100
I think therefore I am … hated … 105
Leibniz thought belief in atoms was a youthful folly … 115
The value of studying history of science … 116
Humean destruction and Artificial Intelligence … 117
Big bang cries out for a divine explanation? … 121
Darwin’s flaws make him a scientist … 123
Rationalism is alive and kicking … 134
The technician and the scientist … 135

Requirements of Success
Excellent scientists can have life balance … 9
Successful people work insanely hard … 10
You can still succeed in science with a non-science background … 10
Traits of extraordinary achievers … 71
No success without total devotion … 88
IQ and conscientiousness are keys to success … 92
Genius is infinite capacity for taking pains … 93
Five characteristics of successful people … 98
All have will to win but few have will to prepare … 104
Non-cognitive skills as the ‘dark matter’ of success … 111
Suppress unnecessary impulses … 113
Determine never to be idle … 122
Odious qualities bring progress? … 127
Greatness requires change, improvement, and renewal … 130
Advice for the work life … 131
Legendary boxing trainer’s advice on becoming a champion … 132
Success through commitment … 136
How to generate luck … 137

Language and Writing
English dominance may be hurting science … 3
Athenodorus teaches Roman Emperor Claudius how to write well … 16
Suggestions for How to Spell English in International Reports … 40
Chris Rock on writing … 87
Cultivate the ethic of the essential … 103
Reflective versus reflexive novels in modernity … 108
Foucault : j’aime bien le beau style … 110
Thomas More and Martin Luther’s vituperativeness … 118
Wisdom from Steinbeck’s journal of a novel … 124

Miscellaneous
Citation inflation and its remedies … 1
Completing Hirsch’s h-index measuring scholarly impact … 32
Reprehensible behavior in a large population theorem … 64
Breakdown of the 1994 Agreement between the US and North Korea … 65
“Please, sir, I want some more citations” … 70
1936, the year of the first Fields Medalist, and the year MIT kicked him out … 81
Live mice versus dead lions … 95
The real advantage of truth … 96
Bad weather makes good academics … 97
True workers die in a fidget of frustration … 99
The will to prove destroys art … 101
Nothing is my last word on anything … 102
Alien infiltrator reports … 114
The more we want it to be true the more careful we must be … 129

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