Our replies

Sorry for a long delay with our reply to Andrei’s comments (teaching duties…).
On September 30, Andrei wrote:

“Yet again a remarkable piece of truly historical research. However, a paper in APS journal does not imply, that becomes APS view.”

Perhaps you are right about too general conclusion (“APS view”), and it would be better to say that this is only an opinion of Review of Modern Physics.

There are only a few journals, e.g. Phys. Lett. (A&B), where published papers express opinion of an editor because the name of editor, who accepted a paper, is indicated. In majority of journals there is no name, that means an editorial board made a decision, i.e. a journal.

Decision about publication can be anonymous but opinion cannot! If opinion, concerning the result/statement published in a journal, is changed there should be a comment/editorial/correction/etc., in this journal.

In one of our post, The April fools, we described our attempt to correct the paper (full of mistakes and wrong statements). These corrections, http://arxiv.org/abs/arXiv:1112.6407, were rejected by the journal, i.e. the journal (not the authors) did not change its opinion about validity of the published results.

What would be the result if we sent to Review Modern Physics our comments on the published footnote about Einstein? We can describe a few possible scenarios (answers) of such a play but with the same final “No”. Would it (rejection) be a proof that journal’s opinion about correctness of a footnote is unchanged? The most probable reply: RMP is not a historical journal. But why in the first place did it publish a “historical” footnote?

In fact, any negative comment on previously published works cannot be welcomed, read APS GUIDELINES FOR PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT (a corporative style document). For example:

“Professional integrity in the formulation, conduct, and reporting of physics activities reflects not only on the reputations of individual physicists and their organizations, but also on the image and credibility of the physics profession as perceived by scientific colleagues, government and the public.”

A discussion of incorrect results/statements is obviously not good for “image and credibility”, it is not good for a corporation and can affect perceiving of it by government and the public. Is it science if image, not truth, becomes more important?

Andrei’s second comment (October 13):

“In the series of your posts you expose a remarkable collection of unknown/forgotten historical facts. UK Physics World publishes short letters. I think this information would be very appropriate to be highlighted in an English speaking country as a letter to Physics World.”

The answer to Andrei’s second comment is related to the answer to the first one. We, unfortunately (in our opinion), live in the globalized world, and corporative approach to science is also a global phenomenon. Please note that we are not against internationalization of science (she was always international), but we are against the tendency (or rather reality) to incorporate science internationally. Our “collection of unknown/forgotten historical facts” is not good for “image”, and publication of it in Physics World would expose it to the public of the world or to governments. We do not know what is considered to be the worth scenario (perceiving by the public or by government), and this is the question to the authors (APS) of guidelines APS GUIDELINES FOR PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT quoted above. In our view the public and governments are irrelevant for the search of truth; curiosity and only curiosity is moving such a search (we are talking about science, not technology or engineering). Any involvement of public and government is, at least, not helpful and can only lead to creation of institutions or projects which are too big to fail. One such an example, discussed in our previous posts, is international hunt for gravitational waves which is decades long. We referred to some recent years results in our post What if we find gravitational waves and if we don’t, the most recent publication http://arxiv.org/abs/1209.6533 is reporting again: “No gravitational wave signals were found.”

Of course our views on corporative nature of today’s science and education are not new or original. See, for example, recent manifesto for a reform by the Council for the Defence of British Universities, and why they believe the academy requires protection from the state and the market (instead of worrying about image of science in government’s eyes) Fidei defensores, and the follow-up article (with interesting comments and additional links) in The Guardian: Our universities are at great risk. We must act now to defend them.

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