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Scian Melt # 13

Sowmya has the latest edition of the Scian Melt . It is a nicely categorised collection of links to posts on science. And, The next melt is still up for grabs…mail Selva if u r interested.

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was apparently sent from TIFR! (to CERN, where else ?) I got this info from here.

Side Bar Updated

I have updated my side bar at blogger!

To add to his numerous other discoveries, here is a new Supernova to Vishnu’s credit!! This is a very bright one! .. 14.3 mag. This is roughly the brightness of Pluto(I mean the apparent brightness, as seen from earth) Such bright ones are pretty rare. Here is the page from Smithsonian which lists recent supernova discoveries.

“2006E” is the one that Vishnu shares with Puckett (a well known supernova hunter) and others.You can easily make out that there arent many in the mag 14** range. Here is an image of the supernova from Vishnu’s website.Many congratulations to Vishnu!

**In the magnitude scale a lesser ‘magnitude’ implies greater brightness.
Such a definition is for purely historical reasons. This is a logarithmic scale.

CMI Fest

The Chennai Mathematical Institute is moving to its new campus and they are having a “Math Mela” to commemorate this. Some eminent mathematicians from across the world are coming to Chennai and will be delivering lectures at CMI. Amongst the Mathematicians, some of the names that I could recognise were Robert Langlands , Manjul Bharghava, MS Narasimhan. There are a few talks by physicists too. (eg, Padmanabhan, Arvind) . Ofcourse, most of the talks are technical in nature. The talks by Physicists clash with my labs ..argh!
In a related note, Robert Langlands has been conferred with an honorary doctorate by the University of Madras.

Dilemma!

People would have gone through this..

Do I ditch blogger for wordpress?? I dont mean a dedicated hosting… I would happily switch to wordpress if I had a full-fledged hosting plan. It is a shift from http://neosagredo.blogspot.com to https://aswin.wordpress.com that I am contemplating. A much cleaner interface for blogging, great looks (of this particular template), categories,trackbacks etc are some of the advantages with wordpress. But, the flip side is that you get very little freedom to tamper with your template! It would be great if they could just allow me to change the css file, a little bit. Also, The default “blog stats” are extremely primitive and do not go beyond pageloads and referrals. Inspite of this, I have moved my content here. I am just playing around with the interface. I will continue to post stuff at my blogger site(and all comments go there). If I do change, it would be my second shift in less that 4 months! (the first time)

Today’s Hindu has a rather elaborate coverage of Alan Rusbridger’s (Editor,guardian)visit to India( Link 1 Link 2 Link 3). Appearing alongside these articles is the announcement by N.Ram that The Hindu will have a Reader’s Editor, pretty soon (from Jan13?). So.. who is this Reader’s Editor??.. what is his role ?? The details would be probably be out in a short while… but I thought looking at other examples would help in making a reasonable guess.

As explained by Ian Mayes( Reader’s Editor. Guardian) in this article,he is expected to

“[..]collect, consider, investigate, respond to, and where appropriate come to a conclusion about readers’ comments, concerns, and complaints in a prompt and timely manner, from a position of independence within the paper”.

That is the ‘principles’ part. How does all this work in practice?? To start with, A daily report of Corrections/Clarifications (compiled by the R-Editor) looks like an inevitable feature in such a setup. Here is a sample from the guardian. This is truly great! The usual Erratum/Corrigendum in some corner of the paper is an useless attempt. Also, Meyes has a weekly column for himself. Most of his articles are devoted to the job of debating the kind of coverage that The Guardian presented (Link 1 Link 2 Link 3)and clarifying on reader responses(Link 1, Link 2). In some of these articles, he ends up quoting various comments from the readers without passing any opinion on it. But occasionally, he does offer a complete apology. A recent heavy-duty row has been with Noam Chomsky! Chomsky had objected to a particular interview that was published in The Guardian. The Reader’s Editor looked into Chomsky’s complaints and finally conceded that The Guardian had indeed been faulty on three counts. The issue is not closed. The actual interview has been withdrawn from the website. Also, look at this curious case for yet another apology. Some of the other newspapers in UK have followed the Guardian Example and have Reader’s Editors in place.

As reg the US, NYT and WP do have such “Editors”. The current Internal- Ombudsman in the Washington Post has her own column and here is her description of the job. The New York Times Public Editor too has a separate column in the Opinion Section. The content of these columns is similar to the Guardian one. Amongst the NYT articles, I found this article on New Orleans particularly heartening.

Now, I do not know of how the readers have reacted to the these editors. But, from the content of their articles, my guess is that any such feature in India would be a huge step towards newspapers gaining more respect amongst their readers. In the Hindu’s case, this will greatly enhance the quality of this wonderful newspaper. I hope the other major publications in India follow suit and establish such self-correcting mechanisms.

ps: Ofcourse, the first case for the Hindu’s R-Editor is ready,courtesy bloggers!

pdate : The R-Editor has been appointed. It is Mr. Narayanan, an old hand at The Hindu.
Samanth and Nina have their doubts about the new appointment.