Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Science Theories in Practice:

As the evolution/creationism debate continues in the US, one argument that creationists repeatedly use is that evolution is just a theory, not something that is actually proven (Creationist arguments: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-misconceptions.html).

Unfortunately, people who make this argument don’t understand evolution (topic for another post) or scientific theory (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory#Scientific_theories).

First, what is a scientific theory?

A theory is a set of statements that explains a group of observations; usually the statements have been widely tested and accepted. (In physics, either the theory or observations can come first.)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Best in Show!

Scientists often discuss (or bicker) about the order of authorship on papers. “I got a first-author paper published!” or “I was only second author on the paper.”

What do such phrases mean?

The first author on a paper is supposed to be the person who worked the most on the paper. Usually, the researcher who did the research of the paper, not necessarily the person who did the most writing. (See Lead Author, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lead_author). Often, this is the graduate student who worked on the project.