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Nov. 26th, 2011 | 02:47 pm
mood: pensivepensive

I never knew, but apparently, in addition to the arXiv, there is also a snarXiv, which is basically a Sokalesque offshoot that isn't quite serious — but which is funny precisely because of that.

For instance, take the following (randomly generated!) abstract:

Some Conspicuous Cases and Orientifold Planes
Authors: P. Klebanov, X. F. Higgs, L. N. Silverstein
Comments: 4 pages
Subjects: High Energy Physics - Theory (hep-th); Statistical Mechanics (cond-mat.stat-mech)

A fair amount of work was done recently extending Topological String Theory. However, orientifold planes yield a key framework for evaluating "E_6 symmetry breaking". We use a cosmological extension of the minimal MSSM, together with Denef points on dS_m to construct some general cases, and shed light on a certain notion of localization, and investigate the formulation of holographic models with W-bosons. Thus, nontrivial duality reduces to our very same duality. Our results verify that some particular paradigms are related to inflation at the center of the galaxy.

Would you be able to tell that this is not an actual physics paper? I'm not sure I would; yes, it's seemingly unrelated technobabble, but then, so are many actual abstracts for physics papers.

For the adventurous, there's also a arXiv vs. snarXiv game where you get to guess which title belongs to an actual paper and which is autogenerated hogwash. :) Try maintaining a score of significantly more than 50% on it — it's surprisingly hard.

tzisorey points out a very interesting paper — Kevin Karsch et al., Rendering Synthetic Objects into Legacy Photographs, to be presented at SIGGRAPH Asia 2011 in December. Here's the abstract:

We propose a method to realistically insert synthetic objects into existing photographs without requiring access to the scene or any additional scene measurements. With a single image and a small amount of annotation, our method creates a physical model of the scene that is suitable for realistically rendering synthetic objects with diffuse, specular, and even glowing materials while accounting for lighting interactions between the objects and the scene. We demonstrate in a user study that synthetic images produced by our method are confusable with real scenes, even for people who believe they are good at telling the difference. Further, our study shows that our method is competitive with other insertion methods while requiring less scene information. We also collected new illumination and reflectance datasets; renderings produced by our system compare well to ground truth. Our system has applications in the movie and gaming industry, as well as home decorating and user content creation, among others.

And since it's probably difficult to get excited about that without seeing results, there's a video, too — on Vimeo, or you can download it (MP4/H.264) from the above site. The paper itself is also available there, including as a 54 MB version with high-res photographs.

The New York Times has an interesting post by Eddy Nahmias in its Opinionator blog, concerning free will and whether advances in neuroscience proves that it does not exist.

Here, I’ll explain why neuroscience is not the death of free will and does not “wreak havoc on our sense of moral and legal responsibility,” extending a discussion begun in Gary Gutting’s recent Stone column. I’ll argue that the neuroscientific evidence does not undermine free will. But first, I’ll explain the central problem: these scientists are employing a flawed notion of free will. Once a better notion of free will is in place, the argument can be turned on its head. Instead of showing that free will is an illusion, neuroscience and psychology can actually help us understand how it works.

I recommend reading the whole thing; it's very interesting.

Congrats are due to the On-Line Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences (better known as the OEIS) for reaching 200,000 entries! A200000 ("Number of meanders filling out an n-by-n grid, reduced for symmetry") was initially entered as A200715, but moved to its current spot after a week of discussion on the SeqFan mailing list; in the words of Neil J. A. Sloane, "[i]t is mathematical, hard, interesting, has nice pictures, and can be understood by anyone". Speaking of nice pictures, here's one illustrating why a(5) = 42, too (picture created by Jon Wild and taken from The Online Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences, used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 3.0 license):

(Click to embiggen)

I've contributed a few sequences to the OEIS over time, too. See if you can find them! :)

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Comments {2}


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from: mondhasen
date: Nov. 29th, 2011 10:47 am (UTC)

I stopped 'guessing' at titles when my score maxed at 63% and then kept dropping ;o) These are quite funny, in that 'sounded good at the time' sort of way, and highlight how easily techno-babble can confuse us.

I recall having had to do a book report for a class in the 8th grade I found myself making up information the night before, including a plausible title for an imaginary book. I'd never done this before (I usually pulled through and completed the task at the last minute, but my procrastination was becoming worse and worse by this time) and didn't actually think it would work... the instructor gave me an A: I had counted on her not checking all books and sources, and my fanciful work appeared mundane enough so as not to attract a closer look.

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from: schnee
date: Nov. 29th, 2011 11:01 am (UTC)

Aye. *s* Granted, if you were a physics major, it'd probably be easier to tell apart the rubbish from the real, and since these papers are only aimed at physics majors, that's OK. (Still, I wonder what percentage an actual physics major COULD maintain.)

Heh, and that's pretty funny! It still does make some sense when you think about it, though; the point of a book report in school is not so much to get an actual report on the book as much as it is to teach you how to summarize and present information, and you arguably did that, even if the book you summarized did not itself exist. :)

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