Sep 15, 2009 | 6
The middle of the 20th century was an eventful time in terms of Earth's geopolitics. In the spring of 1949, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was taking shape, and simmering tensions in Korea hinted at the war that would begin there the following year. Twelve years later, in the summer of 1961, President John F. Kennedy was in his first year of office and had already committed the U.S. to reaching the moon before the decade was out.
A few hundred million miles away, during that same interval of years, Jupiter had its own share of the action. The gas giant passed the time by borrowing a comet called 147P/Kushida-Muramatsu to form a temporary satellite, holding onto it for two orbits. That's the conclusion, anyway, of a study presented yesterday (pdf) at the European Planetary Science Congress in Potsdam, Germany, by a team of researchers from Japan and the U.K.
Jan 26, 2009 | 3
How can one quantify the importance of a given scientific paper? One simple and frequently utilized measure is the number of times that paper is cited in subsequent publications. But critics note that counting citations favors disciplines such as biology, where papers tend to be cited more, over fields such as mathematics, where citations are less frequent. In addition, a citation from a relatively marginal paper counts just the same as a citation from a leading researcher publishing in a marquee journal.
In a study published in October in the Journal of Neuroscience and recently made available at the online repository arxiv.org, physicists Sergei Maslov of Brookhaven National Laboratory and Sidney Redner of Boston University examine the value of Google's PageRank algorithm as it applies to ranking scientific works. (The researchers rightly point out that no quantitative system can truly "value" a scientific work—but since many such metrics are already in use, it stands to reason that they should be improved.)
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