Ode to SnarXiv

So many things pass me by these days that I’m not usually surprised when I have no idea what people around me are talking about. I am however quite surprised that, until yesterday, never heard of the snarXiv. As its author explains:

The snarXiv is a ran­dom high-energy the­ory paper gen­er­a­tor incor­po­rat­ing all the lat­est trends, entropic rea­son­ing, and excit­ing mod­uli spaces. The arXiv is sim­i­lar, but occa­sion­ally less ran­dom.

The snarXiv uses “Context Free Grammar” together with a database of stock words and phrases to generate its content, which is actually just limited to titles and abstracts rather than entire papers. It’s just a matter of time, though. The results are variable, with some making no sense at all even by the standards of theoretical particle physics, but the best are almost good enough to pass off as real abstracts.

Here’s an example in the form of the abstract of a paper called (P,q) Brane Probe Predicted From Conformal Blocks:

Recently, work on new inflation has opened up a perturbative class of braneworld matrix models. We make contact with observables, moreover investigating trivial Beckenstein-Boltzmann equations. Next, using the behavior of a left-right reduction of models of WIMPs, we reformulate instanton liquids at the LHC. After discussing positrons, we check that worldsheet symmetric central charges are equivalent to electric-duality in gravity. Finally, we make contact with a special lagrangian brane, surprisingly obtaining models of inertial fluctuations.

Why not have a go at arXiv versus SnarXiv to see if you can spot the genuine article titles?

I’m tempted, with a nod in the light of the Sokal Affair, to suggest that a similar approach used in the social sciences, but the thing that really struck me is that someone should do a snarXiv for astronomy and astrophysics. Or is someone going to tell me it already exists?

Come to think of it, judging by some of the proposals I’ve read while serving on the Astronomy Grants Panel over the years, a similar generator may already exist for writing grant applications…

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9 Responses to “Ode to SnarXiv”

  1. “which is actually just limited to titles and abstracts rather than entire papers”

    There is definitely a generator out there which generates entire papers.

    Please read this: http://backreaction.blogspot.de/2014/03/do-scientists-deliberately-use.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+Backreaction+%28Backreaction%29

  2. Somewhat similar but also somewhat easier is the automatic generation of Shakespearean insults!

  3. scigen will generate entire papers, including references.

  4. Anton Garrett Says:

    Worryingly, there is still contention whether the papers of Igor and Grichka Bogdanov in these areas a decade ago was genuine physics or a Sokal-type hoax aimed back at physicists:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bogdanov_affair

    • Do you know of anyone who thinks that their papers have genuine physics content? Note that Classical and Quantum Gravity publicly retracted one of their papers, apologizing for the fact that it “slipped through” the refereeing process.

      I don’t think the Bogdanovs were doing some sort of reverse Sokal hoax. Rather, they seem like typical crackpots (though, perhaps, with more basic physics knowledge; of course, there are well known crackpots with basic physics knowledge and at least one with a Nobel Prize in physics) who don’t understand the important issues and vastly overestimate their own abilities.

      • “Do you know of anyone who thinks that their papers have genuine physics content? Note that Classical and Quantum Gravity publicly retracted one of their papers, apologizing for the fact that it “slipped through” the refereeing process.”

        Well apparently one of the referees at Classical and Quantum Gravity thought the paper had genuine physics content.

      • It’s not really a referee at Classical and Quantum Gravity, but rather just a “peer” who was selected to referee the paper. For whatever reason, the occasional crackpot paper slips through. I can think of an example in the Astrophysical Journal, for example. If the editorial board makes a statement that the paper is not up to snuff, then you can be sure that they thought deeply about this and are utterly convinced (and, hopefully, will never use this referee again).

  5. The arXiv is sim­i­lar, but occa­sion­ally less ran­dom.

    LOL. Seriously though, there seems to be some issues wherein cosmology is “infected” with theoretical physics that is verging on pseudoscience. Steve Eales had a bit of a pop at this kind of thing in Origins and Jim Baggot devoted a book to it in Farewell to Reality. I think it’s turning into a bit of a problem myself, threatening to bring cosmology into disrepute. Naming no names of course.

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