Archive for March 5, 2020

From the Inventor of the H-index

Posted in Biographical, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , on March 5, 2020 by telescoper

My third-year students are busily engaged with a Computational Physics class test so I thought I’d occupy myself for a few minutes by sharing an interesting little paper that appeared on the arXiv a few weeks ago. The paper is by Jorge Hirsch, the inventor of the (in)famous H-index.

Here is the abstract:

A magnetic field H is expelled from the interior of a metal becoming superconducting. Everybody thinks the phenomenon is perfectly well understood, particularly scientists with the highest H-index think that. I don’t. I will explain why I believe that without Holes, conceptualized by Heisenberg in 1931 fifty years after Hall had first detected them in some metals, neither magnetic field expulsion nor anything else about superconductivity can be understood. I have been a Heretic in the field of superconductivity for over 30 years, and believe that Hans’ little story about the emperor perfectly captures the essence of the situation. Here is (a highly condensed version of) the wHole story.

You will see that, despite the liberal sprinkling of letters H, the paper isn’t ostensibly about the H-index, but it does contain some interesting comments thereon, including:

I proposed the H-index hoping it would be an objective measure of scientific achievement. By and large, I think this is believed to be the case. But I have now come to believe that it can also fail spectacularly and have severe unintended negative consequences. I can understand how the sorcerer’s apprentice must have felt.

I think the opinion of a scientist about the value of the H-index roughly speaking divides according to whether a said scientist has a big one or a small one. Those lucky enough to have a high H-index probably think it is fine, while those who have a low value can probably find a reason why it is flawed. My own H-index (42 according to Google Scholar) is mediocre, which I reckon is a fair reflection of my status.

Farewell to Flybe

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on March 5, 2020 by telescoper

It had been on the cards for some time, but last night the airline Flybe collapsed and has now gone into administration. Let me just leave this Twitter announcement made in January by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps here:

It seems that Flybe has gone the inevitable way of every Tory promise.

I had bought a ticket to fly from Dublin to Cardiff at the end of next week as the following week is a study break that includes the St Patrick’s Day holiday. As a result I got this email this morning.

Obviously it’s an inconvenience for me as I’ll have to find another way to get to Cardiff, but I’ll probably get my money refunded by the Chargeback scheme so it’s not such a big deal. The same can’t be said of the 2000 people who worked for Flybe who have now lost their jobs, nor the many others whose livelihoods depended indirectly on this airline who may also lose theirs. The impact on some of the smaller regional airports in the UK will be considerable, although some airlines may well step in and take up some of the demand.

As of last year, almost 80% of flights from Belfast City airport and 95% from Southampton were via Flybe

I think another airline might well take up some of the Belfast routes, but I doubt if the same would be true of Southampton. In a way, it’s a pity that these small mainland regional airports are so important, which is partly because regional train services are so poor and so expensive, but I can’t see that changing.

I have actually used Flybe quite a lot over the last couple of years. For a while I was taking weekly flights between Cardiff and Dublin and the service was generally quite reliable. I feel very sorry for the staff who have lost their jobs and send them my best wishes and hope that they can find alternative employment before too long.