The Theorist vs. the X-Ray Astronomer

Usually blog wars make me sad. People get angry and cranky at each other, feelings are hurt, no one really wins or learns anything. I don’t like blog wars. Except, for this one. May I introduce to you,


Pictures courtesy of XSEDE, NICS, Bob Rood, and wherever the heck Dan got that fly.

Pictures courtesy of XSEDE, NICS, Bob Rood, and wherever the heck Dan got that “butterfly”.

So here is the backstory. My good friend, Dr. Jake Simon, writes some insightful stuff about science, skepticism, and politics over on his Facebook page. Realizing that his posts were generating quite a bit of discussion, he decided to try his hand at blogging, a move that I applaud.

However, there was a disturbance in the Force. My other good friend, Dr. Dan Wik, took exception to Jake’s blogging and started his own in rebuttal, threatening various things with a soldering iron that should probably not be mentioned and calling out Jake’s research methods. Jake defends his purely theoretical research, claiming that Dan has data-envy. Dan fires back with his thousands of x-ray photons, but Jake has a Kraken-sized super computer at his disposal. Most recently, Dan has rebutted with a picture of a fly on butter which makes me worry about his sanity a bit, but I suspect that this argument is far from over.

For those of you who may be sarcasm-challenged, these guys are best of buds and former roommates now separated by two post-doctoral positions several hundred miles apart. It’s a shame, really, when such a bromace is long-distance. And they used to bicker like this in person all the time. Though the feud may not be real, the science that they discuss IS very real. I think they’ve stumbled upon a very entertaining and novel way to introduce aspects of their scientific research to the public. I encourage following this blog war down whatever strange rabbit hole they go. You’ll be amused AND learn something along the way.

2 comments for “The Theorist vs. the X-Ray Astronomer

  1. February 19, 2013 at 13:01

    I will follow the “war” as it progresses – thank you for the a) heads up and b) links. I have a question – which may not fall within your purview but I’ve got to start somewhere. Is there any evidence for the expansion of space at the quantum level? The reason I ask? I am wondering if the apparent “accelerating expansion” of the Universe might not be an artifact of Relative Time – time passes slower on Earth. So it passes more quickly the farther away from Earth, the Solar System and the Galaxy we get. Could that not be the reason we see accelerated motion as we look outward?

    • Nicole
      February 19, 2013 at 13:09

      I can try and take a stab at that. I don’t think there is a “relative time” that is different for Earth than any other place, at least not outside what special relativity tells us which is that there is NO one set reference frame. The acceleration of the expansion of the Universe is a real thing, but what causes it, we have no frakking clue. It may in fact be some energy inherent to space at the quantum level, but the measurements don’t match up to the theoretical calculations. One of my fave cosmology resources (despite the 90s look of the webpage it’s quite good) is Ned Wright’s Cosmology tutorial –

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