Upcoming talk, Glassy Carbon paper, Round Robin paper progress, March (in April) for science

Four short items for today.

First up: I’ll be heading to Paris next week to meet up with Olivier Tache & co. According to the tentative plan, I’ll be stopping by LIONS on Tuesday, LPS on Wednesday, and SOLEIL on Thursday. I will also be giving a lecture at CEA on the 22nd, entitled: “Fighting alternative facts with SAXS” (click the title for details). If you want to say “hi”, please do join the talk or contact Olivier to set up a meet.

Secondly, it is my genuine pleasure to see the 15 years of hard work by Jan Ilavsky, Andrew Allen and coworkers out in a paper (open access). The paper details the checks and double-checks that were done to certify the glassy carbon (GC) material as an intensity standard. Being involved in trying to standardize materials as well, I know what a fight that can be, and it certainly requires the longest of breaths, the highest levels of patience. Being a zen Buddhist monk isn’t required for this, but it would certainly help.

The paper, however, also serves as an ideal example on just how much care is necessary to make sure you have the material you assume you have. I look around, and I see people throwing techniques at a problem in a slapdash fashion, drawing conclusions way too quickly based on way too little evidence. The GC work takes this to the other extreme, but I would encourage everyone to take a few more steps into its direction whenever possible.

Thirdly, in case you were wondering, we got the Round Robin paper back with the reviewer comments (the pre-submission manuscript is available here). As usual, one reviewer was very positive, the other put in considerable effort to (rightly) highlight problem areas in need of some clarifications, and number three opines that we’re doing useless research not worth publishing. Given that broad spectrum of opinions, we’re working hard to rewrite the paper so it is more easily understood, and adding some additional helpful information. Hopefully, with that we will be able to resubmit it in the coming weeks. Finger’s crossed!

Lastly, if you love science, and hate alternative facts, there’s probably a March for Science coming to a city near you. I’ll be heading to join the one in Berlin. See the scientists riot in the streets, throwing Erlenmeyers and hissy fits… Just kidding. Should be fun!

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