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Physics Fiasco & Scientific American Magazine

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FQXi has just completed it's third essay prize competition with some unhappy entrants at being missed the opportunity of recognition. Digital v Analog: Winners Announced!. It seems Scientific American has forgotten to reward it's non-mainstream contenders which has created a bit of a stir in the physics community. Is this a worrying trend in modern science?

Mr Blue:

"Brendan, please create the alternative (or non-mainstream) category. I'm sure this category will be very popular both for professionals and non-professional physicists. Moreover, I'm sure this alternative category will be more important and popular than our present category. FQXI must be like NIAC from NASA."

I can't agree more with the author of the quoted post (anon). I would also urge people to send their complaints of unfairness in this competition to George Musser of Scientific American magazine.

Brendan: If a rectrospect alternative category prize is not awarded for this competition then I intend to take the matter further with a campaign aimed at informing the public of Scientific American's double standards. It would be in all our interests for this simple rectification to be enacted. If we don't get what we ask for then I intend to start a viral campaign starting one week from the date of this post. My apologies for being so necessarily assertive.

Mr Black:

Mr Blue,

I agree with you completely. But, in addition, I can try to clarify the unfortunate situation some of us find ourselves in.

I believe now that it was conceived as a club for the (science) celebrities, and as such its originators expected to gain the same status for themselves.

Fortunately for them, the celebrities are getting something out of this game: decent size grants and lavish conferences. But unfortunately for all of us here, attracted like butterflies to the bright light, due to the narrow visionary views of the FQXi originators and their priorities, the "public" arm of FQXi--including the contests, blogs, forums--get the short end of the stick.

Mr Pink:

I understand your frustration. My FQXi paper is being considered for publication by Pre-Spacetime Journal. FQXi has been reasonably fair to non-Professionals over the years. There is some question as to whether folks like Philip Gibbs (whose essay is very deserving of a prize IMHO) won "professional" or "non-professional" prizes. Because they gave 18 prizes (not 19 like the last contest, or 20 like the potential maximun of prizes) it appears that the "non-professional" category wasn't even considered. As others have pointed out here, no one really wants to take credit for winning the "non-professional" "consolation" category - perhaps an "alternative" category is more appropriate to FQXi's stated purpose:

"FQXi catalyzes, supports, and disseminates research on questions at the foundations of physics and cosmology, particularly new frontiers and innovative ideas integral to a deep understanding of reality, but unlikely to be supported by conventional funding sources."

I knew that my paper's paradigm was controversial, but I'm not a "play it safe" kind of guy.

IMHO, If you think they are being unfair now, then the proper response is to ignore them, not to war with them. You are welcome to e-mail me anytime you need a friend or a second opinion - my e-mail address is on my papers.

Edited by Le Lapedalleur

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FQXi Brendan Foster replies: "I did see an suggestion somewhere here for a separate 'amateur/outsider' category. That's an intriguing idea I might discuss with the other organizers next time." Progress has been made folks.

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