View Poll Results: : Your forecast of the Smolin/string impact ratio on 1 Feb: closest wins
3.0 (highest ratio that I can realistically imagine by then) 1 11.11%
2.5 (similar to what it was on 1 December) 2 22.22%
2.0 3 33.33%
1.5 0 0%
1.0 (parity, salesrank equal to string average) 1 11.11%
0.5 (below parity) 2 22.22%
Voters: 9. You may not vote on this poll

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Smolin book impact in January

by marcus
Tags: book, impact, january, smolin
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marcus
#1
Dec8-07, 02:53 PM
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The US has an extreme string monopoly situation compared with other countries (as several posters including f-h and John Baez have mentioned elsewhere) in the sense that there is only one non-string QG research group in the whole country.

This contrasts with Europe, Canada, not to mention other places, where there are a dozen or so active non-string QG groups (two or more faculty, typically, with grad students and postdocs). In the US, grad students do not have a choice, except at one university, and new PhDs usually have to go abroad to continue non-string work.

To my knowledge, The Trouble with Physics...and What Comes Next is the only book which both criticizes this bizarre imbalance and also describes the various non-string QG approaches pursued abroad but mostly blocked in the US. What interests me about the book is it's making positive policy recommendations. It argues that, since we don't know where the key advances will be made, research bets should be spread among string and non-string approaches.

In the belief that books can sometimes bring about change, I and perhaps some others are tracking the impact of this book-- The wider the audience it reaches, the greater its impact, and the more hope I have that the string research monopoly will be broken at several other top US universities. If that happens, the balance will be more like it is in the outside world and US graduate students will be have the option of pursuing careers in non-string QG theory and related areas of cosmology and astrophysics.

So I'm tracking Smolin's Amazon sales rank as a ratio relative to a benchmark which indicates the size of the problem it addresses: the salesranks of the five most popular stringy books averaged. Just to have a regular time, I take a day's reading at noon pacific. Some relative rankings in the past:

1 October 6.5
1 November 5.2
1 December 2.4
...
1 February ?


I don't plan to be alert by noon on 1 January, so let's skip that one. But suppose we look ahead a month. What do you think this ratio will be at noon on 1st of February? I am going to register my guess---you can if you want, or you can keep it to yourself. Either way, we will see how closely we come to correctly assessing the situation.

To give an example, at noon on 8 December the Smolin book's salesrank was #2879
and the average rank of the top five string books was #7334.2
The ratio was 7334.2/2879 = 2.5
The Smolin book was doing somewhat better than twice the stringy average used for comparison, but not leading by as great a factor as we saw earlier this year, in September and October.
In case anyone is curious, when I took the reading, the five most popular string books and their respective salesranks were:
Randall warped 3507
Greene elegant 3637
Greene fabric 3823
Kaku hyperspace 11,798
Kaku parallel 13,906

Is the Smolin book's popularity likely to rebound over the next couple of months? Or will it gradually fade, as might happen if everyone potentially interested in the book eventually gets a copy and demand saturates?
And if that's what's in the cards, then how steep a decline do you foresee?
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marcus
#2
Dec8-07, 03:50 PM
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I should mention Chronos' uncanny accurate guess, the last time.
At the beginning of November the ratio was up around 5 and 6 and said his wild-*** guess* for 1 December would be 2.4. That is what did in fact turn out, correct to two decimal places.

*he used an abbreviation like WAG which I think means that

the previous forecast thread was
http://physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=195338
6 people registered their predictions. As usual I was way off.

If you go back over the past 2 years and look at forecast polls about all sorts of things (mostly not book sales) the person most consistently right has been Arivero. Some people just have a knack for predicting.
==================

My feeling about the QG book market is that there needs to be some update of the overview that tells about recent developments in non-string QG-----recent conference and workshop impressions, firsthand experience, stories, up-and-coming lines of research. A followup to the Lee Smolin book. More on cosmology. More on the numerical modeling at supercomputers. Asymptotic safety. E8. But writing a book is a huge time-drain. Is there anyone who has the time and knows the stories?---not AFAICS.

Maybe Smolin's book will have the desired effect and there won't be need for a followup.
Chronos
#3
Dec9-07, 01:51 AM
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My guess is 3.7 on Jan 1 [returned books after xmas effect].

marcus
#4
Dec9-07, 12:01 PM
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Smolin book impact in January

Quote Quote by Chronos View Post
My guess is 3.7 on Jan 1 ...
Thanks for joining the poll. Whenever you wish (as a kind of bonus ) please take another shot---you deserve a free throw after last time!

I should apologize for lack of clarity in the heading. This time I meant for people to be able to project out on a longer timeframe, if they wished. It isn't far it's just TWO months, or by now even less. Anyway if you look at the actual poll question, the target date is 1 February.

So we will check informally on Jan 1, to see how close you came. But this time the forecasts are for Feb 1, so you are invited to post whatever you predict it will by by that time if and when you want, now or later (and we'll count that as your guess.)
=========================

the noon numbers for 9 December were a bit surprising. The ratio was 3.0. I had been expecting it to sink quite a bit especially what with parents buying presents (Brian Greene and Lisa Randall are obviously attractive role models for teens.)
Trouble with Physics #1792
String top five #5430.8
5430.8/1792 = 3.0
in case anyone is wondering, the five most popular string books were
elegant 2510
fabric 3347
parallel 5038
warped 5800
endless 10,459

======================
Three people have put in predictions so far.

Here are some past datapoints.

1 October 6.5
1 November 5.2
1 December 2.4
8 December 2.5
9 December 3.0
...
1 February ?
marcus
#5
Dec11-07, 06:00 PM
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As of noon 11 December
Trouble with Physics #2268
String top five #5753.4
5753.4/2268 = 2.5
in case anyone is curious, the five most popular string books were
elegant 3105
parallel 4600
warped 5296
fabric 6214
endless 9552


1 October 6.5
1 November 5.2
1 December 2.4
8 December 2.5
9 December 3.0
...
11 December 2.5
12 December 3.1
...
1 February ?


Essentially no change since the first of the month.
On 12 December the check was at 10AM, not possible later.
Surprised the index is as high as it is, since it's xmas book-buy season.
Maybe people are buying the Smolin book as a gift to give college-age friends/family.
marcus
#6
Dec14-07, 02:19 PM
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I found notes for noon 1 September. The ratio was 6340.6/995 = 6.4

1 September 6.4
1 October 6.5
1 November 5.2
1 December 2.4
8 December 2.5
9 December 3.0
...
11 December 2.5
12 December 3.1
13 December 2.6
14 December 4.1
15 December 2.5
...
1 February ?


As of noon 14 December
Trouble with Physics #1686
String top five #6915.0
6915.0/1686 = 4.1
and the five most popular string books were
elegant 2171
fabric 4795
parallel 7527
hyperspace 9739
warped 10,343

Surprised the index is this high, given the time of year. Ten days till. I certainly wasn't expecting "Trouble with Physics...and What Comes Next" to make it as an Xmas book.
marcus
#7
Dec19-07, 02:27 PM
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Smolin salesrank has really sunk relative to our stringy topfive benchmark.

1 September 6.4
1 October 6.5
1 November 5.2
1 December 2.4
8 December 2.5
9 December 3.0
...
11 December 2.5
12 December 3.1
13 December 2.6
14 December 4.1
15 December 2.5
...
19 December 1.6
20 December 1.8
...
1 February ?


If things go on like this, I may actually enjoy an upset win against Chronos (who has a proven record of astute guesses.)

In case there's interest in some of the details, on 20 December "Trouble" salesrank was #2624 and the five most popular stringy books were
elegant 2864
parallel 3933
fabric 4348
warped 4418
endless 7614
for an average rank of #4635.4
and a ratio of 4635.4/2624 = 1.8

What will happen after the holiday book-buying subsides?
marcus
#8
Dec23-07, 02:41 PM
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We have four predictions on record so far! J.J. Darland, ControlByte, Chronos, and mine.

1 September 6.4
1 October 6.5
1 November 5.2
1 December 2.4
8 December 2.5
9 December 3.0
...
11 December 2.5
12 December 3.1
13 December 2.6
14 December 4.1
15 December 2.5
...
19 December 1.6
20 December 1.8
...
23 December 3.1
24 December 2.4
...
1 January ?
...
1 February ?



Some recent ratios
6312.2/2039 = 3.1
6327.4/2613 = 2.4

We are trying to predict what this impact ratio will be on 1 February, although one of us has also registered an informal guess for 1 January as well. We will know about that in a few days. But the main result is still over a month off.
marcus
#9
Dec28-07, 02:04 PM
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We have FIVE predictions on record as of now: J.J. Darland, ControlByte, NerfMonkey, Chronos, and mine.

And the way things are going at the moment, we are all way off! The public standing of Smolin's book, gauged by its salesrank, has taken a nosedive. I just happened to look today and It is down at 0.7, lower than I have ever seen it.

1 September 6.4
1 October 6.5
1 November 5.2
1 December 2.4
8 December 2.5
9 December 3.0
...
11 December 2.5
12 December 3.1
13 December 2.6
14 December 4.1
15 December 2.5
...
19 December 1.6
20 December 1.8
...
23 December 3.1
24 December 2.4
...
28 December 0.7
29 December 0.9
...
1 January ?
...
1 February ?



Some recent ratios
6312.2/2039 = 3.1
6327.4/2613 = 2.4
5211.2/7957 = 0.7
3801.2/4026 = 0.9

We are trying to predict what this impact ratio will be on 1 February, although an informal guess for 1 January is on record as well. We will know about that in a few days. The main result is still over a month off. It ain't over till it's over
rbj
#10
Dec28-07, 02:24 PM
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i dunno how Smolin's book will do. all's i can say is that when i was in the Harvard Coop a couple weeks ago, i picked it up not expecting to buy it, read several pages, and then bought it. and i never buy books anymore, at least for myself.

i'm still in the beginning of it, now that i have it, i read it more at my leisure.
marcus
#11
Dec31-07, 02:41 PM
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RBJ I share your admiration for the book. I think it has given readers a deeper understanding of the forces shaping fundamental theory research and the experience of grappling with nature's basic questions. It may also impact funding and hiring policy at US research universities, which seems like a lot to hope for but is why I watch to see how wide an audience it reaches.

SIX predictions on record as of now: J.J. Darland, ControlByte, NerfMonkey, Chronos, mine, and DENSE has joined us with a forecast of 0.5----actually below par! Thanks Dense. It adds considerably to the interest to have a good spread of guesses.

The public standing of Smolin's book, gauged by its salesrank, took a nosedive right after Christmas and went lower than I had ever seen it----down around 0.7----but for the moment it seems to be pulling out. The readings are taken at noon pacific time.

1 September 6.4
1 October 6.5
1 November 5.2
1 December 2.4
8 December 2.5
9 December 3.0
...
11 December 2.5
12 December 3.1
13 December 2.6
14 December 4.1
15 December 2.5
...
19 December 1.6
20 December 1.8
...
23 December 3.1
24 December 2.4
...
28 December 0.7
29 December 0.9
30 December 1.2
31 December 1.9
1 January 1.5
...
1 February ?



Some recent ratios
6312.2/2039 = 3.1
6327.4/2613 = 2.4
5211.2/7957 = 0.7
3801.2/4026 = 0.9
5781.4/4954 = 1.2
4976.2/2678 = 1.9
5005.4/3350 = 1.5

We are trying to predict what this impact ratio will be at noon pacific on 1 February.
marcus
#12
Jan4-08, 02:26 PM
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At the moment it looks like DENSE had by far the clearest idea of how things might go for Smolin's book in January! I just checked at noon 4 January and the index was 0.6, very close to the level of 0.5 which Dense predicted for monthend. So if it stays like this, Dense is the clear winner. For me this was unexpected. I assumed the book's impact would decline as the market saturated, but not this abruptly.

SIX predictions for 1 Feburary are on record as of now: Chronos said 3, ControlByte and NerfMonkey said 2.5, J.J. Darland and I said 2.0, and and Dense said 0.5.

1 September 6.4
1 October 6.5
1 November 5.2
1 December 2.4
1 January 1.5
...
4 January 0.6
5 January 1.0
...
1 February ?



Some recent ratios

5005.4/3350 = 1.5
6511.8/11,452 = 0.6
6049.8/6361 = 1.0
Chronos
#13
Jan6-08, 03:39 AM
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I was counting on book returns from well intended givers by well informed recipients. But, while Xmas shopping, I noticed Smolin's book cover is . . uninspiring. The bright orange and tennis shoe thing does not work for me. It is, however, in synch with Lee's sense of humor. He is very personable, engaging and scary smart. I'm hoping to tempt him into making an appearance here. We can be pretty scary too.
marcus
#14
Jan7-08, 12:45 PM
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6 Jan 7735.8/4904 = 1.6
7 Jan 13463.4/3447 = 3.9

Curiously enough, if today were the target date of 1 February, Chronos prediction would be the closest. Now as we get away from the Christmas-NewYear season things look a little different.

There could be some process right around newyears (perhaps bookstore orders temporarily dominating individual customer orders----or something involving Amazon gift certificates being cashed in) that I don't understand that makes for a few atypical weeks.

Quote Quote by Chronos View Post
He is very personable, engaging and scary smart. I'm hoping to tempt him into making an appearance here...
About Lee, here's a chance for you (and/or him) to surprise me. AFAIK the most important thing he is doing right now is what he is doing in collaboration with Kauffman, Bilson-Thompson, Hackett, and Wan. Matter as gnarlies propagating in the spin network which describes geometry.
This doesn't lend itself very well to discussion on the internet via blog or board.
I don't see why Smolin would want to make an appearance. Wouldn't it be a waste of time that could be more profitably spent elsewhere?

I'd think if anyone would make an appearance about it, it could be one of the JUNIOR members of the firm, Wan or Hackett. Sundance of course would be great---he is sort of inbetween senioritywise.

I think we will hear more via the ILQGS online seminars, the PIRSA video talks, and postings on ArXiv. It is just a better medium for talking about how to implement matter as mobile kinks of geometry. traveling ravelings of gravity. gnits. quirks and gniticles

One of those guys might conceivably want to visit here right after they bring out one or two new papers. As a way of gauging reaction to their papers or stimulating broader discussion.
But somehow I doubt. Online seminars are so much better. sound slides video.

Do you see Smolin as having already won in the public arena as concerns string monopoly in US institutions? Does it now seem more a question of what plays out in the halls and back rooms of the NSF DOE and NASE? I'm not sure, so I'd welcome someone else's take.
marcus
#15
Jan8-08, 02:48 PM
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Six predictions for 1 Feburary: Chronos said 3, ControlByte and NerfMonkey said 2.5, J.J. Darland and I said 2.0, and and Dense said 0.5.

1 September 6.4
1 October 6.5
1 November 5.2
1 December 2.4
1 January 1.5
...
4 January 0.6
5 January 1.0
6 January 1.6
7 January 3.7
8 January 2.4
9 January 1.2
...
1 February ?


Salesranks are as of noon pacific time.
Some recent ratios

13,463.4/3447 = 3.7
11,693.6/4900 = 2.4
10,671.8/8903 = 1.2
marcus
#16
Jan12-08, 02:00 PM
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Predictions for 1 Feburary:
Chronos 3.0
ControlByte and NerfMonkey 2.5
J.J. Darland and Marcus 2.0
Dense 0.5.

1 September 6.4
1 October 6.5
1 November 5.2
1 December 2.4
1 January 1.5
...
4 January 0.6
5 January 1.0
6 January 1.6
7 January 3.7
8 January 2.4
9 January 1.2
10 January 2.7
...
12 January 2.3
...
1 February ?


Salesranks are as of noon pacific time.
Some recent ratios

13,463.4/3447 = 3.7
11,693.6/4900 = 2.4
10,671.8/8903 = 1.2
14,367.8/5386 = 2.7
6929.4/3065 = 2.3
mormonator_rm
#17
Jan12-08, 03:04 PM
P: 209
Fine, I am tempted to throw in a prediction. I actually got the book as a Christmas present from my Grandmother (yeah, grandma's rock!), and I have enjoyed the parts I have read so far. So I will, in my usual haphazard way, without knowing anything about the future at all, throwing all caution to the wind, and defying the obviously-true law of large numbers, forecast a prediction that on Feb. 1st, at noon pacific time, the ratio will fall to 1.1.

I voted in the poll for 1.0, but I am specifying here that I mean 1.1. I feel like I'm in Vegas playing a game where I can't win any money, and have loads of ego to lose... but then again, I've never been to Vegas...
marcus
#18
Jan13-08, 02:30 PM
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Hello Mormonator!
I see you are in charge of the Library of a town which helped crucially decide the outcome of the Civil War by the simple expedient of burning a bridge over the beautiful Susquehanna River!
And also that you are involved in the study of Cosmic Rays. As someone who approves highly of both public libraries and cosmic rays, I bid you welcome.

We now have seven predictions for 1 Feburary:
Chronos 3.0
ControlByte and NerfMonkey 2.5
J.J. Darland and Marcus 2.0
Mormonator 1.0
Dense 0.5.

1 September 6.4
1 October 6.5
1 November 5.2
1 December 2.4
1 January 1.5
...
4 January 0.6
5 January 1.0
6 January 1.6
7 January 3.7
8 January 2.4
9 January 1.2
10 January 2.7
...
12 January 2.3
13 January 3.3
14 January 1.4
...
1 February ?


Salesranks are as of noon pacific time.
Some recent ratios

13,463.4/3447 = 3.7
11,693.6/4900 = 2.4
10,671.8/8903 = 1.2
14,367.8/5386 = 2.7
6929.4/3065 = 2.3
8380.6/2536 = 3.3

In case anyone is interested, the five most popular stringy books today (13 Jan) were
Randall warped 4832
Greene elegant 5781
Kaku parallel 8638
Kaku hyperspace 11,198
Greene fabric 11,454

so that day the average salesrank of the top five was 8380.6 and that of the Smolin book was 2536----judging by salesranks, "Trouble" was doing roughly 3 times better than the average stringy topfiver.
If that were the target date of 1 February then Chronos, who has an uncanny record of making unreasonable-looking guesses which turn out right, would be the winner.


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