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Predicting April TWP rank

  1. Less than 2: TWP less than twice as popular

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  2. 2 - 2.4: TWP declines from March 2007 level

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  3. 2.5 - 2.9: stays at March level

    100.0%
  4. 3 - 3.9: increasing public interest, as gauged by salesrank

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  5. 4 or more: TWP reader interest four times more than benchmark

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. Apr 4, 2007 #1

    marcus

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    Public interest in the big questions is the lifeblood of theoretical science---an important part of what is needed to keep the enterprise vital. From this perspective, public readership of QG books is a matter of concern---particularly books that break out of the mold.

    In order to track the public interest in Smolin's recent book "The Trouble with Physics...and What Comes Next" (abbr. TWP) I have been recording the book's amazon salesrank, checked at the same time each day. In March 2007 the TWP salesrank average was 1968.


    In order to have something to compare it with, I use the average salesrank of the five most popular string books on any given day. The March average was 5785.
    So one can say that judging by their Amazon salesrank, TWP was about 2.9 times more popular than the benchmark: the average string book in the top five.

    What do you predict this "public interest ratio" will be for April?

    Side comment: on a daily basis the indices respond somewhat to events in the media, such as the recent Krauss-Greene debate in Washington, and past interviews with Lee Smolin, Lisa Randall, Brian Greene on national shows, possibly also to book reviews in the press. But the indices may also be showing longterm trends. After books have reached peak in the arc of sales it is very difficult to judge if, and on what timetable, their popularity will tail off. Some turn out to be durable classics and others not.
     
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  3. Apr 4, 2007 #2

    marcus

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    Until further notice I am making a daily check of the salesranks at noon CENTRAL TIME. It takes less than 5 minutes and is very easy to do, so you may wish to try it.

    For March, the string average salesrank was 5785.5, the TWP figure was 1967.7, ratio 2.94.
    Here is our March prediction poll. Francesca and i have bragging rights on this one :biggrin:
    https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=157912

    So far in April the results have been

    01 april noon 4724.8 (1125) ratio 4.2
    02 april noon 4582.4 (1105) ratio 4.1
    03 april noon 5777.8 (1562) ratio 3.7
    04 april noon 6937.4 (671) ratio 10.3

    My forecast for the ratio is 2.5 - 2.9 (about the same as March) and you see that early April ratios are a bit higher. My feeling is that they are high because of recent news, like the Krauss-Greene Debate at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC.
    And perhaps also things like Bloggingheads, although I don't know how many people watch that.
    News from England---the Smolin's Oxford debate, London debate, and BBC interview---could also have affected sales at US Amazon although it is hard to see how that would happen.

    Anyway I am guessing the index will decline a bit later in the month, so these early figures are not a reliable indication.

    What do you predict? If you register your guess then we can see who has a good sense of these things and makes the best forecasts.
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2007
  4. Apr 4, 2007 #3
    (High-energy-highly-specualtive)Physics has finally boiled down to semi-popular-book salesranks in an online book store(and silly online 'debates'). Now, that's the trouble with physics. :rolleyes:
     
  5. Apr 4, 2007 #4

    marcus

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    Well, like it or not, public interest in Big Questions is one aspect of the enterprise.:rolleyes:

    And it is ultimately where the money comes from that supports those doing research professionally.
    Incidentally, I think we at PF are part of the process that revitalizes public interest in humanity's efforts to probe the Big Questions.

    What came before the Big Bang? What is space made of? Why does it expand? What is matter and why does it bend space?
    What are the fundamental degrees of freedom describing space time and matter?
    What is the microscopic dynamics of those fundamental degrees of freedom?
    How does the macroscopic picture emerge from that?
    What determines the basic numbers in the model?

    If debates can charge the battery of public interest in these things---which is what the Smithsonian thought when they got together with the DOE Science Office and organized the Krauss-Greene debate---then it's GOOD :biggrin:

    And in a small way we do our part too :smile:
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2007
  6. Apr 7, 2007 #5

    marcus

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    So far in April the results have been

    01 april noon 4724.8 (1125) ratio 4.2
    02 april noon 4582.4 (1105) ratio 4.1
    03 april noon 5777.8 (1562) ratio 3.7
    04 april noon 6937.4 (671) ratio 10.3
    05 april noon 8401.8 (1140) ratio 7.4
    06 april noon 7255.2 (1386) ratio 5.2
    07 april noon 7936.4 (1468) ratio 5.4
    08 april noon 9764.2 (2530) ratio 3.9


    My forecast that the Smolin book popularity index would be about the same as it was in March ( 2.5 - 2.9 ) now looks to be way low.

    We now have the results of the first week of April. For the first week (up thru 7 april) the salesranks add up to
    45615.8 (8457) and average out to 6516.5 (1208.1). So the ratio for 01 thru 07 April is 5.4.

    That means that judging by their Amazon sales ranks the Smolin book was selling a bit over 5 times better than the average of the five most popular string books, which serves as our benchmark.

    So far this month "The Trouble with Physics" is doing considerably better than I expected it would (roughly by a factor of two)
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2007
  7. Apr 7, 2007 #6

    marcus

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    I wonder if anyone would like to present a different viewpoint on what I see as the beneficial impact of the Woit and Smolin books.

    I judge this by the evidence of events---things that have happened since 1 June 2006 when the Woit book appeared in UK. As you may remember the reviews in a halfdozen top UK newpapers were highly favorable. The book sold well, and was of course followed by the US edition and then, after that, by The Trouble with Physics in both US and UK editions.

    Since June 2006, millions of Euros have been committed to supporting Background Independent (quantum geometrical) approaches to Quantum Gravity. That is what the setting up of QGQG by the European Science Foundation (ESF) means. Research funds have been committed to QGQG by some 7 or 8 countries.

    A QGQG school has been funded and has taken place.
    A QGQG conference has been set in motion for next year.
    A Noncommutative Field Theory workshop has been planned for November 2007 (this is what Freidel, Livine, and Kowalski-Glikman, among others, have been working on recently---it relates to DSR or DeSitter relativity).

    In the US it appears that, since June 2006, the first Loop researcher has been offered an appointment at KITP Santa Barbara---up to now exclusively string. I see that as a crack in the wall of prejudice. Does anyone want to give a different interpretation? For the first time, it would seem, someone is doing Loop Quantum Cosmology at KITP. (Only part-time of course:biggrin: )

    Maybe you can think of other ways the atmosphere and environment of QG research has changed since the Woit and Smolin books went on sale.

    =======================

    as an afterthought, here is another way to gauge impact of the Smolin book.
    Based on daily observation of the standings in the US amazon physics bestseller list
    this tracks the average standing of the five most popular string books, whichever happened
    to be the five most popular on that particular day:

    17-31 oct average 20.5
    01-13 nov average 20.4
    14-25 nov average 23.8
    26 nov-07 dec average 25.4

    ...
    ...

    01 april noon 27.6
    02 april noon 25.4
    03 april noon 30.0
    04 april noon 36.2
    05 april noon 43.0
    06 april noon 39.4
    07 april noon 42.0
    08 april noon 56.8

    What this seems to indicate is that string pop (Greene, Randall, Kaku, Susskind...) was selling steadily and rather well in Sept-Nov 2006 but that judging from this sample from April it is not selling as well in 2007. The Jan-March figures bear this out as well. I suppose this can partly be attributed to the impact of the Woit and Smolin books. How one greets this news depends somewhat on whether one considers string pop good reading material.
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2007
  8. Apr 10, 2007 #7

    marcus

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    So far in April the results have been

    01 april noon 4724.8 (1125) ratio 4.2
    02 april noon 4582.4 (1105) ratio 4.1
    03 april noon 5777.8 (1562) ratio 3.7
    04 april noon 6937.4 (671) ratio 10.3
    05 april noon 8401.8 (1140) ratio 7.4
    06 april noon 7255.2 (1386) ratio 5.2
    07 april noon 7936.4 (1468) ratio 5.4
    08 april noon 9764.2 (2530) ratio 3.9
    09 april noon 6866.0 (1479) ratio 4.6
    10 april noon 6960.0 (2755) ratio 2.5


    My forecast that the Smolin book popularity index (relative to topfive string books) would be about the same as it was in March ( 2.5 - 2.9 ) now looks to be way low.

    We now have the results of the first ten days. Up thru 10 April the salesranks add to 69206.0 (15221) and average to 6920.6 (1522.1)
    The ratio for 01 thru 10 April is 4.5

    That means that so far this month, judging by their Amazon salesranks, the Smolin book was selling a bit over 4 times better than the average topfiver string book, which is serving as our benchmark.
    ===============
    February ratio
    5101.0/1802.6 = 2.8.

    March ratio
    5785.5/1967.7 = 2.94.

    01-10 April ratio
    6920.6/1522.1 = 4.5
    ===============
    that other index, that I mentioned in the previous post, shows some change from its October-November level:

    17-31 oct average 20.5
    01-13 nov average 20.4
    14-25 nov average 23.8
    26 nov-07 dec average 25.4
    ...
    ...
    01 - 10 april average 37.8
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2007
  9. Apr 14, 2007 #8

    marcus

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    So far in April the results have been

    01 april noon 4724.8 (1125) ratio 4.2
    02 april noon 4582.4 (1105) ratio 4.1
    03 april noon 5777.8 (1562) ratio 3.7
    04 april noon 6937.4 (671) ratio 10.3
    05 april noon 8401.8 (1140) ratio 7.4
    06 april noon 7255.2 (1386) ratio 5.2
    07 april noon 7936.4 (1468) ratio 5.4
    08 april noon 9764.2 (2530) ratio 3.9
    09 april noon 6866.0 (1479) ratio 4.6
    10 april noon 6960.0 (2755) ratio 2.5
    11 april noon 7047.4 (2582) ratio 2.7
    12 april noon 6793.4 (1944) ratio 3.5
    13 april noon 6452.2 (1563) ratio 4.1
    14 april noon 6078.8 (1552) ratio 3.9
    15 april noon 7117.8 (1878) ratio 3.8


    My forecast that the Smolin book popularity index (relative to topfive string books) would be about the same as it was in March ( 2.5 - 2.9 ) now looks to be on the low side. Instead, for the first half of the month it looks like it will be over 4.

    We now have results for the first fifteen days. Up thru 15 April the salesranks sum to 102695.6 (24740) and average to 6846.4 (1649.3).
    The ratio for the first half of April is 4.2.

    That means that so far this month, judging by Amazon salesranks, the Smolin book was selling a bit over 4 times better than the average topfiver string book, which is serving as our benchmark.
    ===============
    February ratio
    5101.0/1802.6 = 2.8.

    March ratio
    5785.5/1967.7 = 2.94.

    01-15 April ratio
    6846.4/1649.3 = 4.2

    ===============
    The other index, that I mentioned in the earlier post, is simply the average standing of the topfive string books on the Amazon physics bestseller list. It shows some change from its October-November level:

    17-31 oct average 20.5
    01-13 nov average 20.4
    14-25 nov average 23.8
    26 nov-07 dec average 25.4
    ...
    ...
    01 - 31 march average 32.2
    01 - 15 april average 37.4
    =============

    (for later reference, 01-15 running total was 560.6)
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2007
  10. Apr 20, 2007 #9

    marcus

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    Up thru 20 April the salesranks sum to 130873.8 (37490) and average to 6543.7 (1874.5).
    The ratio for the first twenty days of April is 3.5.

    That means that so far this month, judging by Amazon salesranks, the Smolin book was selling a bit over 3 times better than the average topfiver string book serving as our benchmark.
    ===============
    February ratio
    5101.0/1802.6 = 2.8.

    March ratio
    5785.5/1967.7 = 2.9.

    01-20 April ratio
    6543.7/1874.5 = 3.5

    ===============
    The other index, that I mentioned in the earlier post, is simply the average standing of the topfive string books on the Amazon physics bestseller list. It shows some change from its October-November level. The string books' standings, and therefore the index, has tended to increase as they have become somewhat less popular:

    17-31 oct average 20.5
    01-13 nov average 20.4
    14-25 nov average 23.8
    26 nov-07 dec average 25.4
    ...
    ...
    01 - 31 march average 32.2
    01 - 20 april average 35.7
    =============

    (for later reference, 01-20 running total was 715.0)
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2007
  11. Apr 27, 2007 #10

    marcus

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    Up thru 28 April the string topfive salesranks (resp. TWP salesranks) sum to
    187494.2 (65169) and average to 6696.2 (2327.5) ratio 2.9.

    That means that so far this month, judging by Amazon salesranks, the Smolin book was selling 2.9 times better than the average topfiver string book serving as our benchmark. This is similar to its performance in March and within the predicted range of 2.5 - 2.9.
    ===============
    February ratio
    5101.0/1802.6 = 2.8.

    March ratio
    5785.5/1967.7 = 2.9.

    01-28 April ratio
    6696.2/2327.5 = 2.9
    ===============
    The other index we've been watching is simply the average standing of the topfive string books in the Amazon physics bestseller list. It shows some change from its October-November level. The string books' standings, and therefore the index, have tended to increase as they have become somewhat less popular:

    17-31 oct average 20.5
    01-13 nov average 20.4
    14-25 nov average 23.8
    26 nov-07 dec average 25.4
    ...
    ...
    01 - 31 march average 32.2
    01 - 28 april average 36.0
    =============

    (for later reference, 01-28 running total was 1007.4)
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2007
  12. Apr 30, 2007 #11

    marcus

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    Tally for the month

    Up thru 30 April the string topfive salesranks (resp. TWP salesranks) sum to
    202239.4 (73313) and average to 6741.3 (2443.8) ratio 2.8.

    That means that so far this month, judging by Amazon salesranks, the Smolin book was selling 2.8 times better than the average topfiver string book serving as our benchmark. This is similar to its performance in February and March, and within the predicted range of 2.5 - 2.9.
    ===============
    February ratio
    5101.0/1802.6 = 2.8.

    March ratio
    5785.5/1967.7 = 2.9.

    April ratio
    6741.3/2443.8 = 2.8

    Since the ability to edit expires in a few hours, I can only include one observation from the month of May in this post. For what it's worth
    ratio on 1 May (noon central time as usual)
    8271.6/3847 = 2.2


    ===============
    The other index we've been watching is simply the average standing of the topfive string books in the Amazon physics bestseller list. It shows some change from its October-November level. The string books' standings, and therefore the index, have tended to increase as they have become somewhat less popular:

    17-31 oct average 20.5
    01-13 nov average 20.4
    14-25 nov average 23.8
    26 nov-07 dec average 25.4
    ...
    ...
    01 - 31 march average 32.2
    01 - 30 april average 36.2
    01 may at noon 46.0
    =============
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2007
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