Stock images of scientists are hilarious – but it's time to get rid of them

We've worked for quite some time on this post (it takes time to make scientists spin in 3D ...). So we were indeed surprised as we saw the very same topic trending on Twitter under hashtag #BadStockPhotosOfMyJob right before we hit the “publish” button on this post.

Is this a sign? In any case, it seems it's finally time to discuss how ridiculous stock images of scientists are.

However, what prompted us to research this topic is not that stock image sites are full of weird images of scientists. A more serious angle is the following question: Why are so many reputable publications actually using those images reinforcing bizarre stereotypes about their own audience and community?

We hope after reading this post, that will be a thing of the past.

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Meet 5 incredible female scientists and their Google Doodles

Google Doodles are those alternative versions of the Google logo to celebrate holidays, events, anniversaries and the lives of famous artists, pioneers and scientists. Since 1998, more than 2000 different Doodles have appeared on the Google homepage around the world. Not every Doodle gets displayed in every country, which is why some of us have missed out on some of the best ones.

Google has celebrated the birthdays of some fascinating female scientists over the past years. We have decided to dedicate this blog post to some of them, to get a chance to get to know some of the most inspiring women in science a little better.

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Tragic deaths in science: Paul Kammerer - the cold case of science fraud

Science is a peculiar business in the modern world. It is one of the very last strongholds of a kind of “ethical code” that implies that published data is true — or at least solid within the realm of technical or biological limitations. Scientists don’t cheat. Not even on themselves. Science, the world, and the universe (as scientists like to believe) rely on scientists to be honest. That is the reason why fraud in science still causes such an earthquake, rocking the foundations of the field. The mere accusation of fraud can end a scientific career, dishonoring prior achievements, and, in the worst case, end in disaster.

The Austrian biologist Paul Kammerer, and his “case of the Midwife Toad”, is still one of the biggest unsolved mysteries of scientific fraud, in which a tragic suicide may have been a confession of guilt. It could have been, however, a final acknowledgement that his work of a lifetime will never be viewed without suspicion ever again after such calumny.

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Tragic deaths in science: Kurt Gödel - looking over the edge of reason

Parts of Kurt Gödel’s biography resemble the celebrity stories you find in a modern day tabloid. The Austrian mathematician rocketed to fame at a young age (completing his incompleteness theorem aged 25), hung out with other celebrities at cool places (one of his closest friends was Albert Einstein who he worked with at Princeton), rebelliously married someone of disputable reputation (a former nightclub dancer who was divorced and 6 years his major), and died under extraordinary and somewhat mysterious consequences.

Gödel's work shook the foundations of mathematics for all time. This and his tragic biography not only make him a legend but also the topic of our second post in our series “Tragic deaths in science”.

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Tragic deaths in science: Ludwig Boltzmann — a mind in disorder

Can a life be summed up by 𝑆=𝛋∙log𝑊? The equation is the slightly geeky inscription on the tombstone of Ludwig Boltzmann, Austrian physicist and pioneer of statistical mechanics.

The formula shows the relation between entropy and the probability of possible thermodynamic states of matter. It includes the constant 𝛋, later termed Boltzmann constant.

How can a lifetime’s achievement so fundamental (including a constant named after you for mathematical eternity) end in the tragic suicide of the name-bearer during a holiday in Italy?

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