November 14, 2013

Improving the Program

"I went on to test the program in every way I could devise. I strained it to expose its weaknesses. I ran it for high-mass stars and low-mass stars, for stars born exceedingly hot and those born relatively cold. I ran it assuming the superfluid currents beneath the crust to be absent--not because I wanted to know the answer, but because I had developed an intuitive feel for the answer in this particular case. Finally I got a run in which the computer showed the pulsar's temperature to be less than absolute zero. I had found an error. I chased down the error and fixed it. Now I had improved the program to the point where it would not run at all."

--George Greenstein, Frozen Star: Of Pulsars, Black Holes and the Fate of Stars

Posted by Vanderleun at November 14, 2013 9:46 AM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

I hate when that happens!

Posted by: leelu at November 14, 2013 12:02 PM

Being a research scientist is the pits. Nothing ever goes as plans, peers constantly torpedo your work, the hours are atrocious, and the pay is low. At least that was the case 50 years ago when I was one. I chunked it and became a career air transport pilot. I had a cousin who chunked a research oriented business school professorship, bought a big rig, and hauled freight the rest of his life. Neither of us ever looked back.

Posted by: BillH at November 15, 2013 2:42 PM

Standard programming practice. MUNG - Modify Until No Good.

Too bad you missed out on the Global Warming Scam, Bill. You'd be living large, rubbing shoulders with Al Gore, eating shrimp cocktail at the UN, rolling in grant money... Of course, you might have too much integrity as a scientist to say things like "I can't show you the data. You'll just try to find something wrong with it." In which case, never mind!

Posted by: SteveS at November 16, 2013 10:24 AM