Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

> it has not gone through peer review

I think this is really all we need to know.

There's nothing intrinsically holy about peer review, though I don't blame you for having it as a filter. More useful to me are these two paragraphs:

>Kobakhidze uses Verlinde's approach to re-derive the wave equation that will describe the energy levels of neutrons falling in Earth's gravitational well. What he finds is that, in contrast to the more conventional equation, there are two extra terms now present. One would appear to account for the relativistic rest energy of the neutron; the other is a form of an extreme suppression of certain parts of the neutron's wavefunction. Both of these additions result in problems for Verlinde's theory.

>The first extra term, the relativistic rest energy, would manifest itself as a constant shift in the neutron's energy states (height above the bottom of the well)—this is not seen at all in the experiments. According to Kobakhidze, though, it is the second extra term that really throws a wrench into entropic gravity. The second term, if correct, would significantly change the dynamics of the experiment, essentially causing neutrons to fall through the small hole in the bottom of the potential well. There's no sign of this happening in any meaningful way in the experiment. Thus, Kobakhidze concludes, "we are driven to the conclusion that gravity is not an entropic force."

It has not yet gone through peer review. It's a long process. I doubt that this is one those "scientists" who deliberately avoid peer review.

Ars regularly do this, discuss papers that are "hot off the press" and have not been fully peer reviewed yet. This is simply the reality of following the bleeding edge of science. They are always up front about it, I don't see a problem.

The problem I have with this, as a reviewer, is that an amazing amount of junk gets submitted to journals with no hope of passing peer review. With your standard, all this junk is merely things "hot off the press". As to whether this is "one of those scientists", I don't know (probably not). But the article hints that his idea has already been falsified, and yet it still goes through with publishing about it breathlessly!

Peer review is a more important standard than you take it to be. For every announced-but-not-yet-peer-reviewed revolutionary discovery -- Wiles's proof of Fermat's Last Theorem comes to mind -- there are a massive number of P!=NP papers "awaiting peer review", every one of which is dead wrong, but each of which will excite some moron in the press to write about it.

The press has such an incredibly bad track record at this that my personal estimate, based on the performance of similar breathless "hot off the presses" articles I have read, is that without reading the article there is over a 95% probability that this paper won't pass peer review. Once I read the article, based on the fact that half of it is a sheepish admission that there are problems with the theorem, I think that this prior probability was more than confirmed.

With a probability this low, I see no reason to waste my time reading breathless articles like this.

I don't think you're giving enough credit to the author of this summary by calling it "breathless." His conclusion is:

This is how science works. Ideas are proposed, they are backed up, they are shot down. Over time, it would not surprise me to see Verlinde defend his work. Perhaps Kobakhidze's derivation and its extension to the microscopic case is incorrect. Perhaps Verlinde will revisit his original work to revise how microscopic cases should be handled. Whatever happens, science will move on; time, further arguments, and experiments will be the ultimate arbiter of which drastically different view of reality is correct.

I think this article has two purposes: explain a new, untested theory, and demonstrate how science works in practice. He links to, and discusses, two papers that refute the theory. You call that a "sheepish admission," but I think that was one of his goals.

Ars deal with this in the first paragraph:

"In this article, we are going to look at a manuscript that purports to overturn hundreds of years of accepted ideas about gravity, and use it as an illustration of how controversial ideas are dealt with in modern physics."

I don't think you can be any more up front than that. It's not a sheepish admission, it's the whole point of the article. Ars are trying to highlight exactly the problems you're talking about.

> I don't think you're giving enough credit to the author of this summary by calling it "breathless."

I think you're right -- on rereading I shouldn't be laying the smackdown on the Ars article: he does use the paper as an example of the scientific process at work. Nonetheless I think that by advertising a paper which hasn't been through peer review, he's promoting it. It'd have been a lot better if he told his story with an example which has already gone through the cycle of being proposed, shot down, and buried.

Applications are open for YC Summer 2019

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact