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Posts Tagged ‘facebook’

Using Facebook for Physics

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

Often in my day-to-day work I encounter some little problem in software or mathematics that I figure somebody ought to know the answer to.  In my years as a graduate student, I’ve learned that the quickest way to solve these problems, if a cursory search of the internet and a few standard references doesn’t help, is to actually go around the office and ask the people I know who work around me.  Sometimes they don’t happen to know either — but I can’t shake the nagging feeling that somebody I know knows how to solve the problem.  My solution to this, on a few recent occasions, has been to turn to Facebook.

Thus last Thursday afternoon, my Facebook status was:

Seth Zenz needs a statistician. Or anyone else who knows how to find the error on a correlation coefficient.

Within a couple hours, two of my friends, one a physicist and one a friend from college, had replied with the correct answer, which turned out to be explained on Wikipedia — which pointed, in turn, back to the original statistics paper from 1921 that answered the question.   So Facebook is good for more than just keeping up with my friends; it also expands the size of “the office” I can go around to ask questions in!

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