Where Do the Experts Go When They Need an Expert?

If your game crashes, or Windows keeps spitting out bizarre error messages, you google the problem. Chances are, you find someone on a help forum who had the same problem, and hopefully someone else posted the answer.

(If your preferred strategy is to ask a younger relative, then I’m sorry, but nine times out of ten they’re just doing that.)

What do scientists do, though? We’re at the cutting-edge of knowledge. When we have a problem, who do we turn to?

Typically, Stack Exchange.

The thing is, when we’re really confused about something, most of the time it’s not really a physics problem. We get mystified by the intricacies of Mathematica, or we need some quality trick from numerical methods. And while I haven’t done much with them yet, there are communities dedicated to answering actual physics questions, like Physics Overflow.

The idea I was working on last week? That came from a poster on the Mathematica Stack Exchange, who mentioned a handy little function called Association that I hadn’t heard of before. (It worked, by the way.)

Science is a collaborative process. Sometimes that means actual collaborators, but sometimes we need a little help from folks online, just like everyone else.


One thought on “Where Do the Experts Go When They Need an Expert?

  1. Wyrd Smythe

    And, of course, “the web” came out of CERN as a project for sharing science among scientists. Even before then, the internet was a big resource for us computer programers in exactly the way that you describe. I’ve gotten help from fellow programmers all over the world!

    Liked by 1 person


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