Are theoretical results ‘Results’?

I was cyberstalking Ray Goldstein this morning, trying (and mostly failing) to write some background for a post about a new paper from his lab (de Maleprade et al. 2020), when I came across this piece of brilliance:

Goldstein 2018

Are theoretical results ‘Results’?

My purpose here is to push back against the view that theory is not a ‘Result’. I argue for the unabashed inclusion of mathematical formulations and pedagogy within the body of papers published in eLife and other primarily biological journals. By interleaving the experimental and theoretical results it is possible to tell a story, and I firmly believe this makes for much more interesting and readable papers. It is also faithful to the scientific method, in which one goes back and forth with experiment and hypothesis.

Of course, this isn’t the only paper with a one-word abstract:

Hough 2018 screenshotI can’t find it right now, but I vaguely remember that some crank had supported a claim that moon phases cause earthquakes with data showing that essentially all earthquakes happen within two weeks of a full moon. Which is true (but not much use for prediction), since we’re always within two weeks of a full moon. (If anyone can find that, please post to the comments)


Stable links:

De Maleprade, H., Moisy, F., Ishikawa, T. and Goldstein, R.E., 2020. Motility and phototaxis of Gonium, the simplest differentiated colonial alga. Physical Review E101(2), p.022416. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevE.101.022416

Goldstein, R.E., 2018. Point of View: Are theoretical results ‘Results’? Elife7, p.e40018. doi: 10.7554/eLife.40018

Hough, S.E., 2018. Do large (magnitude≥ 8) global earthquakes occur on preferred days of the calendar year or lunar cycle?. Seismological Research Letters89(2A), pp.577-581. doi: 10.1785/0220170154


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