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Clarivate Analytics (WoS): 2017, 2018 and 2019 Highly Cited Researcher (HCR)

Hypotheses are requisite for possible/probable solutions to Earth problems.  Hypotheses are, however, qualitative, and must be tested against existing and new observations with quantitative approach.  Simple models are preferred over complex ones, and complex models become necessary if no simple models work.

Think Big”      “To be truly creative, you must loose the fear of being wrong”      “Where there is a will there is a way

Yaoling Niu’s thought of the day:

(YN, 01MAR20, Durham)

In Earth Science research, it is hardly possible to prove any model right, but to prove it wrong is really easy because one percent failure fails it altogether.

(YN, 22FEB20, Durham)

The true value of a scientific paper lies in its presentation of new findings and new understandings in easily accessible way, but many papers seem to confuse the readers that scientific research is mysterious, complex, incomprehensible, and is forever debatable.

(YN, 30JAN20, Durham)

Has the world really changed? Since when has the purpose of scientific research become nothing more than just publish papers, especially in “high impact” journals? The number of journals and papers has been growing rapidly but new knowledge and discoveries are few. In fact, we know well that the purpose of scientific research is not to publish papers, but to reveal the mysteries of nature, quest solutions to unknowns and discover natural laws, thus serving the mankind. Then, to timely share these new findings with the public in the form of publication is the purpose of writing papers.

(YN, 05FEB19, Durham)

Large scale Earth processes are likely very  simple, but the key skill to discover the simplicity is to correctly identify the primary variables that control the processes!

(YN, 20FEB17, Durham)

In earth science research, for the same data, there can be many different interpretations, but reasonable interpretations are only a few and strictly speaking the correct interpretation can only be one if and only if the interpreters are open-minded and objective.

(YN, 15OCT16, Durham; revised on 15OCT2021)

A hypothesis should not be opinionated as being right or wrong, but should be judged whether it is reasonable or not. A hypothesis is reasonable if it can be tested, but is meaningless if it is untestable. If a hypothesis is proved to be true, then it can be developed into a theory. If a hypothesis is rejected, then we must formulate a new testable hypothesis, and repeat the process, until such newly developed theory is proven to stand the test of time (before it is found to fail to explain new observations). This is the essence of scientific methodology.

一个假说不应该被认为是“对”还是“错”,而应该考虑其是否合理。一个可以被检验的假说是合理的,但如果不可检验,那肯定毫无意义。如果一个假说被证明是正确的,那么它可以发展成一个理论。如果一个假说被否定,那么我们必须提出一个新的可检验的假说, 周而复始,直到这一新理论经得起时间的检验。这是科学方法论的精髓。

(YN, 11JAN16, Durham)

Be aggresive scientifically, but be nice personally.

(YN, 15OCT15, Durham)

Following bandwagons is easy, but insights matter!

(YN, 6NOV14, Durham)

Independent thinking, original ideas and actual solutions to geological problems can be (and have been) ignored because of the BANDWAGON EFFECT, which explains the absence of major scientific revolution in Earth Science since the advent of the plate tectonics theory in late 1960’s.

(YN, 15OCT14, Durham)

智慧是真正解决问题的钥匙!Solution to problems comes from  Wisdom!)

(YN, 15OCT13, Durham)

智慧来自实事求是!Wisdom comes from practical thinking and honest acting!)

(YN, 15OCT12, Durham)

Geological research all ends up with models. Multiple models or multiple hypotheses are “intermediate ideas” towards the unifying theory. A new model is needed if and only if existing models don’t work or don’t work well.

(YN, 15OCT11, Xi’an)

梁思成追求的完美:“有哲学家的头脑,社会学家的眼光,文学家的洞察力,心理学家的敏感,及工程师的精确和实践”,但这些对一个称职的科学家还不够。对一个称职的地球科学家,这些都需要,但还需要 “Thinking really big!”

(YN, 15OCT10, Durham)



(YN, 15OCT09, Durham)

贵在认真,贵在实事求是,贵还须“好高”更要“骛远” (Basic qualities: Do seriously, act honestly and plan ambitiously)

(YN, 25JUN09, Davos) – On “Earth Dynamics” (presented at the Wyllie Symposium, Goldschmidt Conference):
Plate Tectonics will not work or will not work well without the seismic low velocity zone (LVZ). (cause and/or effect?)

(YN, 20JAN09, Durham)

An intelligent manager respects good workers and leaves them alone.

(YN, 15OCT08, Durham)

Objectiveness and open-mindedness are requisite “twins” for insights and discoveries.

(YN, 04NOV07, Durham) – On “Success vs. Popularity” (inspired by an article “The forgotten code cracker” [Scientific American297, 26-27, 2007]):

In my humble view, one’s scientific “successfulness” should not be judged in terms of how popular one may turn out to be, but should be evaluated by if one has the vision and insights, and if one has the capability to synthesize vast amount of the data of all sort to better understand how the Earth works on all scales today and in Earth’s history. One must also have the skill to communicate, for which one must have the ability to debate and courage to challenge tradition and authority. I don’t think there is any alternative. Following bandwagons can certainly make one’s “academic” life easier, make oneself more liked and popular, but I consider this is a waste – wasting public resources and wasting one’s life as it makes no advance whatsoever.

(YN, 15OCT03, Houston)

Everyone has the ability to think, but most people don’t have the habit of thinking.

(YN, 15OCT02, Cardiff)

Think big, but never overlook every detail.

(YN, 15OCT01, Brisbane)

A wise man knows his weaknesses.

Michael J. O’Hara     Facts’ have a half-life; so does the ‘Truth’.

Peter J. Wyllie    The history of petrogenesis has been the history of re-interpretations of origins.

Andy H. Niu       “All facts are temporary.” (he admits that this is his children version of what M. J. O’Hara said)

Isaac Newton (1642-1727):

If I have seen further, it is because I have stood upon the shoulders of giants. (5 February 1675).

Isaac Newton (1642-1727):

That gravity should be innate, inherent and essential to matter, so that one body may act upon another at a distance through a vacuum, without the mediation of any thing else, by and through which their action and force may be conveyed from one to another, is to me so great an absurdity that I believe no man who has in philosophical matters a competent faculty of thinking can ever fall into it. (25 February 1692).

Albert Einstein (1879-1955):

Great spirits have always encountered opposition from mediocre minds.  The mediocre mind is incapable of understanding the man who refuses to bow blindly to conventional prejudices and chooses instead to express his opinions courageously and honestly.

If the facts don’t fit the theory, change the facts.

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not one bit simpler.

Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits.  Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.

In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.

Education is the progressive realization of our ignorance.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860):

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.

Thomas H. Huxley (1825 – 1895):

Every great advance in natural knowledge has involved the absolute rejection of authority.

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