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    Preface to the Special Issue: Experimental and Computational Methods for Electrochemical Interface and Reactions
  • “Some mathematicians are birds, others are frogs.” This is the opening of a famous article written by Freeman Dyson (Dyson, Freeman. “Birds and frogs.” Notices of the AMS 56.2 (2009): 212-223). He continues: “Birds fly high in the air and survey broad vistas of mathematics out to the far horizon.” and “Frogs live in the mud below and see only the flowers that grow nearby.” Hilbert, who listed twenty-three outstanding unsolved problems that shape the course of mathematics in the past century, is a prototypical bird. Yitang Zhang, who targets horrendously difficult problems and recently made a decisive step to prove the Twin Prime Conjecture, is an exemplary frog.

    This metaphor also applies to electrochemistry, an important research field that is both broad and deep. John O’M. Bockris is an electrochemical bird, who was vigorously engaged in writing/editing comprehensive textbooks of electrochemistry that have influenced generations of electrochemists. Wolfgang Schmickler, Richard Compton, and Juan Feliu are electrochemical frogs, who delight in solving one problem at a time using particular tools that they know very well and collecting beautiful flowers when traveling in unexplored territories.

    As Dyson pointed out, it is inappropriate to say that birds are superior to frogs because they see farther, or frogs are superior to birds because they see deeper. A healthy research field needs both birds and frogs. It is tempting to think that the hybrid of birds and frogs is most beneficial to the development of a research field. However, there is no guarantee that the resultant hybrid delights in in-depth thinking and has broad vision. The hybrid may go in the unintended direction that cannot fly high enough to see the broad vistas and is reluctant to live under the ground. In the latter scenario, the research community will be full of undesirable buzzing noise.

    As we all know, the current paradigm of electrochemical research favors combining as many different tools as possible, maximizing the impact of a finding to societal needs as much as possible, and raising new concepts unifying different research activities as broad as possible. The original intention is to grasp the whole picture, to arouse public consciousness, and to unify our thinking. However, it may end in an unexpected way: the obtained picture is loose as none of the tools is appropriately and adequately implemented, the claims are over-exaggerated, and the concepts are unsubstantial.

    Currently, the research atmosphere is unfriendly to frogs that delight in solving one problem at a time using a particular tool. Their publications are less read, and resources less granted. Consequently, there is growing consensus to encourage and cultivate more frogs for the sake of the health and sustainability of electrochemistry. In an effort in this direction, the Chinese Society of Electrochemistry supported a series of tutorial sections in a national meeting of the society. Moreover, Xiamen University has successively held summer schools with specific topics as themes. Bearing the same belief in mind, the Chinese Journal of Electrochemistry arranges this topical issue, contributed by frogs in this field, as a joint force in parallel with existing measures.

    Electrochemistry needs birds.

    Electrochemistry also needs frogs.

    But, electrochemistry needs more frogs than birds.


    Title: Encouraging More Frogs in Electrochemistry

    The contents of special issue: http://electrochem.xmu.edu.cn/EN/volumn/volumn_1253.shtml

  • Pubdate: 2020-01-31    Viewed: 699