An obsession with numbers: quantifying quality

N. Sathyamurthy of the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Mohali, writes:

Numbers are unavoidable in a society. For its smooth functioning, a society maintains the birth and death records of its citizens and a variety of other things. Richard Feynman, an outstanding physicist, declared long ago that he did not have to remember numbers because he could always look them up. However, he admitted that he did remember the velocity of light, Planck’s constant and a few other important numbers. The society as a whole has changed a lot in the last few decades: people remember numbers less, but deal with numbers more.

While numbers may help in assessing incremental contributions to science, an assessment of disruptive progress calls for measures that go beyond numbers.

Read the editorial in Current Science