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Re: JPL Planetary Ephemeris DE405

Hi Francesco,

Francesco Poli <invernomuto@paranoici.org> writes:
>> This finally would mean that you need (almost) the whole scientific
>> (physics) history and discussion as an automated processing chain in
>> Debian.
> If this is what you meant, then I must have misread your reasoning.
> I apologize.
> I think that a work that includes data (such as the electric charge of
> an electron) *can* be in source form, without the need to ship all the
> raw measurements that brought us to the determination of good values for
> these data, or to build-depend on the whole analysis process that
> brought us to that same determination.
> What's good about the definition of source is that it is flexible
> enough to cope with many corner cases.

I see this differently: The term "source" is misleading when applied to
research data. The base of the usual source definition is that sources
are a creative product, and we try to define the real primary writing as
the source.

In science, this is however differently: The (primary) creative work
here are the research articles, and there is a whole culture around how
to value them and how to ensure freedom of science. Much older,
independently and differently from DFSG: Research articles are usually
not free (as in speech, but often also not as in beer), but there is a
freedom to cite and to critizice, modify, and apply the ideas to own

Research data however are *not* a product of a creative scientific
work. They are either "raw data", produced directly by an observation,
or processed data, made by application of the scientific methods. Both
the data taking and the formal application are not creative; and so data
are not a creative work. Therefore it is useless to think in terms of
"source" here.

> In the "scientific data" case, changing the raw measurements and/or the
> analysis process is probably more like taking a new digital photograph
> (perhaps with a different camera, or with different camera settings, or
> with a changed scene), than like modifying the digital photograph with
> some digital "special effect" or "enhancement".

It may be both: there is the case that one may want to process the same
data with an improved method, or that one may want to apply the same
method to other data.

The difference to your example is that taking a photo is usually a
creative act, while taking research data is not. There are corner cases
like astrophotography: Astronomers take images of the sky, which I would
count as "research data": they are just spacially resolved photon
fluxes. Astrophotographers may even take the same image, but they do
creative work (because they do some kind of art). One may even take a
Hubble raw image and create a "beautiful image" out of it (like PR
images as the "Astronomy Picture of the Day" of NASA); that is creative
(and copyrighted). But preprocessing the same raw for a scientific
analysis is not.

If there is some creativity involved in the process of creation, then we
can speak of a source, and require that this source is included in
Debian. But as discussed, for research data there is no source, and we
should find other means to ensure freedom. As the freedom to replace the
data. Which at least requires that the data are documented (otherwise
you can't replace them in a sensitive way).

Best regards


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