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In early January, I attended the combined meeting of the American Astronomical Society and the American Institute of Physics Teachers. This opportunity provided yet another documented example of how two interdependent but separate sciences have drawn closer together as pieces of their respective puzzles continue to shed light on one another. In this case, the common methodology is computational science, in which cross-disciplinary, numerical, and analytic models mediate collaborative problem solving.
A prime example of such collaboration is the elusive neutrino, which was once called "nothing with the opposite spin." The experimental discovery of neutrino oscillations enabled the successful modeling of solar neutrino production and subsequently supported new insights into supernova behavior. Knitted together here, we find elementary particle physics, fusion science, and astrophysics. We typically consider the first and third of these to be in the physics and astronomy domains, respectively, with the second somewhere between the two. Computational science, however, mediated their primary breakthroughs and propagated them into their subsequent successes.
The tale of how these three pieces of research used and benefited from computation would make an interesting narrative. In fact, one of my good fortunes at this meeting was to attend a session at which I began to recognize this thread. I was also lucky enough to gather the three speakers together afterward and obtain their agreement to try to weave this storyline into a future CiSE theme issue. Hopefully, this effort will bear fruit and provide readers with a rewarding experience sometime next year.
We don't need to wait that long, however, to witness computation's unifying power across science and engineering. Look no further than the current issue's principle theme, which deals with quantifying uncertainty in stochastic modeling. Here, we can see how developments in computational modeling theory apply to problems across a wide spectrum of science and engineering.
Because it's still new in CiSE, I also want to remind you that this issue contains the second installment of a second theme: computational science for the International Polar Year. This longitudinal "track" of themed articles is an experiment that addresses two needs. The first is for a mechanism that sustains interest in projects with a fixed duration and place on the calendar—the IPY clearly fits the bill. The second is a need to accommodate a sufficient number of thematic articles in what is becoming an increasingly crowded editorial calendar.
We're limited in the number of pages we can publish in each issue, although we can occasionally exceed this limit, as we did in the January/February 2007 issue and will again do this time. Of course, we're eager to keep the information flowing and hope that you find utility in these pages, but the down side is that this crunch forces us to defer publishing some of our regular departments. We hope that this circumstance doesn't disappoint those of you who turn to them first when you read CiSE.
Of course, the only way we'll know for sure how these editorial decisions affect you is if you tell us. So please, read this issue and "keep those cards and letters coming."
Finally, let me close by urging you to do something that will keep CiSE moving forward. If you find an article especially useful, please consider downloading a copy from our Web site, even if you don't intend to read it electronically. This should be free to you if you have a combined electronic/paper subscription. We get tabulations for downloads of each article, which gives us feedback about reader interest; you'll be voting by clicking. Alternatively, if you or your institution subscribe to the IEEE digital library—IEEE Xplore—then download it from there instead. CiSE gets a share of the digital library fees; you'll be donating by clicking. Hey … it's the digital age!