The Story of the MRES Book, Editions 1–5

Shortly after this blog went online, I wrote down a short history of the MRES book. Here is an update, just before the 5th edition is published. The book has become heavy, it has twice the number of pages as the first edition!

I wrote a full year on the first edition, despite the small number of only 237 pages. Since then, the number of pages has steadily increased, the 5th edition will probably have more than 470 pages. Nevertheless I worked on it again for a while. Now I’m writing a third book, so another update of MRES will have to wait a while.

What has happened after the publication of the 1st Edition? And compared to my short history of the book published in February 2017? Of course I have grown older, got a family and have less time to write books. You can clearly see when I got a family from my Publons metrics. On the other hand, I become more relaxed. When I look at the review by Thomas A. Jones in the journal Computers & Geosciences today – and put the 1st edition of MRES next to it – I think he was largely right. But of course it wasn’t fair, considering it was my first book and I spent a whole year writing it! The fact that the book took first place in Springer’s bestseller list of 1,500 books in earth and environmental sciences right after its publication helped a lot to get over the pain.

MATLAB has changed, has become more diverse, but the competition from Python and more recently Julia has become stronger. Especially younger colleagues prefer Python, which has reduced the number of participants in my compact course from 30 to currently 15. As these people grow older, they may appreciate the professional support they get from MathWorks. Then time, not money, will be the limiting factor in their work. When I tried to install Python some time ago, I failed at the installation. Two weeks ago I installed Julia and couldn’t use the simple mean function to calculate a mean value – things I’m never get with from MATLAB. How will this continue, will MATLAB disappear in the earth sciences and Python/Julia will take over just because they are free? I hope that will happen after I retire!

But what is clearly noticeable is the increasing demand on young geoscientists to use quantitative methods. This is of course a positive development, but it also presents the young scientists with the challenge of acquiring solid knowledge in the use of statistical and numerical methods, in addition to complicated methods of data acquisition, as well as higher programming languages such as MATLAB, Python or Julia. Here in Potsdam we try to convey this in our master courses in Earth Sciences and Remote Sensing, in addition to the compact courses in spring, which I hope will soon have more participants.