August 25, 2005

Scientist Trading Cards

Okay, this is cool. A trading card series featuring scientists (and popularizers) such as Einstein, Turing, Watson & Crick, Carl Sagan, Claude Shannon, Marie Curie and many others. The BoingBoing post laments that Tesla wasn't included; I, however, wouldn't mind seeing some Canadian content like David Suzuki, Banting & Best or Donald Coxeter. It seems from AllTooFlat's Cafepress site that the actual card set isn't for sale yet, but that you can buy some other related merch.

A weird little bit I stumbled across reading the Wikipedia entry on Charles Best -- it seems that both he and Banting are buried in the Mount Pleasant Cemetery, just a few blocks south of where I live. You can see the Cemetary using Google Maps, just search on "mount pleasant cemetery toronto."

Libraries for Dummies

Libraries for Dummies is a blog by an anonymous public librarian. What makes it a bit different is that it's all about this librarian's very negative interactions with the public. She skewers everyone -- the rude, the obnoxious, the helpless, the unstable, the clueless -- with a rare glee. Mostly pretty amusing but often a bit cruel, and mostly without much sympathy. We all have war stories about dealing with less than idea patrons, but I like to think most of us have a bit more emphathy. Not that I didn't enjoy the rants, of course. via LibraryStuff.

August 22, 2005

More on "Is Computer Science Science"

Some more interesing links on the eternal question:

Survey of the biblioblogosphere

Over at Information Wants to Be Free, there's a survey of library bloggers mostly asking demographic information. The results should be interesting, though perhaps not as controversial as Walt's survey in the latest Cites & Insights. (And yes, I checked: 63)

August 19, 2005

Silly talk about science

Via InsideHigherEd, a very funny posting from a physicist's strange encounter with his hairdresser. Also lots of comments with other scientists' funny stories.

From the comments, my fave so far (italics mine):

Last year I was on my way back to the US from Canada and passing through US immigration in Toronto. I usually expect to get a few questions and so wasn’t surprised when the immigrations guy asks me what I’m doing in the US. Nor was I surprised when my answer of “I’m a postdoc at Brown University” got a blank(ish) stare either. Then he asks what I was doing in Canada and I tell him that I was visiting the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. He asks what it is I study and I respond “string theory”. Then he says: “Do you study string theory or 11-dimensional M-theory? Do you know about black holes? Do they have entropy?”. I pick my jaw off the floor and answer him. To his satisfaction I guess cos he then responds (after seeing a bit of a line forming behind me): “Ok, I want to talk some more about physics so I’m going to look at your passport and the computer screen and you just look a little worried for a bit.”

Anyway, turns out that the guy used to be a librarian in the physics department of some university before joining immigration.

An aside to Christina, yes, I often get the same shocked/puzzled look when I tell people I have a B. Computer Science. There's gotta be a lot of mileage in a silly talk about librarianship thread.

August 18, 2005

Science & Religion

Ever have one of those conversations, where the other person really just wants you to believe that science is just another faith-based belief system, just like religion? Yeah, me too. Over at Kuro5hin there's an interesting little bit on how to approach that kind of discussion. The comments are fun too. The science category has a lot of iteresting posts with lively discussion.

August 17, 2005

New CS/E-related stuff

A bunch of recent items, mostly via InsideHigherEd, Computing Chris or one via John White of ACM.

August 16, 2005

A History of Computer Chess

It appears that the Computer History Museum will be mounting an exhibit on the history of computer chess in September. Check out this preview at the Chessbase site.

I'm back...and musings on computational paleontology

Yesterday I returned to work after four weeks of vacation, feeling rested and ready to tackle a long backlog of work & posting. The travel part of my vacation included eight days in New York City and six days in Montreal. The Montreal part was mostly family & friends oriented and included no science-related activities. The New York part included a whole day at the American Museum of Natural History, which was spectacular. The feature exhibit was Dinosaurs: Ancient Fossils, New Discoveries which was the highlight for me. My sons' highlights were the Hall of Human Biology and Evolution and the giant whale model.

The dinosaur exhibit was very interesting for me -- the main thrust was that a lot of the cutting edge dinosaur research is actually combining information from fossils with biomechanical computer models to try and figure out how dinos moved around. It got me thinking, is there a new field of computational paleontology? Well, I googled it and got 864 hits. Not sure if that's a big number or a small number, over the last couple of days I googled a whole bunch of other computational this or thats to see what the lay of the land is, to be able to compare one computerized field to another. Below I share my results. All were googled as phrases, i.e. "computational mathematics." The first bunch are obviously scitech fields, for comparason. I also googled a bunch of humanities & social science fields to see if they are being invaded by geeks and nerds.

Paleontology: 864
Mathematics: 258,000
Geometry: 635,000
Statistics: 112,000
Physics: 466,000
Biology 1,190,000
Molecular biology: 91,800
Chemistry: 521,000
Fluid mechanics: 25,200
Fluid dynamics: 556,000
Logic: 128,000
Geosciences: 11,500
Materials (science): 84,100/63,100
Mechanics: 195,000
Biomechanics: 5,190
Electronics: 11,800
Neuroscience: 167,000
Astronomy: 881,000
Engineering: 115,000
Science: 666,000

Economics: 110,000
Linguistics: 688,000
Management science: 5,780
Psychology: 8,380
Sociology: 3,590
Anthroplogy: 1,040
Philosophy: 5,110
History: 438
Religion: 13
Law: 71
Political science: 14
Social science(s): 848/303
Humanities: 188

Bioinformatics: 19,100,000
numerical analysis: 1,910,000

Of course, some things are obvious. The research in most all scitech fields is more and more being done with computers, be it biology or physics. Computer modeling of scientific problems is becoming the norm. It's also not hard to see that the hottest of the hot is biology/bioinformatics. I googled just bioinformatics (not computational bioinformatics) to give a baseline and it got more hits than all the rest put together, no doubt due to the commercial opportunities in genetic research. I also googled numerical analysis to get a sense of the size of that for comparason to the math-related fields. Interesting that NA was 10% of bioinformatics, no doubt due as much to the flakiness of the google counts at those high numbers as anything else.

It was also interesting to see that some humanities/social science disciplines are seeing computational creep and that some, apparently, aren't.