The Blogosphere

December 27, 2010

Although this blog is written as a conversation between you and me, it is of course embedded in a larger social and literary milieu.  As such, I thought I’d take a few lines to respond to the community, if that is alright.

  • On my Antarctica post, Anand was essentially suggesting a deeper empirical basis for mechanism design and synthetic biology.  I think the growth of “big data” will lead to that, but it will require more than analytics that are just data visualization tools.
  • Notwithstanding, a new reader of this blog pointed me to Information Is Beautiful, which is really very insightful.  And speaking of beautiful imagery in science, let me promote the book Portraits of the Mind: Visualizing the Brain from Antiquity to the 21st Century, which also features an image from my recently accepted paper on the C. elegans connectome.
  • On the Antarctica post, a long-time friend of the blog, let us call him Davy Jones, was arguing that the distinction between risk and uncertainty may be crucial in trying to understand the degree to which discovery based on localized models, e.g. inside laboratories, can be meaningful in an unpredictable world, pointing out an article about scientific refutation.
  • Davy was also saying that maybe quantum entanglement is my ticket to Antarctica.  Although I am very much interested in how measurement affects classical systems (watch out for more later), I am scared of bras and things like that.
  • I was in Palo Alto for the COCOA2010 Workshop a few weeks ago, where I was presenting a position paper on taking stochastic approaches to understand coordination of distributed work in global service delivery.  While in California I saw another friend of the blog; let us call him SuperGrover.  SuperGrover was suggesting that blogs are better read when they are less philosophical and have a straightforward nugget.  I’ll see if I take that advice into account.
  • Murali, who apparently likes to think of new technologies in terms of old, delurks and asks how I make reading decisions.  Unfortunately there is no particular method to my madness.  Tangentially relevant to this blog, I have some general areas that I am interested in including the history of science, the biological sciences, and the cognitive/economic sciences  and so I pick things from there.  For the particular case of The Shape of Life, I was at the National Aquarium in Baltimore during ACC2010 and was thinking about whether the functionality-wiring tradeoff I presented there informs the gross anatomical shape of animals, since shapes like these do kind of look like animals: shapes Hence I picked up that book.  I didn’t actually follow up on the motivating question, though.  Interestingly, the eight major animal body plans in existence today, along with 27 minor ones all emerged during the Cambrian Explosion and no new ones have since developed.  If someone followed up on this or already has and tells me, I would be appreciative.

That is all for now.  Hopefully I responded to the crowd sufficiently.


  1. […] Ashvins The Ultimate Machinists « The Blogosphere Listening to the Crowd January 14, 2011 ¡Olé Señor Ole Einar Bjørndalen!  It was sad […]

  2. […] Sorry about lacking on the return dialogue for the last few months.  A one-way dialogue is not a conversation by any stretch of the imagination and it doesn’t help with shaping our sciences. […]

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