Archive for the ‘Academia and Research’ Category

What Makes A Car Work?

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

There are, of course, many different things to tackle when discussing how a car works. I’ve been somewhat fascinated of this topic since I can remember. One summer during high-school I took my time and went through two vehicle mechanics and engineering books just for fun. Sadly, I never got around to developing all the real-world skills needed to repair a car, but I’d say I’m good with the basics.

As I already started posting videos about how various vehicle systems work (e.g. ABS/ESP), I thought it would be about time that I continue with a couple of new gems I’ve found. Here’s a nice (but rather old) clip with the Bose active suspensions:

Of course, if I mention suspensions, I need to mention Citroen. See my previous post on the topic here.

But suspensions alone don’t mean comfort and control. There’s a dynamic interplay between chassis, wheels, suspensions, aerodynamics, and many more. Here’s a sneak peek:

Finally, if we talked about corners in the previous video, I would like to go a bit deeper. The following clip is a very nice and clear explanation of what a differential is and why cars need it:

Everything Is An Adventure, Especially Learning

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

I strongly believe that science is one of the powerful generators that keep our societies running in these last, technology-influenced centuries. However, so many it is unclear why science is important and why it should be funded and sustained? But it seems that the core question focuses on what science is and how it can be defined? I guess Carl Sagan states in the clearest way possible: “We live in a society absolutely dependent on science and technology and yet have cleverly arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. That’s a clear prescription for disaster.”

The following clips include talks and discussions from some of the world’s greatest scientists, who have—among others—made it their mission to spread science literacy and to highlight why and how scientific progress can make a change and improve our lives.

For this first set of talks, I think the words from the video description capture the essence of the event best: “The Origins Project at ASU presents the final night in the Origins Stories weekend, focusing on the science of storytelling and the storytelling of science. The Storytelling of Science features a panel of esteemed scientists, public intellectuals, and award-winning writers including well-known science educator Bill Nye, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, theoretical physicist Brian Greene, Science Friday’s Ira Flatow, popular science fiction writer Neal Stephenson, executive director of the World Science Festival Tracy Day, and Origins Project director Lawrence Krauss as they discuss the stories behind cutting edge science from the origin of the universe to a discussion of exciting technologies that will change our future. They demonstrate how to convey the excitement of science and the importance helping promote a public understanding of science.”

There are quite a few take-home messages in the previous videos, be it about space, physics, life, diversity or simply science. But I guess there were more or less two main ideas that got stuck in my mind. The first one—which I knew before, but which seems to require constant reminders in order to allow it to sink in properly—is that science is not about certainties, but rather about curiosity. Or, as Carl Sagan said it, science is “a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge”. And secondly, one should not jump to discarding any scientific discovery, be it fully theoretical or somehow supported by practical experiments. You can never know how a finding will later create a “gravitational field” around it and capture some other scientist’s idea in its spell, thus deterring the new idea from its initial course into something useful that no one could have predicted.

But let us not stop here. The following couple of clips feature Dr. Tyson at his best, either highlighting the process of scientific discovery, or arguing for the support of (all) sciences that would affect our society, productivity and lives in multiple positive way:

Here’s the clip mentioned in the previous video, clip that includes Neil deGrasse Tysons words about what he considers the most astonishing fact in the universe:

What Is Neuroscience Up To?

Friday, May 24th, 2013

A sleek brief overview of the recent advances in the field of neuroscience — detecting and understanding brain activity:

In Love With Mathematics

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

Here’s a nice documentary about the evolution of mathematics through the ages, with a focus on mathematical problems. I like to call these “the ultimate puzzle”.

PISA Talks About Factors For Improving Education

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

Find more details here.

Few PhDs That Want To Become Professors Ever Make It

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

Whenever I hear the word statistics, I’m reminded of the quote: “Statistics mean nothing to the individual.” You are either in one group, or another. If 0.000001% of people playing in the lottery actually win, this doesn’t make you 0.000001% richer. You either win, or lose.

However, I certainly do see the power of statistics as a guiding force. And keeping this in mind, I found the following information about how many PhDs actually end up receiving tenure (if they decide to go down the academic path) very interesting.

Do you think this is relevant? Should people consider this when making their decision between industry and academics? Or should they simply follow their dreams, irrespectively?

Advances In Neuroscience And BCIs

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

Impressive presentation about how modern BCI technology can already allow a monkey to control a robotic arm or a virtual avatar.

Optimizing A City With IBM Technology

Friday, January 18th, 2013

What if the entire public transportation of a city could be optimized to minimize costs and waiting times. Well, IBM is working on this with a project that gathers data (including anonymous cell phone tracking) to simply chart and predict the movement of the cities population during the day.

Can’t wait to hear/see more of this!

Neil deGrasse Tyson Meets Star Trek

Monday, November 26th, 2012

Well this is cool: Neil deGrasse Tyson interviews Star Trek TNG actors LeVar Burton and Brent Spiner at Comicon 2012.

Seeing Light Move

Sunday, November 25th, 2012