Thursday Links: Fourier transforms, paleontology blogs, evolutionary tempo, adorable kittens

Author: Brianna

AKA, “Stuff I’ve read lately that is cool and/or still in an open browser tab.” Some are new, some are (very) old.

The math trick behind MP3s, JPEGs, and Homer Simpson’s Face, from Nautilus Magazine.
An article about how Fourier transforms are totally awesome. As a side note, I feel like Nautilus should replace IFLS on everyone’s Facebook feed. Plenty of “OMG science is AMAZING!” to go around, but without the factual mistakes and lack of attribution.

Why “unqualified personnel” is not a reasonable excuse for limited research at a PUI, from The Liberal Arts Ecologists.
About recruiting, expectations, results, and philosophies behind working with undergrads in a research context. As I noted on twitter, if it weren’t for my advisors being willing to invest in undergraduates as serious researchers – at an R1 university, not just a primarily undergrad institution – I wouldn’t be where I am today.

In defence of basic research, from Stuart Auld.
An interesting (first!) blog post about answering “What do you research?” when the answer is about basic science. I like this approach. When friends, family, and new acquaintances ask me what I work on, I’m not shy about relating my work to potential human benefits. But almost invariably I also flat-out state that some of my work is basic research. I then explain why basic research is important on several levels. Usually they don’t get too glazed-eyed about this, if I’m succinct.

K.Jones the Bones, a new blog about paleobiology!
And she has a recent post about morphometrics. Be still my heart! Don’t miss the descriptions of collections research in her first post. I too have some very fond memories of time spent in various collections, both paleontological and modern – mostly the Condon Fossil Collections at the University of Oregon, the Museums of Vertebrate Zoology and Paleontology at Berkeley, and most recently the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard. All kinds of smells, good and bad; the shadowy mounted heads of horned ruminants staring you down as you walk down the aisles before the motion-sensor lights turn on; the slight delirium that sets in after about 8 hours straight of measuring bones…

Don’t be a Nattering Nabob, from State Factors.
In other words, take the time to focus on what’s cool about the science before hunting for ways to rip it to shreds (and in general, don’t be a jerk). As a firm believer in the “constructive” part of constructive criticism, I really enjoyed this post. You don’t have to drop rigor to drop negative approaches.

In praise of exploratory statistics, from Dynamic Ecology.
Some nice love for mucking around in the data. Just don’t pretend you’re hypothesis testing. Brian McGill’s proposed solution: educate people better about exploratory stats, stop treating that approach “like the crazy uncle nobody wants to talk about and everybody is embarrassed to admit being related to,” and help people realize that a paper written without a hypothetico-deductive approach is okay.
Don’t forget to check out the comments section. I always love the comments on Dynamic Ecology.

I want one of these Form1 3D printers. I could have so much fun (and maybe do some Science!) with it. Anyone have a spare ~$4k they feel like spending on me?

Some pages from a beautiful comic book illustration, by Julian Peters, of the (also beautiful) T.S. Eliot poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.”

Graham Slater’s excellent talk from SVP is up on SlideShare: “Tempo or Mode in Evolution? The Case of Mammalian Body Size Evolution.” Comes complete with a discussion of adaptive zones a la Simpson that I particularly appreciated, having read that paper in depth earlier this year. Also illustrations that I think make the narrative mostly clear even without, well, narration.

A brief, useful post on momentum and side projects: “Picking Up Where You Left Off.”
I have been bitten before by letting research projects sit too long. In response, I started taking much better research notes that end with a list of next steps. Also, I began writing down the name, contents, and purpose of any new file. (That came about after spending a couple hours untangling “measurements.xlsx” from “camelmeasures.csv” and “updated-measures.csv” and…)

And finally, these kittens just about made me explode with cute overload. Sorry, curmudgeons of the internet. I can’t help it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s