Saturday, 31 January 2009

First step

The first step in the direction described a few days ago has been done. Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation vol. 12, no. 1, 2009 has published a forum article Modelling Opinion Formation with Physics Tools: Call for Closer Link with Reality, without any reference to my affiliation (none) or credentials other than the text itself.

Of course, it is not an original research paper, but a review and discussion one, so the criteria are lighter. And JASSS is a specialized, electronic-version only journal, not on the higherst top of the citation index. But at least one myth is busted: it is possible for an outsider to comment and be heard within academic world proper.

Hooray for the amateurs.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Amateur scientist

Writing Country of Blindfolded I gradually came to the idea of re-creating amateur science as a honourable pasttime, jjust as fascinating as flower arrangement, speed racing or computer games. Of course it is not for everyone (I mean speed racing).

Following some posts and letters I have decided to check if the idea is doable. It is not the same thing to post some papers on the arXiv, where there is no peer review as to decide to publish in a proper journal. To run the gauntlet with no proper affiliation attached to the author's name.

So, for the past few months, my evenings were filled with working on a couple of papers - this is the reason for the lack of posts here. The first part of the experiment comes near the end, the second should be finished in a few months.

We shall see, if indeed it is possible, with enough persistance, to enter the ivory tower via kitchen entrance.

Friday, 2 January 2009

Science of magic

... or to be more exact, of conjuring. Very interesting window on the capabilities and mis-capabilities of human brain.

Two recent articles:
Macknik, S.; Randi, J.; Robbins, A.; Thompson, J. & Martinez-Conde, S. Attention and awareness in stage magic: turning tricks into research Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 2008, 9, 871,

Kuhn, G.; Amlani, A. A. & Rensink, R. A. Towards a science of magic Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Elsevier, 2008, 12, 349

There are also reviews in december issues of NewScientist and Scientific Amarican, but the access to these is restricted.

An excellent tool

During the Christmas free time I have discovered a great tool: a personal wiki application that allows to gather snippets (and more) of information from many sources.
The application is called wikidPad,and is available from sourceforge: .

To quote the description:
wikidPad is a real-time wiki
wikidPad is not a web server, or application server, or groupware solution. wikidPad is a standalone notepad like application, albeit notepad on steroids. wikidPad is like an IDE for your thoughts.

IDE for your thoughts
Software developers have grown accustomed to certain features from their integrated development environment that make their jobs easier. Features like auto-completion, outline views, incremental search, easy source code navigation. IDE's that provide these features can greatly increase developer productivity. wikidPad attempts to utilize some of these features to address the problem of personal information management.

Personal Information Management
How do you manage all of the random bits of information in your personal and professional life? Word documents, text files, Microsoft Outlook folders/notes. If you're an expert user maybe you have a weblog, or a personal database, or possibly an outlining application. Where do you track your wifes favorite food, your bosses kids names, your personal todo list, the name of the movie you just read a review of, the name of the book a friend recommended. wikidPad was created to address this issue of personal information management. It provides a place to manage the massive amounts of information you have stuffed in your head, on stickies, or on your computer.

A great help in organising my notes and thoughts. Highly recommended!