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Archive for September, 2010

More blobs of goop

I thought I would share another view of the data I’m analyzing

3D visualization

(more…)

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The rising tide of bigotry.

Recent events in the US have made quite an impression on me. The most recent such event was the proclamation from a pastor in Florida to burn the Koran as a commemoration of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Such proclamations have caused a lot of concern and pleas to stop what can only be considered a savage act of bigotry. I’m adding my voice to such opinions.

Book burning has been practiced by the most retrograde governments in history. During Nazi Germany the book burning was the prelude to much worse atrocities. There is a famous quote from Heinrich Heine: “ Where they burn books they will eventually also burn people”. I fear that if people do not stand up against this, we will see such in the future here as well.

I grow sad that it is now fashionable to show contempt for muslims in this country. The proposed Islamic center in New York has attracted a lot of attention, most of this attention has been in the form of hate speech against muslims. I am for the building of the center.

According to the laws and constitution in this country, religious freedom can not be voted away by the angry rabble. It is right for the US president to stand on the side of the Constitution, much to the chagrin of the Republican opposition.  The rights of individuals to practice their religion and to build their temples on their own property is unassailable. Even if people feel that it is an issue that makes them think and might push a few buttons, they should think and act rationally and use it as a chance for their own enlightenment. They should also above all reflect on why upholding the constitutional view on these issues makes this country what it is today: they shouldn’t surrender their rights for the sake of oppressing others.

The Republican outcry and misinformation campaign about this center is a shameless act of self-serving individuals: they hijacked the issues for political gains. This was predicted by Time magazine with an editorial admonition against the wisdom of such a path. They didn’t listen.

Questioning the nationality of the US president is also popular, as well as suggesting that  his wife forbade Christmas. I don’t usually worry about conspiracies like these. Except when elected politicians on the right,   endorse these opinions by opening the room to doubt  and propagate them for their own benefit.  For some reason this is not attacked as defamation or as libelous statements, even though prominent media figures (see here) use them exactly with malice.

Nowadays 18% of the US population seems to believe that the current president is muslim. I’ve been receiving e-mail that suggest that since 2008. It was not long ago that the president was criticized for attending the sermons of pastor Wright.

But it is not just the US. Germany is now also in the midst of extremist thinking against muslims. And the Netherlands have Geert Wilders spouting his usual extremist talk all the time.

I can not remain silent about this anymore.

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Coloring graphs.

Coloring scheme I.

Coloring scheme II.

At the top you can see two different frames for visualizations of information during different times of a particular simulation. I’m not going to tell you the details of the simulation, nor what the graphs are going to represent (this is still in the ‘top secret’ category: it is work in progress and a lot of stuff can change before we decide to go public with this). In the meantime enjoy the pretty pictures. What I’m trying to figure out is which color scheme looks better. Warning: don’t expect to see graphs like this in any of my papers in the near future.

Here is the deal: coloring schemes produce emotions in the recipient. Different coloring schemes give people different feelings about information. For example, red is usually associated to hot, while blue is associated to cool. However, a blue star is hotter than a red star. The red/blue association is probably due to fire/ice. Fire tends to be reddish, and ice is kind of bluish, but when we see things according to the radiated energy at different frequencies we get a completely different picture.

When presenting scientific information, choices like this one often present themselves. And it makes a difference on how the recipient audiences perceive the quality of the work… or even better: the coolness factor of the work.

The big questions are: what emotions do the above graphs give you? Which one do you like best? Why?

In the end they are conveying sufficiently similar raw information, but though I know this is true, I feel different about it. They have a different artistic feel to them. I just thought I’d share some of these issues and maybe even get some feedback.

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