Games will help Science save the Universe

November 26, 2008 at 9:37 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )

PROTEIN!!!!

PROTEIN!!!!

I work in games for a living, but I just read a really great article in New Scientist about games which are being used in several different fields of research to take advantage of our human intuition.  Even with all the increased power of computing power and distributed processing, there are several places where computers fall flat, including visual analysis and spatial tasks.

There were several games listed in the article but the most interesting is http://www.fold.it.  In this game you fold proteins which involves a hosts of problems to be solved in Biology.  Here’s what they say on the site :

Figuring out which of the many, many possible structures is the best one is regarded as one of the hardest problems in biology today and current methods take a lot of money and time, even for computers. Foldit attempts to predict the structure of a protein by taking advantage of humans’ puzzle-solving intuitions and having people play competitively to fold the best proteins.

So if you want to play some games during the holiday season, try this one out so that you can save the universe with science instead of a chainsaw gun.

This game was even mentioned by Richard Dawkins Foundation.  You can follow this link and join his group, but if you really want to be on the team that will win all of science, join me here.

Advertisements

Permalink Leave a Comment

El Aleph – Borges and the infinite

November 23, 2008 at 2:05 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

I just got done reading “El Aleph” a collection of short stories from Jorge Luis Borges.  I am obsessed with the infinite.  It scares me to death and it also captivates me, so each of these stories is one aspect of the infinite.

I haven’t written a book review in another language since French 4620 so I decided to write this one on GoodReads in Spanish.  If any Spanish speakers out there could correct me in any way or help me further the discussion, I would really appreciate it!

Here’s what I wrote :

————————————————–

No conozco otro escritor como Borges que puede comunicar tales historias del infinito.  Como acabo de leer hace muy poco “Godel Escher Bach” de Hofstadter, no puedo evitar pensar en la idea de los “bucles extranos”.  Hofstadter usa la idea de un bucle como una propriedad de nuestro mente humano o otramente dicho lo que es nuestra conciencia. Me encantan estas historias de Borges que examinan lo que pasa a un ser humano cuando se encuentra con el infinito.

Borges comunica bien la idea de lo que podria pasar a una persona que ve en infinito en un instante.  La historia “El Aleph” tiene muchos ejemplos de los bucles que capturan el mente luego de observar “todos los lugares del orbe, vistos desde todos los angulos.”  Despues de observar estas cosas (o pues, quizas esta cosa… singular) se queda mi version del infierno.  Yo mismo temo el infinito entonces este parte resona conmigo :
“En la calle, en las escaleras de Constitucion, en el subterraneo, me parecieron familiares todas las caras.  Temi que no quedera una sola cosa capaz de sorprenderme, temi que no me abandonara jamas la impresion de volver.”

Una vida sin sorpresa, ya todo visto, eso es una existencia que no puedo y no quiero imaginar.  Para mi, es interesante que nuestra propriedad mental de la recursion es lo que nos separa de los otros animales es tambien lo que podria ser nuestro carcel mental.

Tambien aprecio mucho las connexiones que existen adentro de las historias en la collecion de “El Aleph” y tambien con los otros libros de Borges.  Hay muchos ejemplos de bucles adentro del libro.  Per ejemplo, en “Busca de Averroes”, Borges cuenta la dificuldad de imaginar la historia de Averroes : “para redactar esa narracion, yo tuve que ser aquel hombre y que, para ser aquel hombre, to tuve que redactar esa narracion, y asi hasta lo infinito.”  Igualamente en la historia “El Aleph”, tenemos otro bucle infinito : “vi el Aleph, desde todos los puntos, vi en el Aleph la tierra, y en la tierra otra vez el Aleph, y en el Aleph la tierra.”

Otra connexion que me gusta es la idea que el Aleph es como una puerta a todo escrito posible.  De una manera, esto funciona como un tipo de “biblioteca de Babel”.  De nuevo, podemos seguir este bucle a otros escritos de Borges.  Es increible las relaciones entre los libros de Borges.  Me parece que luego de este Aleph, necesito leer nuevamente my primer libro de Borges, “El libro de arena”

Permalink 2 Comments

Ignite Salt Lake

November 15, 2008 at 11:31 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

Thursday night was the first night of IGNITE in Salt Lake City.  Anyone who didn’t make it should definitely consider coming next time (Spring 09) either to watch the presentations or give one themselves.

I was mainly there to hear Jared speak about the work that we did along with several other people on the Jellyfish12000.

But there were many other great presentations that lit my mind on fire.  It was great to hear from Adam Price who put together the 337 project. Check it out at http://www.337project.org/.  Anyone who missed this house transformed into a complete work of art in Salt Lake City missed out.  It was covered with graffiti and filled with interactive installations which reminded me of great interactive art I enjoyed at Le Palais de Tokyo in Paris.

Finally there was a last minute presentation from Jason Alderman who did a talk about Processing which reminded me that after months of looking at other people’s creations in Processing that I should finally make my own.  So I ran home and made the LeafMonster creation you see in the post below this one.

So to learn more about Ignite Salt Lake and get involved, go to http://www.ignitesaltlake.com/.  You can see the presentations given last Thursday and you can get an idea for how it works.  Then give a presentation of your own.  If I can think of anything worthwhile I do I might do it myself, but so far I’m drawing a blank.

Permalink Leave a Comment

Leaf Monster – My first Processing monster

November 15, 2008 at 6:20 am (Uncategorized) (, , )

I just created my first Processing sketch for a gallery of “monsters” as a creative exercise in creating programmatic monsters.  The opening up of this gallery to any developers was the great idea of Lukas Vojir to create some kind of creature in black and white with some kind of interaction with the mouse.

You can see my LeafMonster here at http://rmx.cz/monsters/.

Leaf Monster

Leaf Monster

I would love to see more people using the Processing language \ environment.  It’s really easy to learn and it’s a lot of fun.  Learn more about it here at http://www.processing.org/.

To see some other amazing things that people have built, check out sites like these.  There are some brilliant people out there doing some beautiful things with this language :

http://www.complexification.net/

http://www.flight404.com/blog/

If anyone has any questions about using Processing, please send me an email!

Permalink Leave a Comment