Dispatches

I wish I knew then what I know now (reproducible methods are awesome!)

I started working in computational research with no meaningful experience. I spent two years in high school “programming” in C++ on a Windows 98 machine with an IDE that made the programs run (sometimes) through what must have been magic. The past five years have been a constant refinement of ...

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Pitfalls of giving talks at seminars and conferences Part I

Bad talks are inflicted upon us all too often at seminars and conferences. You get up early in the morning, feel an excitement about the day’s talks, walk into the room upbeat, and are frustrated by an unprepared, incoherent, and boring lecture. One essential part of research that is often ...

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Speed up your Python & Numpy codes

If you run short simulations, you may tell yourself that you don’t need faster code because it only takes a few of seconds or up to a couple of minutes and you don’t want to “waste” your time learning non interesting coding tricks. However, my experience tells me than good programming habits are easier to learn than bad ones, they decrease the probability of having bugs in your code, and you’ll have a clearer and better organized result.

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Historians have a tough job, give them a little slack

Not every discipline has the luxury of being able to bootstrap random iterations to test the significance of their argument

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Fake mathematics is amazing

How the apparently preposterous act of ignoring infinite values can sometimes lead to wondrous results.

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Annoying things about conferences (Part II)

There is something about big faceless crowds that always feels intimidating, hostile, even if we know it is not real, and make us act accordingly. Scientist and fourth-graders alike.

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Patrick McMullen appointed Senior Scientist by The Hamner Institutes

Dr. Patrick McMullen and alumnus of the Amaral lab has been appointed as a Senior Scientist by The Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences . McMullen is “mapping the mechanisms that translate a cellular input into a specific response”, with a focus on toxicity pathways.

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Being in a great lab as part of a college experience

As an undergraduate student, I have never envisioned joining a lab and doing research a year ago, but now (as you can see)––

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Daniel Stouffer receives Rutherford Discovery Fellowship

Dr. Daniel Stouffer, currently a Senior Lecturer at the School of Biological Sciences at University of Canterbury, and an alumnus of the Amaral lab was awarded a prestigious Rutherford Discovery Fellowship by the Royal Society of New Zealand. The NZ$800,000 fellowship will fund Stouffer’s research for the next five years. ...

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Luis Nunes Amaral's world of networks

Read Amaral’s AAAS Member Spotlight by Delia O’Hara .

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Stand up and make a retraction

A Nature paper from 2005 that reported a connection between body symmetry and dancing ability was recently retracted. Whatever for? I Investigate.

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Corporations are people, but some people are psychotic

Communicating with a distant friend twenty years ago meant that I would have to send a hastily composed letter or, gasp, ask my parents if I could call long-distance. E-mail and the internet weren’t pervasive and there were no apps that would alert me to how influential I was on ...

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Why papers are like superhero movies

When you write a paper, you are thinking about science. When you watch a superhero movie, you are being entertained. A paper and a superhero movie appear entirely unrelated to each other. People rarely realize the similarities between them.

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Amaral elected Fellow of American Physical Society

Luis Amaral has been elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society “for seminal advances in the characterization and modeling of complex systems, especially for the proposal and development of cartographic methods for the representation of large complex networks.”

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The human side of science

The human side of science I’m not sure how we, as humans, ended up doing science, as we don’t strictly need it for surviving on Earth. But, the search for truth, which surely drives all scientists in the world, has little to do with their personal life. Anecdote #1The oil ...

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Negative results are boring

A few weeks ago, The Economist ran an interesting series of articles chronicling “How science goes wrong.” While most of their points were – or should be – painfully obvious to academics, seeing it in writing has its merits, and helping to educate the general public on some of these ...

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The Lunar Standard Time

A calendar for people on the moon. Because you never know when lunar colonization is going to take off. Better safe than sorry!

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Annoying things about conferences (Part I)

I am not gonna discuss those big shots getting drunk and holding court. Whether they qualify as annoying or not, I guess it depends on the particular drunk.

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The Messy Art of Teaching

Teaching is more than just presenting material and giving periodic exams. To truly transmit information to students, you have to be able to recognize how to best communicate with them, and sometimes that involves a little bit of guesswork!

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Confirmation bias and proof by example: Why people think the Moon always appears at night (while it doesn’t)

Xiaohan Zeng, Andrea LancichinettiEdited by Nick Timkovich For thousands of years, people thought that the Sun and the Moon were opposites: the Sun governs the day, and the Moon dominates the night. Surprisingly, this observation is common across many cultures. In Greek mythology, Apollo, the god of the Sun, and ...

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