Query and Curiosity – Scientific Data Exploration

Thursday, August 27, during the poster session at HLF15 I strolled around. As I am not a computer scientist or mathematician I honestly had problems in getting an idea, what most of these posters where about. But one, by Abdul Wasay, a second year PhD student at Harvard University, caught my attention. Just by looking at the poster I got an idea, what Queriosity means and who might benefit from it. It appeared to be a software for scientists, helping them... Read more


#MySciBlog Part 2 – A huge survey of science blog readers

  What’s more exciting than writing up 200 pages of results from over 50 interviews and over 600 survey responses from science bloggers about their practices? Following up with some of those bloggers to see what their READERS think! Based on my dissertation last year on the practices and routines of science bloggers, I’m starting another project as a postdoctoral researcher at LSU to survey science blog readers. We know relatively little, at least from a rigorous research perspective, about who... Read more


Stepping Off the “Innovation” Bandwagon

Rosalind Reid, guest blogger at HLF15: I believe I’ve heard the word “innovation” spoken only once during the 2015 Heidelberg Laureate Forum. For an event that gathers together the inventors of today’s computing and the inventors of tomorrow’s, this is remarkable—and refreshing. Here at HLF, the pressures of the marketplace—where glib terms like “innovation” dominate—feel fairly distant. Most of the laureates attending this year are winners of the Association for Computing Machinery’s Turing Award, and many Turing winners have done... Read more


Women in Computer Science 2/2: Changing the culture

This is the story of how the School of Computer Science (SCS) at Carnegie Mellon University went from few female students before 1995, many of which later transferred out of the course, to 40% female students by the early 2000s, almost all of which finished with a degree. I report events as told to me be Lenore Blum, one of the participants of this year's HLF, who was instrumental in initiating a number of the changes that led to the improvement.... Read more


Birdbooker Report 388

SUMMARY: Books, books, beautiful books! This is a list of biology, ecology, environment, natural history and animal books that are (or will soon be) available to occupy your bookshelves and your thoughts. “Words in leather and wood”. Bookshelves in the “Long Room” at the old Trinity College Library in Dublin. Image: Nic McPhee from Morris, MN, USA. 2007. (Creative Commons.) Books to the ceiling, Books to the sky, My pile of books is a mile high. How I love them!... Read more


A Life Well Lived

The dénouement that was inevitable came to pass. I woke up yesterday to the sorrowful news that Professor Sacks, the neurologist and author extraordinaire, had passed away at the age of 82. Of the two obituaries in two leading dailies that I read one after the other, the NY Times Obit seemed more of a commemoration of his life's outstanding work, whereas the Guardian Obit seemed (to me) a celebration of his amazing life, but both were moving in their descriptions... Read more


Remembering Passwords like a Pro – Interview with Jeremiah Blocki

Andrew Carmichael, guest blogger at HLF15: Jeremiah Blocki is a Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Computer Science Department at Carnegie Mellon University. Jeremiah completed his PhD at Carnegie Mellon University focusing on Usable and Secure Human Authentication. Jeremiah is continuing his research in this field, developing usable authentication systems for humans. Andrew Carmichael: Tell us a little about yourself. Jeremiah Blocki: I'm a computer scientist. I did my undergrad at Carnegie Mellon University where I worked with Manuel Blum. I loved... Read more


Sir Antony Hoare — Theory and Practice

As with my interview with John Hopcroft, I was most interested in what Sir Antony Hoare had to say about computer science education. He was, after all, knighted for his work in education in addition to research. I was also particularly fascinated with his effort to tie academia and industry together, for example by setting up an external Masters degree for software engineers. My first question for Sir Hoare was about whether we should be concerned that undergraduate degrees try... Read more


Real Researchers Star in a University’s Creative TV Spot

If you've ever watched a college football game, you've seen a university public service announcement (PSA) airing at halftime. You know the spots I'm talking about too. They usually feature a deep voiced male spouting off about commitment, excellence, and scholarship. They often include beautiful campus shots, maybe a peek inside a classroom, a scene in a lab, and maybe another with students doing something fun. And they always end with a university logo and an uninspired tagline. At Georgia... Read more


Peter Naur and the Jennifer Aniston Neuron

Peter Naur has an impressive biography. He was a pioneer of programming languages, at a time when the idea of higher-level abstractions from the deepest-level ("close to the electrons") instructions was new, unusual, and anything but a given. But the notions he presented at this year's HLF seem to me to fall foul of the dictum ascribed to Einstein, namely that one should make things as simple as possible but not simpler. Naur presented a simple model of how the... Read more


Morsels For The Mind – 28/08/2015

Every day we provide you with Six Incredible Things Before Breakfast to nibble away at. Here you can fill your brain with the most intellectually stimulating “amuse bouches” from the past week – a veritable smorgasbord for the cranium. They’re all here for you to load up your plate – this week’s “Morsels for the mind”. Enjoy! If you do nothing else, make sure to check out the “Reads / views / listens of the week”. **** Feather, fur &... Read more


The Poly-Participant – How to be invited to Heidelberg again

The HLF is in its third year, and already there is one young researcher who managed to attend the forum twice. After successfully making the next step in his scientific career, Felix Günther took the chance to apply for the HLF a second time. In 2013 the mathematician attended the HLF as a PhD candidate from the Institute for mathematics, TU Berlin. Now, in 2015, he participates as a Post-Doc from the European Post-Doctoral Institute for Mathematical Sciences (EPDI). "I utterly... Read more


The SCICOMM 25 (8.28.15)

Welcome to the SCICOMM 25! This is where I pull together the week's 25 most talked about science communication stories, determined by the engagement rate of stories I've shared on Twitter. Many are written by the world's leading science communicators. Some offer tips and advice, while others tackle important issues we need to discuss and debate. All of them are worth checking out. I hope you enjoy this week's list. Top Stories: Why is science communication important? @FromTheLabBench Science. We have to... Read more


Deep, True, Clear and Beautiful – What Motivates the Laureates?

What transforms a sophisticated scientific talk to an inspiring presentation suitable for an audience with diverse backgrounds and broad interests, like here at the Heidelberg Laureate Forum? In my opinion, and after having seen most of the lectures here, three factors contribute to capturing the audience: Managing to integrate the own research into the historic context. Pointing out concrete problems or applications related to the research presented. Explaining the own motivation and answering why precisely this topic was chosen for research.... Read more


Algorithms and Life

We tend to think of algorithms and computation as human inventions, but organisms as primitive as bacteria have relied on algorithmic mechanisms throughout the history of life. The regulation of genes inside a single cell, feedback loops in the control of metabolism, the coordinated motions of bird flocks, and the foraging behavior of social insects: All these phenomena can be succinctly described in an algorithmic framework. Another notable example is pattern formation in animals—the tiger's stripes and the leopard's spots—for... Read more