Archive for November, 2011

The Joy of Stats

Visualisation is right at the heart of my own work, too […]
and I know, having the data is not enough.
I have to show it in ways people both enjoy and understand.

Hans Rosling’s TED talks have been a shining and influential example to many (including myself, I hope) – here is him condensing the development of the last 200 years around the globe into an engaging presentation in just under 4 minutes.

Hans Rosling’s 200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes – The Joy of Stats – BBC Four – shared by Hyun P. via the group Wolfson College, Cambridge on LinkedIn.

More links and the full (1h) documentary on BBC Four are available here and on the Open University website. Also, there is an interview and a best-of video on

“I kid you not, statistics is now the sexiest subject on the planet” says Hans Rosling – I guess the title is a (not so subtle) reference to the 1972 book from Dr. Alex Comfort.

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Visualizing Social Network Dynamics

Honestly, I am still coming to grips with some features of google+, but it’s gaining on me. Thanks to suggestions there, I came across this visualisation :

This video visualizes 5 hours of posts, comments, and likes on Google Plus condensed in to 4 minutes.

I think the way dynamical aspects of the network are highlighted is quite impressive and could be useful in the context of biomolecular networks as well:

More details explaining what’s going on are available on the youtube-page (click the youtube-logo in the lower right of the video). There you can switch from 360p to HD (up to 1080p) and watch it in full screen mode, which allows to clearly read the text and labels that pop up. A nice description is in “Take That, Google: Interactive Google+ Stream Visualizer Launching as Chrome Extension” – it is also mentioned among “The 65 Stories TechCrunch Didn’t Cover in November (But LAUNCH Did)” on (surprise!) LAUNCH.

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A Multiverse of Exploration

The Institute for the Future  explored at a recent Technology Horizons Program conference the “Future of Science.

As a result, they identified 6 main areas and visualized them on this map. Most fascinating and closely related to my own interests are the topics on the right side of it:

  • data intensive science spawns new disciplines
  • science becomes gameified (i.e.
  • scientific papers are executable as code
  • massively linked data becomes a public utility
  • wikipedia of science models is created
  • human microbiome is mapped
  • organisms become programmable
  • epigenetics informs real-time genome tweaking
  • new lifeforms created from scratch (synthetic biology?!)
  • engineered evolution

I am not an expert on the rest of the pack, “space-time cloaks” and “teleportation” still sound far too much like science fiction to me to bet on it. However, for the above-mentioned items, I can see they get realized (and have a major impact) during the next decade – some aspects of the list have already been covered in previous posts. Some of these “scientific projects” are already almost there, considering for example the advances in directed evolution, crowd-sourcing and open linked data. As any strange map, it conveys a certain set of ideas and contains some build-in bias – but going through them and discovering where it (mis-)matches with ones own views of the multiverse I always find illuminating.

Found via this article on boingboing.

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Am I Boss and Hero of Kosmos!

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Todays DOODLE marking the 60th anniversary of Stanisław Lem‘s first book is a welcome occasion to point out the recent production “IJON TICHY – SpacePilot“.

It’s inspired by Lem’s “Star Diaries” (Dzienniki gwiazdowe), the intentionally trashy (but not cheap) series follows roughly the equation (HitchhikersGuide + RedDwarfStarTrek). It’s kind of 60s, sort of groovy – and cool as a 3-room flat built into a coffemaker with a hyperdrive can be. Unfortunately available in german (with a strong eastern european accent) only:

More info and links are on the ProductionBlog. The 2nd part of the series just started recently – episodes are freely available on

“… buht soh Peoples arre – belieeve rratherr grreeatest Buhlshit than trrue fact.” – this final line in every Episode is a statement one can only heartily agree with.

(“… aberr soh sind Menschen- glauben lieberr grrösßsten Blötsinn als waahrre Tatsache.”)

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Ancient computing – the Antikythera Mechanism

When diving deeper into the far end of the historic roots of bioinformatics, I came across the Antikythera mechanism. To me, it has all the hallmarks of what bioinformatics is about: taking in the available knowledge of the time, integrating all the data there is into a functional machine model that actually makes useful and verifiable predictions. And all of that already happened approximately 2100 years ago. Wow!

The timeline for BioInformatics I created however did not seem to accept a corresponding entry, although on dipity dates B.C. should work (since April 2011, they say) – but not for me (yet).

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R-omes aren’t build in a day

where R ∈ {Prote, Interact, Gen, …}

Tommy Carstensen

[…] built a model of DNA out of LEGO bricks (of PDB entry 2DAU, to be precise) to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the PDB. The clip also has educational value, explaining some of the basics of DNA structure and more.

[posted by Gerard J. Kleywegt via pdb-l mailing list (] For all those which are under the jurisdiction (=curse?) of the GEMA: the video (mp4) can also be found here.
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Weekend Music Video

A different kind of “cat content” delivered by these 4 ladies from Norway :

The full official video was available on their website but seems to have been replaced by their latest video, a short (1 min.) teaser is here:

And there is also “The Making of” available – Enjoy!


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