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The 29th Chaos Communication Congress (29C3) was held a couple of weeks ago under the title “Not my department” at the Congress Center in Hamburg, Germany.

Being among thousands of fellow nerds with so much going on was breathtaking. My most lasting impression was to see how many important non-technical aspects like philosophy, law and health were tackled in some of the talks and discussions with a refreshing hacking attitude. Clearly, the scope is expanding well beyond the limits of what is traditionally considered the comfort-zone of us nerds. As there were 3 tracks running in parallel, it was just impossible to attend everything, but fortunately, the video-streams are available on CCC-TV. Some of the talks that got me thinking are Applebaum’s opening keynote, “Hacking Philosophy“, “Best of … Verfassungsschutz“, “Hacking the law“, and “Enemies of the State“. Not to forget the wonderful discussions at the bar later, affectionately called “10-forward“. Hope to be there for the 30C3 again …

imagine the world as it should be – and then: code it up!

Here is where the title comes from: “… once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down? That’s not my department! – says Wernher von Braun” by Tom Lehrer:

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Weekend Science Videos: Views from and into the (night) sky above us

A message from space to our blue marble:

And here is the executive summary: “Our Story in 1 Minute” (somewhat reminiscent of the BigBangTheory Intro Sequence) by melodysheep

The following footage taken from the International Space Station left me speechless anyway: “View from the ISS at Night” by  (fullscreen view is a must)

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The great ideas of biology

The guardian has a series called “It’s a small world“, among which is a video called “Gregor Mendel and the genesis of genetics” where

Nobel laureate Sir Paul Nurse tells the story of another great idea in biology – genes as the basis of heredity – in a lecture at the Royal Institution in London. It all started with the gardening monk Gregor Mendel and his peas in the 19th century and reached a key milestone with the unravelling of the molecule of heredity, the DNA double helix, by James Watson and Francis Crick in 1953

The great ideas of biology covered are

  • the cell
  • the gene
  • natural selection
  • Life as chemistry
  • Biology as an organized system.

Similarly to “A Brief Introduction to GeneticsDavid Murawsky (as mentioned around here before, but hey, they repeat stuff on TV all the time, and not only the goodies) put another impressive clip out there: “18 Things You Should Know About Genetics“. Enjoy!

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Introductions to Graph Databases and Theory

As said before, I am getting deeper into graph-databases, specifically “neo4J “. The pace of development is breathtaking, it’s hard to keep up with the new versions and amazing features. In preparation of attending a “Cypher Hands On” (Meetup-Graph), I finally got round to updating to the latest 1.8M03 Milestone. By now, there are a couple of nice introductory videos available:

You might want to check out the videoGraphy @ neo4J. I also recommend the following Intro to Graph Databases (on vimeo) which has a nice explanation on what the buzz/whole point is all about plus some real world examples and history:

To deepen our understanding of the graph-theoretic foundations, I came across these books via

Graph Theory and Complex Networks: An Introduction” by Maarten van Steen. It is very interesting to note that this book is also available electronically as a personalised PDF. As the author notes: “When you write a book containing mathematical symbols, thinking big and acting commercially doesn’t seem the right combination. I merely hope to see the material to be used by many students and instructors everywhere and to receive a lot of constructive feedback that will lead to improvements. Acting commercially has never been one of my strong points anyway”.

– Reinhard Diestel: “Graph Theory“.

Working with #neo4j and #cypher I must take care not to: 1. get all addicted; 2. use it as a golden hammer for everything since it’s fun! @pavlobaron

It is fun, indeed. Enjoy!

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Beyond content searching: Google’s Knowledge Graph

Google started to roll out the Knowledge Graph, intended to be more about things rather than just strings. Delivering and disambiguating related content based on semantic network associations sounds great, if this really is a step forward to move out of the filter-bubble remains to be seen. Overall, it seems to be related to the idea of a conceptual graph, and wikipedia forms a big chunk of the underlying knowledge-base.

Further details: “Google Just Got A Whole Lot Smarter, Launches Its Knowledge Graph
Googles official blog “Introducing the Knowledge Graph: things, not strings “Google Knowledge Graph Brings Smarter Semantic Results to Your Google Searches “Knowledge Graph: Google Gets Tight With Wikipedia

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Happy birthday Richard !

Not that he won’t mind it was already yesterday. Since there are a couple of posts related to him on this site there is probably no need re-iterate how inspirational he was and even over 2 decades after his death still is. Just a welcome occasion to point out which has a great collection of videos, a photo gallery and quotes like this one on the ignorance of experts:

Science alone of all the subjects contains within itself the lesson of the danger of belief in the infallibility of the greatest teachers in the preceding generation … Learn from science that you must doubt the experts. As a matter of fact, I can also define science another way: Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts…

Let me refer you to this post with a bit more physics in it while leaving you with this scene from the movie “Infinity”, showing Feynman at the tender age of 6 learning a few things about science from his father.

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