28 August 2006

"Reclusive Genius," a Letter in response to "The Math Was Complex,

Below (#1) is the letter to the editor of the NY Times on the reclusive mathematician Perelman that was actually published (!). It comments on the week in review article (#2). It was also based on reading a long article in the New Yorker (#3).

Reclusive Genius (1 Letter)
Published: September 3, 2006
Re “The Math Was Complex, the Intentions, Strikingly Simple” (Week in Review, Aug. 27):
I read with great interest your article about Grigory Perelman, the Russian mathematician who refused to accept the highest honor in mathematics, the Fields Medal.
Whatever Dr. Perelman’s true motivations are, it has certainly made him something of a hero in the scientific community; he apparently puts deep thought and seeking knowledge ahead of personal accolades and career recognition in marked contrast to many of his prominent colleagues.
One cannot help but wonder whether the way that Dr. Perelman sequestered himself from the minutiae of academic life and from e-mail and correspondence altogether is a principal reason he has been able to think so deeply about a problem.
Perhaps tranquil reclusion is a prerequisite for brilliant thought, as evident in other legendary geniuses like Newton and Darwin.
Mark Gerstein
New Haven, Aug. 28, 2006
The writer is a professor of biomedical informatics and molecular biophysics at Yale.

The Math Was Complex, the Intentions, Strikingly Simple
Published: August 27, 2006
LONG before John Forbes Nash, the schizophrenic Nobel laureate fictionalized
onscreen in “A Beautiful Mind,” mathematics has been infused with the legend of
the mad genius cut off from the physical world and dwelling in a separate realm
of numbers. In ancient times, there was Pythagoras, guru of a cult of geometers,
and Archimedes, so distracted by an equation he was scratching in the sand that
he was slain by a Roman soldier. Pascal and Newton in the 17th century, Gödel in
the 20th — each reinforced the image of the mathematician as ascetic, forgoing a
regular life to pursue truths too rarefied for the rest of us to understand....

A legendary problem and the battle over who solved it.
Issue of 2006-08-28
Posted 2006-08-21
On the evening of June 20th, several hundred physicists, including a Nobel
laureate, assembled in an auditorium at the Friendship Hotel in Beijing for a
lecture by the Chinese mathematician Shing-Tung Yau. In the late
nineteen-seventies, when Yau was in his twenties, he had made a series of
breakthroughs that helped launch the string-theory revolution in physics and
earned him, in addition to a Fields Medal—the most coveted award in
mathematics—a reputation in both disciplines as a thinker of unrivalled
technical power. ... When a member of a hiring committee at Stanford asked him
for a C.V. to include with requests for letters of recommendation, Perelman
balked. “If they know my work, they don’t need my C.V.,” he said. “If they need
my C.V., they don’t know my work.”... Mikhail Gromov, the Russian geometer, said
that he understood Perelman’s logic: “To do great work, you have to have a pure
mind. You can think only about the mathematics. Everything else is human
weakness. Accepting prizes is showing weakness.” Others might view Perelman’s
refusal to accept a Fields as arrogant, Gromov said, but his principles are
admirable. “The ideal scientist does science and cares about nothing else,” he
said. “He wants to live this ideal. Now, I don’t think he really lives on this
ideal plane. But he wants to.”
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22 August 2006

Thoughts on sunscreens

According to
it appears that Avobenzone also known as Parasol 1789, confers UVA protection.

I like
, which appear to be good in this regard.

The below contain titanium & zinc oxide, physical sunblocks:


A Product Endorsement, Courtesy of the Revolution -- NY Times

Seems to be the ultimate product endorsement... by the ultimate non-capitalist


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21 August 2006

Raging Hormones -- NY Times

HGH is perhaps a substitute for dieting, albeit an illegal one...

Raging Hormones
By GRETCHEN REYNOLDS, Published: August 20, 2006

Six years ago, Dr. Paul Savage was a pudgy mess. A 38-year-old emergency-room director in Waukegan, Ill., he weighed 267 pounds, suffered from high blood pressure and shortness of breath and had sallow skin that drooped in wattles around his chin. Today, at 44, he’s a new, unrecognizable man. Almost 100 pounds lighter, he boasts 12 percent body fat, a superhero jaw line and skin tone that seems almost incandescent. Savage says he owes much of his transformation to the self-administration of human growth hormone (H.G.H.).....

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18 August 2006

Phone, Web Conferencing, Webinar and Webcasting Services

for setting up conference calls


14 August 2006

Spy’s-eye View -- the Atlantic

Nice guide to things one can do with Google Earth

The Atlantic Monthly | March 2006
Spy’s-eye View
Google Earth and its rival programs offer (civilians) a new way to look at the world
by James Fallows
A s best I can figure, I have spent 35,000 to 40,000 hours of my life sitting at a computer. This knowledge does not improve my mood or self-esteem. But it brings into sharp relief the handful of moments at the keyboard I can distinctly remember, each involving a time when I realized that the computer had just done something important and new....

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13 August 2006

Mr. Ratner’s Neighborhood -- New York Magazine

Another financial analysis related to a NY sports team, highlighting the tricky politics of  development.

Mr. Ratner’s Neighborhood
Manipulative developers, shrill protesters, and a sixteen-tower glass-and-steel monster marching inexorably forward. What the battle for the soul of Brooklyn looks like—from right next door.
By Chris Smith, New York Magazine
Jim Stuckey is clearly having trouble containing his excitement. As he waits for the small scrum of reporters to get ready, he adjusts his light-purple tie. He smooths his shock of white hair. He suppresses a smile....

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Don't Eat This Book: Fast Food and the Supersizing of America (Hardcover)

Enjoying reading this book. It contains links to websites listing Farmer's markets and also a nice listing of all the fad diets in the last century.

Fad Diet History:
"Another liquid diet, the vinegar diet, was a fad in Europe in the ...  up one of the most boring diets in history, the Bland Diet. He believed that rich and spicy foods not only ... the cereal guy, was a big fan of Fletcherizing [diet]) The grapefruit diet, huge for a while in the 1920s, advocated massive ... and more disgusting diets, also from the 1920s, was the tapeworm diet. Apparently no one actually swallowed live tapeworms, but there were diet pills on the market that claimed to contain ....Since 1970, as Americans' weight has ballooned, the diet fads have been coming hot and heavy: Dr. Robert Atkins come out with his low-carb diet in 1972. it faded, ... high-protein Scarsdale diet swept the land in 1978. The low-fat Pritikin diet was all the rage in 1979. Judy Mazel's Beverly Hills diet... life Choice diet was big in the early nineties. The Zone plan had people loading up on lean meat, egg whites, fish and chicken in the late 1990s. And more recently, the Southbeach diet...Not to mention the cabbage soup diet, the boiled egg diet, the Abs diet ... It's no big surprise that the Fatkins diet is popular again. ..."

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Give attachment names more room in Thunderbird » Chris Ilias’ Blog

Useful blog post to fix problem in new Thunderbird.


08 August 2006

A Trader’s Train to Wall Street, Conn. -- NY Times

Appears to be a reverse commute to CT.

A Trader’s Train to Wall Street, Conn.
By MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT, Published: August 4, 2006
Inga Shchipanova does some reading on her Metro-North commute from Manhattan to Connecticut. But many are not on their way to offices on Wall Street or in Midtown. Instead, they are crowded into trains for Greenwich, Conn., which has emerged as the home of the ballooning hedge fund industry... The trains leaving Grand Central between 7 and 8:30 a.m. are packed. Most seats are taken and conversation is sparse. Unlike Wall Street commuters, many are not wearing suits. Yet like the Wall Street crowd, some are working furiously on their BlackBerrys and laptops...

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07 August 2006

ARE YOU LISTENING? (podcasts) -- the-scientist.com

An interesting review of science podcasts. For fun, my personal rankings follow.
Top tier (best to worst): Nature, Science, NY Times Sci. Times, New Scientist (scipod), Security Now!
Middle tier: NOVA, Science Friday, Naked Scientist
Bottom tier: The Scientist, Scientific American, NEJ Med. , This Week in Science

For some, science podcasts are time-savers that open their minds to new fields. For others, they're just another fad. What's the future?
By Ishani Ganguli

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Top 20 NIH grants of 2005 -- the-scientist.com

Eric Lander's single NIH grant with >$50M for 2005!

Top 20 NIH grants of 2005
from the-scientist.com/2006/8/1/26/1/
Volume 20 | Issue 8 | Page 26
The Inequality of Science

1 - Lander, Eric S AT Massachusetts Institute of Technology, $53.4 million TO Generate high-quality genome sequence
2 - Wilson, Richard K AT Washington University, $46.1 million TO Improve informatics tools, produce genome sequence
3 - Gibbs, Richard AT A Baylor College of Medicine, $32.7 million TO Produce draft sequences of the rhesus macaque and bovine genomes
4 - Hirst, Kathryn AT George Washington University, $31.1 million TO Coordinate clinical trials of type 2 diabetes in adolescents and children
5 - Reaman, Gregory H AT National Childhood Cancer Foundation, $28.5 million TO Reduce deaths from childhood cancer by 20% and increase 5-year disease-free survival rates to >85%

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01 August 2006

Search Beyond Google -- Technology Review

Resurrected an old letter that I wrote to TR to post on my blog. (It was never published.) Thought it was still relevant. Here it is:

I was very intrigued by the recent article in Technology Review about
"Search beyond Google." The article mentioned various ways people are
trying to subvert and spoof Google and how Google is fighting back. I
thought I would add something to this, a practice I have observed that
people call "anti-googling." Now that Google is so prevalent when two
people meet who have not met before, they tend to Google each other
immediately afterwards and then peruse a variety of interesting facts
and tidbits about each other. If one wants to be a bit annoying -- or
downright mean -- one can create a number of web pages (using weblogs
or free sites such as geocities) implicting someone in various silly
acts or even in a crime. These reside on the web and will often be
picked up by Google. Once they spring into existence it is very hard
to make them disappear or to combat their veracity. Thus, one can be
smeared in a very unfortunate way, using Google.

Search Beyond Google -- Technology Review
March 2004, By Wade Roush

Google reigns supreme as the search engine of choice-but for how long? A pack of startups-and Microsoft-are developing technologies to find what you want, faster.
If employees at Google are anxious about the future, you wouldn't know it from a visit to the company's headquarters. Since last fall, when talk of an initial public offering got investors salivating, the organization has been under unusual scrutiny: some observers have called it "the hottest company on the planet," while others claim it's a business in leaderless disarray, with competitors crowding in and major customers on the verge of defection. But the Google complex in Mountain View, CA, is as outwardly carefree as any college campus....
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Interesting in relation to binding sites.

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Rules for modeling signal-transduction systems -- Sci STKE

Looks like an interesting article... and perhaps also a good place to publish network ideas.

Sci STKE. 2006 Jul 18;2006(344):re6.  
Rules for modeling signal-transduction systems.
Hlavacek WS, Faeder JR, Blinov ML, Posner RG, Hucka M, Fontana W.
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