Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Nice Write-Up of Yours Truly



My ambitious undergraduate researcher Jonathan Gagné was written up in my faculty's newsletter. It reflects well on him and on me.

http://www.carleton.ca/fass/events/2008/July/beyond_imagining.html
http://www2.carleton.ca/fass/news/beyond-imagining/

Full text below:

Beyond imagining



You’ll likely find Jonathan Gagné sitting at the edge of the Rideau River contemplating human imagination. Along with his supervisor Jim Davies, he is attempting to unravel the mysteries of how we can visualize all the things we do, especially when we have never seen some of these things. If you are asked to imagine a purple elephant, nearly all of us can do so, yet few of us have ever seen one. What is happening in our minds that allow us to be able to do this? This very question is at the heart of the honours thesis in Cognitive Science, which Gagné is currently completing. His thesis presents an account of how humans could be accomplishing this feat.

Gagné’s undergraduate research work, high grades, and extra-curricular initiatives, has led him to win the highest NSERC graduate award, the Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarship, which is awarded to the top-ranked graduate students in the country. This award has even resulted in Gagné being scouted by universities across Canada, despite never applying. “I contribute much of my success to the outstanding Cognitive Science program. The program is very interesting, and the staff and faculty are kind and very helpful. If it were not for Dr. Davies giving me a chance to begin working on his research, I would not have the opportunities I have now. I unquestionably recommend this program to anyone with interests in the human mind,” said Gagné.

Gagné’s university involvement has gone beyond just research. He has philanthropic involvement with Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS, The American Heart Association, The Alzheimer’s Association, and the Shepherds of Good Hope. In the 2006 – 2007 academic year he was elected as the Constituency Representative for the Faculty of Arts and Social Science, where he represented and voiced the opinions of over 6800 students, on behalf of the Carleton University Student Association (CUSA). In his spare time, he is the captain of a football and a basketball team, and still makes time to practice his musical instrument.

“The well rounded cognitive science program is challenging and intriguing. It has developed me mentally, and has inspired me to take an active role on campus.”

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Jim Davies Dancing Animation



Motion captured in the lab of my man Ali Arya. This is me dancing to the song "Push It," I believe. I felt a little inhibited because if I danced to vigorously I would knock off the motion capture beads that were on my legs and feet.

See links below if you want to download versions of them to your computer.

If anyone has the ability to give me a new video set to the music (http://youtube.com/watch?v=BCV5yGKWjv4)I would love it!
Video at:
http://paulslinger.ca/JimDavies_PushIt.avi (big)

and if that doesn't work
http://www.csit.carleton.ca/~arya/tmp/ (smaller)

Sunday, July 06, 2008

How Awesome is Wikipedia?


How Awesome is Wikipedia?

http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/37

How awesome is Wikipedia?

Very awesome.

I use wikipedia many times every week. Often I use it to resolve debates I'm having with someone. I find myself saying quite often "Wikipedia will know the answer."

Not only does it know the right answer, but sometimes it tells me why certain people think certain things, in terms of their backgrounds. I have two examples of this.

1) One of my pet peeves about non-Americans is that they refer to America as "The States." If you want to know why, you'll have to read the entry in my Rants Blog. Anyway, my friend and partner in science Leo was saying that calling it America was irritating because everyone in North and South America was "American." I argued back, no, it's understood that "American" refers to things from the United States. This led to a debate about how many continents there were. He thought America was one continent. We decided to let Wikipedia be the arbiter. Not only did it confirm that I was correct, and that North and South America are two separate continents, but it said "North and South America are viewed as a single continent, one of six in total, in the Iberian Peninsula, Italy, Israel, some other parts of Europe, and much of Latin America." Leo is from Argentina! Awesome.

2) Another one of my more minor pet peeves is how Canadians always call parentheses "brackets." I decided to look on Wikipedia to see if they were wrong. Turns out no, they are actually right, in that parentheses are a particular kind of bracket. They're being less specific than they could be, but they're not being wrong. Anyway, it says in its entry for brackets "With respect to computer science, the term is sometimes said to only strictly apply to the square or box type." Well what do you know, yours truly has a Ph.D. in computer science.