andres marrugo

A CV for My Thesis

A Ph.D. thesis is one of those things that has a life of its own. Last January, I had the opportunity to write a two-page abstract of my thesis for publication in Electronic Letters on Computer Vision and Image Analysis. It has been published and is now available on the web along with the PhD thesis.

The paper is only a glimpse of all the hard work that went into the making of the thesis, but anyone who reads it may get a decent idea of what it is about, and where to find the results I’ve published in different journals. I don’t think anyone wants to go through the process of writing a thesis twice, but most will agree that it is a life changing experience. Many of the best moments of my life so far, happened while working towards the PhD, especially the birth of my two boys.

Not Collapsing the Wave Function

Today in “This American Life” I was listening to an episode about hidden truths. It was really interesting to find out about a secret letter that the prime minister of Britain writes to every commander of a nuclear submarine. It supposedly contains instructions on what to do if the nation has been wiped out and if the commander should retaliate or not. It poses a mystery on what the contents are, even more so because every time there’s a new prime minister in office the letters are destroyed unread.

There are many questions that come about in knowing what the contents of the letter are. But to my understanding it is a way of reassuring your people that both possibilities exist. To retaliate or not. It is like delaying the final call on a difficult decision. Something akin to a Schrödinger cat situation.

I’ve thought of this for while and I’ve come to understand that many people actually like to live their lives this way. Not wanting to know certain things, or more precisely clinging to the hope that a certain aspect in one’s life does not turn out to be what we fear so much. Keeping both options open (not collapsing the wave function) is probably a reassuring situation, relieving anxiety and allowing one to continue living unmoved by the cold hard reality.

The Perils of Talking Too Much

photo credit: mkorsakov via photopin cc

All too often I see people who simply talk too much.1 Wether what they speak is nonsense or even meaningful things, there’s a limit to how much one can tolerate.

By talking too much – and too often – we miss out on many things. We don’t let others speak (which to my understanding is common courtesy), and worse of all we lose our capacity to empathize with others. We can’t read faces well while uttering words out of our mouths continuously. Loosing that feedback is what prompts us to speak without pause and with no care for what the people around us may feel. It’s what turns you into a prick. We’re just too focused on ourselves to care about others.

New Secularism

photo credit: Pablo Moroe via photopin cc.

Before Darwin it certainly was very difficult to be an atheist or a nonbeliever – that is, an intellectually fulfilled one.1 At least that’s how Richard Dawkins usually puts it and I quite agree with him. It was not that the scientific method2 didn’t exist at the time, it was that the mystery of life was too big a mystery to even consider tackling through the ways of science. Yet that was what Darwin did.

The topic of this post does not have to do with Darwin, at least in a direct sense. The other day I was listening to Point of Inquiry, a podcast from the center of inquiry.3 They had Frans de Waal on and he talked about his latest book The Bonobo and the Atheist. There was a moment during the interview that the host, Chris Mooney, referred to him as being an atheist to which he replied saying

A Book for My Son

In the latest Generational podcast episode Aaron Hillegass told Gabe that he wrote his Objective-C book with his ten-year-old in mind.

I found this to be quite interesting and truly inspiring. By writing the book “for his son,” he made sure anyone could actually read and understand it, but also he was deeply motivated to get it right. I wouldn’t want my son to read a crappy book.

If I ever had to write a guide about how to be (stay) motivated on a project this would definitely be there.

A Brave New World: The Joy of Discovery

This post is in fact a Day One entry. I treat my Day One journal as a sort of personal blog. A blog with a readership of one – at least in the present. What I mean to say is that, for the most part, I write about my life and for my kids, which are too young to read. I hope they read this in some distant future. I think that the things I might forget are probably the things they’ll want to know about. That is why I write.

Links of Interest for January 31, 2013

The “Links of Interest” is a type of post I’ll start to do on a regular basis here. Every now and then I come across something interesting in the web that I’d like to share with my readers, but that doesn’t necessarily merit a blog post or I really don’t have the time to write one. This type of blog post is inspired by Brett Terpstra’s “Web Excursions” system. As he explains, he prefers a single post with multiple links rather than a ton of individual “link list” posts. I do too.

To find out more about the details and the ruby script for automatically generating the post go to his website. The links posted here, I’ve gathered in the past couple of weeks using pinboard an incredibly useful bookmarking service. Enjoy.

Writing My Thoughts Down

iPod touch
photo credit: chiarashine via photopin cc

As is often the case, ideas come about in the most unexpected moments. Lately, I’ve found myself taking notes while walking to work, while waiting for a coffee in front of a bending machine, or like now while getting dressed for work.

It’s become a habit of mine to write what I think, when I think it. My iPod touch has enabled that. I could well have pen and paper with me at all times, but I’m not used to that and nothing beats the digital format.

Careless Email Writing

Text editing.
photo credit: Unhindered by Talent via photopin cc

I read the other day an email that desperately needed some editing. Writing without editing is pretty much the same as speaking with little attention to what we are saying. The great advantage of the written form over the spoken one is that you can go back an edit. Not editing what you write is both a poor use of the written form and a sign that you don’t care much for the person that will read your message.

‘Cooking’ Ideas

I love to cook – or one of the reasons I enjoy it so much is – because it’s a manual activity that, quite often, lets my mind wonder about. While cooking I can think about my problems,1 about the future, about a world different from this one. I can hear my thoughts in a undisturbed way. It is like a moment of pristine inspiration. Me and myself. Nobody else.