10 February 2007

How to do Great Research

Mac FireFox and Blogger ate my draft last night. Grr. Here were some highlights:

How to do Great Research
Artist John Maeda points to this transcription of a speech given in the 1980s by Richard Hamming, a quite famous mathematician. His "You and Your Research" is about how to do reserach, (not how to manage research).

I think his talk is relevant to just about any field. Here, Maeda quotes Hamming quoting Bode:

"The more you know, the more you learn; the more you learn, the more you can do; the more you can do, the more opportunity -- it is very much like compound interest. I don't want to give you a rate, but it is a very high rate. Given two people with exactly the same ability, the one person who manages day in and day out to get in one more hour of thinking will be tremendously more productive over a lifetime."

However, he points out, that usually requires neglecting loved ones.

He also delves into how to choose a great research project, not just research; how to dress (!); and one notably Rain Man-esque passage that reads:

"By taking the trouble to tell jokes to the secretaries and being a little friendly, I got superb secretarial help. For instance, one time for some idiot reason all the reproducing services at Murray Hill were tied up. Don't ask me how, but they were. I wanted something done. My secretary called up somebody at Holmdel, hopped the company car, made the hour-long trip down and got it reproduced, and then came back. It was a payoff for the times I had made an effort to cheer her up, tell her jokes and be friendly; it was that little extra work that later paid off for me. By realizing you have to use the system and studying how to get the system to do your work, you learn how to adapt the system to your desires."

And for something completely different:

Two Presentations on Scientific Illustrations
One of the top computer graphics researchers, Pat Hanrahan, has been studying the distant history of scientific illustrations, partially to help predict where computer graphics might be going.

Here are two of his talks that I particularly enjoyed. The slides have the text underneath them.

Self-Illustrating Phenomena and
Realistic or Abstract Imagery: The Future of Computer Graphics?

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