Tater’s Takes

August 14th, 2010 by Potato

Wow, what a terrible, terrible week for exercise and diet. Started off with a StarCraft 2 “LAN” party, which involved 2 days of nothing but junk food. Then I was busy with work and it was hot and humid out, and I got my sleep schedule all screwed up, so I did basically no exercise. Weight’s up 2 pounds (and the scale’s calibrated right this time), so I’m going to have to be extra good this coming week. Meal plan: egg whites, oatmeal, fruit, repeat.

Of course, this was also the week that I started putting together “Little Known Facts About Calories” — a semi-secret project which I am teasing you about now, and hope to unveil soon… but not today!


Gamers can beat algorithms for finding optimum protein structures in a game simulating how protein chains would contort themselves to find their minimum energy configuration in the cell (with the water-like cytoplasm, and the fatty membrane layers). Turns out the algorithms are good at getting fairly close, but can be trapped in local energy minimums, which the gamers see past. A neat read.

OK Cupid has an article up investigating what can help make your profile picture look more appealing. Also, a neat graph showing that sluts are more likely choose iPhones as their smartphone of choice.

Yet more nonsense on the census. I don’t see the problem: StatsCan is a government agency with an excellent record of protecting privacy. The long-form census is incredibly useful and should continue to remain mandatory… I can’t believe the Cons are still trying to make an issue of this.

An illustrated guide to a Ph.D.. And, from the same author, 3 qualities of successful PhD students. To quote liberally from the second article:

“Smart” qualities like brilliance and quick-thinking are irrelevant in Ph.D. school. Students that have made it through so far on brilliance and quick-thinking alone wash out of Ph.D. programs with nagging predictability. Let there be no doubt: brilliance and quick-thinking are valuable in other pursuits. […] Certainly, being smart helps. But, it won’t get the job done.
To survive this period, you have to be willing to fail from the moment you wake to the moment your head hits the pillow. You must be willing to fail for days on end, for months on end and maybe even for years on end.
For students that excelled as undergraduates, the sudden and constant barrage of rejection and failure is jarring. If you have an ego problem, Ph.D. school will fix it. With a vengeance. (Some egos seem to recover afterward.)
Science is as much an act of persuasion as it is an act of discovery. […] You will have to write compelling abstracts and introductions that hook the reader and make her feel like investing time in your work. […] You will have to learn how to balance clarity and precision, so that your ideas come across without either ambiguity or stifling formality.
That’s why I recommend that new students start a blog. Even if no one else reads it, start one. You don’t even have to write about your research. Practicing the act of writing is all that matters.

I started my site in undergrad/high school, but the blogging platform didn’t arrive until grad school, so I suppose I can use this as a backwards rationalization as to why I did it :)

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