Welcome Pauline!

The Turret is going to see a few new bloggers this semester, undergraduate students taking the Communication in Engineering course here at McGill.


To kick this off, it is my great pleasure to welcome Pauline (and her little brother).

We are all looking forward to hearing what Pauline will share with us on The Turret (no pressure!).

CTRF 49th Annual Conference

CTRF invites authors and presenters from academia, public and private sectors to submit their work to our 49th annual conference in support of this theme.

Authors who wish to present their work at the conference but do not wish to submit a full paper can submit a short paper through the conference’s paper submission website.

Particular interests include, but not limited to, papers about: technological, operational and institutional advances to make transportation systems more economical, efficient and reliable; conflicts between transportation and land use activities and how to overcome them; new models of financing that draw on the resources and efficiency of the private sector while preserving an emphasis on equity, sustainability and safety; and issues concerned with creating appropriate balance in regulating the economics, safety and security of transport, while maintaining Canada’s economic competitiveness.

Abstract Submission Deadline is Tuesday January 28th – see the attached Call for Papers or www.ctrf.ca for details.


The Science of Loooooove!

The-Science-of-Love beakerIt’s time to get your groove on!  Get your Mojo working and get in the mood for love!  McGill’s Freaky Friday series is sponsoring a love-in of sorts with their Science of Love Competition just in time for Valentine’s Day!  Open to undergraduate students in science, the six best one-page proposals on the chemistry, biology or physics of all things love-related will be chosen to deliver a 4-slide 4-minute presentation at Redpath Museum for the McLovin’ Science Prize.  The big event will take place on Valentine’s Day (of course!) at 5pm in Redpath Museum and is open to the public.  Proposals are due Jan. 31.  Please click here for further contest details.

In need of some inspiration to get the juices flowing?  Check out the BBC’s Three stages of falling in love page, PositScience’s Your brain in love page, Nature’s blog post reporting on research that confirms the existence of love at first sight and Scientific American’s Illusions of love page.  Or check out McGill’s home grown talent from the Mini-Science lectures on Science, Sex and Gender delivered by some of McGill’s most renowned scientists like Chemistry’s own Dr. Joe Schwarcz and Dr. Ehab Abouheif from the Department of Biology.

What could be more romantic than seducing the apple of your eye by showing him or her what an expert you are in love talk and winning the grand McLovin’ Science Prize?  Go ahead and wear your heart on your sleeve.  Share what you know about the Science of Love!

Image from Arif-nma.com

Fail early | Fail often

According to Jason Dunn, fail early and fail often should be the mantra for private industry in order to learn and move forward. He is an engineer and a cofounder of Made in Space, a company with a NASA contract to take 3D printer technology and apply it to space missions.

We have posted before on 3D printers in The Turret, and lately articles on the application of 3D printing in the world of food are everywhere: spooky meat-like bio-pastes, chocolate(!), and NASA’s hopes of using 3D printing to make space food. Made in Space is taking this further and proposing that rather than build equipment needed in space on Earth, and spend decades getting it right, it is possible to build everything in space with 3D printers. We can email hardware to space.

After you watch the video from TEDxTalks, you may want to read the book that inspired Jason Dunn to want to build colonies in space – The high frontier: Human colonies in space by Gerard K O’Neillvideo – that he discussed in a previous TEDxTalk.

Periodic Table of Visualization Methods

Periodic Table of Visualization MethodsI am a big promoter of using concept mapping to access the implicit knowledge that is trapped in our brains. Concept maps are graphic representations of knowledge that facilitate the organization of information, whether it is for a project we are planning or for research we are engaged in. I use the CmapTools software since it also allows me to save concept maps on a server and share them online.

It is, however, not the only technique for concept visualization, which is why I have often turned to the Periodic Table of Visualization Methods for inspiration. The table also includes methods for visualizing quantitative data (pie charts, line graphs, etc.) mapped to the alkali metals, methods for information visualization that transform data into images (data maps, flow charts, etc.), strategy visualization used commonly in management (such as stakeholder maps), metaphor visualization to convey insights about information (metro maps, bridges, etc.), and, lastly, compound visualization methods that bring together multiple graphical representation formats. Each element box also has additional information, such as the mode of thinking.

If you have any trouble scrolling over the element boxes and would like to see each of the methods separately, Chris Wallace has implemented an XML page that allows you to hide or view each image and also links out to Google images and Wikipedia entries.

Next week I will be attending the Visual Thinking with Mind-Mapping and Creative Modeling workshop at the School of Continuing Studies. I will be sure to post on what I learn there and share any new resources I come across. If you have any to share please do so in the comments box.

Have fun expressing yourself with these visualization methods!