Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sound progress

Thanks to Roberta Buiani for her adept summary of our collaborative sonification project, which BSL's Dolores Steinman presented at the Subtle Technologies Festival in Toronto last weekend.  Next stop is the Supersonix conference in London (UK), where Dolores will meet up and present with our GreenOn collaborators, Riccardo Castagna and Valentina Margaria.

Blogstipation vs. Blogorrhea

Dear Reader,

On my way to work today, I was thinking about how I don't update this blog very often because I want to be careful, thorough and accurate about what I say. This came about from the previous post about hypothesis testing, after I realized I'd spent (or maybe wasted?) at least a couple of hours last night, and some time this morning, on so few words, all because I wanted to be sure I was accurately reflecting on a paper that I'd guzzled down the night before; and I am still wondering if I'd acted too rashly.

 So I had an idea about writing a blog post about what I feel (fear) might be the tendency of prolific Web 2.0'ers to sacrifice thoroughness and accuracy in the name of speed and timeliness, leaving the rest of us to separate the wheat from the chaff. But then I thought, no, maybe I'm being too harsh and unfair, and I'd better think about it some more and do some research before smearing what might well be a majority of writers who just happen to have the knack for getting their candid cogitations down cleanly, coherently and correctly. Whereas I am overly cautious and circumspect, for example having now spent almost an hour editing a shallow blog post about why I'm not cut out for writing blog posts on a regular basis.

Or perhaps I'm just disappointed that the oh-so-clever terms I'd come up with on my way to work today -- blogstipation, blogorrhea, and twitterhea -- are already in the Urban Dictionary.

Blogstipatedly yours,


Hypothesis Testing

Web of Science has a great service that notifies me when a paper I've authored has been cited.  This is a great way to find out who is reading -- well, at least who is citing -- one's work.  But it came as a bit of a surprise to find our 2008 paper on parent-aneurysm angle cited in a paper entitled "The Role of Hypothesis in Biomechanical Research".  Hmm, I thought, that can't be good...

The bottom line is that the authors looked at 100 papers published in The Journal of Experimental Biology and the Journal of Biomechanics and observed that, while the majority purported to test a hypothesis, many actually did not.  The authors go one speculate about a number of possible motives for such "window dressing".

I was somewhat relieved to find that our paper was only "strongly suspected" of having such a presentational hypothesis. Unfortunately the authors did not pick our paper as one of the four cases that they used to justify their suspicions, but they did later highlight the kinds of things that gave them pause:
  1. In a small number of cases, the data did not appear to bear on one or more of the hypotheses that it was the stated intention to test.
  2. In the other cases, which were more common, one of the stated aims of the paper was to test a hypothesis that was widely accepted to be true or false
  3. A sub-set of these cases were hypotheses that we thought to be post hoc; typically, in such cases, we registered only a suspicion.
I thought our paper was very clear about its motivations, namely that after we had observed "distinct types of intra-aneurismal hemodymamics" in two patient-specific cases we'd previously studied, we "hypothesized that these two distinct 'hemodynamic phenotypes' were primarily the result of the angle which the parent artery makes relative to the nominal center of the aneurysm bulb, independent of the bulb shape itself".  We then stated that we would "test this hypothesis using an idealized basilar tip aneurysm model in which [this angle] could be controlled independently," and did just that.

In the Discussion we did say "it can be hypothesized that Type II flow would create a higher associated risk of rupture", but this was intended to be conditional -- perhaps we should have said "could" instead of "can" -- but we made no claims about testing this.

So I'm not really sure why those authors were suspicious of our motives. Our data, from an idealized aneurysm model with varying angles, obviously bore on our hypothesis.  I'm pretty sure our hypothesis was novel, but even if it wasn't it certainly was not widely accepted to be true or false. Finally, we did not go through the trouble of running careful simulations on a series of idealized models with progressively angled bulbs only to hypothesize about it after the fact.

Oh well, as Oscar Wilde, er, hypothesized, the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Subtle Technologies Festival

We look forward to this weekend's Subtle Technologies Festival here in Toronto, where BSL's Dolores Steinman will be presenting, on Saturday, our sonic explorations with Green On's Riccardo Castagna and Valentina Margaria, and Torino's Master of Helicity, Diego Gallo. On Sunday Dolores will also participate in a panel discussion following the premiere of the film, BioArt.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Congratulations to Luis Aguilar, PhD

Felicitaciones to Luis Aguilar, who today successfully defended his PhD thesis, "Towards Real-Time Simulation of Ultrasound Systems". Many thanks to co-supervisor Richard Cobbold, and to examiners Guy Cloutier, David Goertz and Wayne Johnston for giving Luis his money's worth!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Prof's Life

Stumbled across this blog post of Fil Salustri's, which I think nicely describes the life of a Professor. Fil and I were grad students together at UofT, and had both done our undergrad degrees there.  He'd started two years earlier, so whenever I thought I'd been at UofT for too long -- and I was there for nearly a decade -- I had Fil to look up to (sorry Fil, couldn't resist :-)