Friday, March 30, 2012

How many (good) research questions are there?

In the past few months, I have been thinking a lot about the question I should investigate in my PhD-project. It put me thinking about how many good research questions are there? How many of these questions I'm interested in?
Right now I'm following the steps of a great Brazilian rock/ska band to figure it out. Once, a journalist asked the band what was their secret to have so many hits. They said something like "We write down hundreds of songs a month. At the end of the year, we can keep a few good ones."

So, that's exectally what I have been doing in the last few weeks. I writing down every research question I can think of, considering my research interests (no matter how stupid, obvious, naive or ambitous they sound).

After saying all this, this TED talk here may sound a bit self-help. But it's worth seven minutes of your time.

"The simplest questions can carry you out to the edge of human knowledge"  (via Flowing Data



ps. Of course most of the posed questions will be discarded. The next step should be to select the few good ones (if there's any left). But first things first...

Friday, March 23, 2012

Brain Gain and Engineering labor force in Brazil

Interesting story (in Portuguese only) by Globo News on international migration of high-skilled workers coming to Brazil (via R. Ojima).

Job prospects in Brazil are looking quite good
[Image Credit: The Economist]

By the way:



* "Projections of skilled labor supply in Brazil: scenarios for the supply of Engineers until 2020" (in Portuguese only ) 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Motorways and slime mould's rationality (!?)

This is probably the  strangest  most creative  idea for paper I have seen in the last months (HT Leo via MR).



"Are motorways rational from slime mould's point of view?"

Abstract:

We analyse the results of our experimental laboratory approximation of motorways networks with slime mould Physarum polycephalum. Motorway networks of fourteen geographical areas are considered: Australia, Africa, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Iberia, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, The Netherlands, UK, USA. For each geographical entity we represented major urban areas by oat flakes and inoculated the slime mould in a capital. After slime mould spanned all urban areas with a network of its protoplasmic tubes we extracted a generalised Physarum graph from the network and compared the graphs with an abstract motorway graph using most common measures. The measures employed are the number of independent cycles, cohesion, shortest paths lengths, diameter, the Harary index and the Randic index. We obtained a series of intriguing results, and found that the slime mould approximates best of all the motorway graphs of Belgium, Canada and China, and that for all entities studied the best match between Physarum and motorway graphs is detected by the Randic index (molecular branching index).

Soundtrack: Stand Up

Friday, March 16, 2012

Spatial Layout Efficiency (Space Syntax)

An informative presentation by Tim Stonor on Spatial Layout Efficiency, where he explains the fundamentals of Sapce Syntax and its applications in modelling the urban space.

ps. And our modest contribution to the topic: Spatial Layout Efficiency in terms of travel time.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Quote of the day

Excerpt from 'Toward Spatially Integrated Social Science': 

"... although basic science is directed at the discovery of general principles, the ultimate value of such knowledge, apart from simple curiosity, lies in our ability to apply it to local conditions and, thus, determine specific outcomes. Although such science may itself be placeless, the application of scientific knowledge in policy inevitably requires explicit attention to spatial variation, particularly when the basis of policy is local."

Goodchild et al. (2000: 142) apud Marcia C. Castro (2007 )

Thursday, March 8, 2012

O RLY?

I received an incredible email yesterday. I'd like to share it with you. 
I laughed my head off !


Dear Friend,

My name is Mrs Ananala Safiya From Burkina Faso.

I am writing in respect of my inheritance fund [...] I am the wife of late Gadafi president of Libya.

[...] my late husband have an account in one of the bank here in Burkina Faso. My husband deposited the some of Eighteen million.

[...] to claim this fund I most use the account of a foreigner and also does the change of ownership into the name of the beneficiary the certificate of deposit is with me.

[...] If you are really ready to assist me [...] I will give you 40% of the said amount. 

[...] You should forward to me all your personal information's as soon you receive this mail.

Thanks
Mrs Ananala Safiya Gaddafi. 

Residential Rents Worldwide

Just a short post today with this chart showing Residential Rents Worldwide (via The Economist).
[image credit: The Economist]
Soundtrack: Daft P.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

“We thought we had it nailed”

Alasdair Rae has posted a short analysis of  'Small Area Population Change in London, 2001 to 2010'. He mapped the results using ONS mid-year population estimates for small areas.

But we all know how these kind of demographic forecasts for small areas can become tricky sometimes.

When it came to plan Plan education or health care in London “We thought we had it nailed” says Baljit Bains (head of the Greater London Authority’s demography unit).

[Image Credit: under the raedar]

soundtrack: Metropolitan Jazz Affair

Monday, March 5, 2012

Las Vegas Urbanization (1976-2010)

Some of you might remember this post showing the urban expansion of Las Vegas (1984-2009).

Now, NASA decided to celebrate Landsat 5's 28th birthday publishing a time-lapse video showing the city's outward expansion. (via Mark Byrnes)

It makes me want to have my own satellite..... Don't you feel the same?

Replay: Parking Rates Worldwide

Colliers International (a big real estate company)  did an international survey on the cost of car parking. The results are presented in the chart below, which shows the monthly parking rates. (via The Drunkeynesian)

What caught my attention:
  • Prices that are too low (in my almighty opinion of course): Bangkok , Delhi, Jakarta,Mumbai, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Los Angeles, Seoul, São Paulo, San Diego, Santiago, Beijing, Mexico City, Istanbul and Atlanta.

  • Prices that are too high: _________(?).

Monthly Parking Rates Worldwide* (USD)
[Click on the chart to enlarge the image]
*Monthly unreserved median rates.