Sometimes, being in academia rules. [Weekly Head Voices #25]

Kids!  It’s now truly summer over here, which means as much as possible time outside, which means less time available for writing blog posts. However, weeks 24 and 25 of 2010 contained such newsworthy items, that I’m simply forced to trade some sun-light for a bit of TFT exposure. In this post, we talk flowers, PhD defences, scientific talks, funny Js and finally stick figures, so please stick around!

I took this photo of the Oude Kerk in Delft as we were taking a walk with one of our esteemed guests. So it's really relevant to this post, ok?

I took this photo of the Oude Kerk in Delft as we were taking a walk with one of our esteemed guests. So it's really relevant to this post, ok?

Last week we had our department’s yearly BBQ at the Blue Lagoon at Scheveningen.  In a not altogether surprising turn of events, I’ve been working at the TU for 10 years, and I now have the bunch of orange flowers to show for it! Time is really fun when you’re having flies.

Five of my MedVis (that’s IN4307; if you’re at the TU, make sure you take this life-changing course! :P ) students presented their final project work. Between the visualisations of coronary stents from optical coherence tomography data, the 3D lung volume reduction surgery (LVRS) planning tool and the real-time X-Ray simulator, I was hugely and pleasantly impressed.  Expect to see a large part of this functionality in a future release of DeVIDE. This was energy-producing event #1 of the past two weeks. Energy-producing event #2 was a M.Sc. defence that I opposed just this past Friday, where the candidate presented and defended, in a highly-entertaining and convincing fashion, his thesis on investigating 3D synthetic aperture radar construction on multi-core architectures.

Energy-producing event #3 was when the now freshly minted Dr Eric Griffith defended his PhD thesis on Visualizing Cumulus Clouds in Virtual Reality in stellar fashion.  Dr Griffith did a superb job of maintaining an eloquent discussion with all 7 of his opponents. The offence of Prof Jos Roerdink (Visualisation, Groningen) also deserves mention: The multi-level questions and typically professorial delivery were most entertaining.

The final energy-producing event that I’m going to mention has been named #4 for mysterious reasons, and, for other reasons that will soon become clear, was for me the most significant. Jorik Blaas, close collaborator and friend for the past seven (7!) years, defended his PhD on the Visual Analysis of Multi-Field Data, on Thursday June 24. To take part in the offence, we were extremely honoured to welcome three luminaries of my research field (that’s Visualisation, for those of you who’ve just joined!): Prof.dr. Jack van Wijk, Prof.dr. Anders Ynnerman and the Viennese-Bergenesque Prof.dr. Helwig Hauser. Having all three of them in Delft was just WOW, you just have to trust me on this. In any case, for the first time at the TU, I was also allowed to take my place in the PhD committee. :)

Of course, Dr Blaas sailed through the defence, his usual understated yet verbally effective hyper-intelligent self. Invited lectures by our guests, much late night discussion on the nature of (visualisation) science and of life in general and finally a PhD party that stress-tested all glandular resilience helped to turn this into one seriously wonderful and life-affirming week. I am thankful to all involved.

In completely unrelated news:

  • Have you ever wondered what that funnily isolated ‘J’ character is doing at the end of sentences in emails?  Well, wonder no more! (5-second-version: it’s supposed to be a smiley, but Outlook on the sending side substitutes it with a character from the Wingdings font that is rendered at the receiving side, if that font is not available, as a ‘J’)
  • My 4-year old daughter recently made a drawing with two stick figures standing next to each other. Not significant as such, but the one stick figure was wearing a bow tie, while the other stick figure had a thought bubble above its head with a bow tie in it.

Thank you for joining me again for this edition of the Weekly Head Voices, and please feel free to kick-off completely unrelated discussions in the comments.  Next week (actually this week, I’m late), four of us will be going to Leipzig for the bi-annual Eurographics workshop on Visual Computing for Biology and Medicine (VCBM), which I’ll probably be reporting on in a future blog post (and hopefully on twitter with hashtag #vcbm2010). Stay tuned for much fun and excitement!