영어권 문화와 글읽기에 대해서 (my first post in Korean)

최근에 지인이 GRE 공부를 시작해서 열심히 단어를 외우고 있습니다. 시간이 촉박할 때에는 그것이 가장 좋은 방법이고 많은 분들이 그런 식으로 공부를 하고 계시겠죠. 하지만 영어 공부를 이렇게 벼락치기식으로 해서 실생활에는 별로 도움이 되지 않는다는 사실은 모두 잘 아실 겁니다.

예로 제가 오늘 Wired magazine 에서 읽은 글입니다. 이글에서 유명한 인용이 몇번 나옵니다. 하나는 마지막에서 세번째 단락의 “Hamlet was right: There really are more things in heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy.” 이것은 친절하게 출처까지 제공하니 어떤 의미로 썼는지 알기 쉽죠. 하지만 마지막 문장의 “It’s mystery all the way down.” 는 어떤 인용구 일까요? 그리고 의미는?

대답은 여기 있습니다. 스티븐 호킹의 Brief History of Time 에서 나온 일화가 유래입니다. 간단하게 말하면 mystery 밑에는 또다른 mystery, 무한히 반복된다는 뜻이죠. 꽤 유명한 말이라 아무런 설명없이 쓰는 경우가 많습니다. 예로 ‘네모의 꿈’ 을 영상화한 듯한 비디오를 소개한 글이 있죠.

그렇다면 다시 주제로 돌아가서 영어공부를 하는 가장 좋은 방법은 무엇일까요? 시간 여유가 있다면, 읽기와 쓰기 공부는 대량의 독서가 가장 확실한 방법이라고 생각합니다. 반드시 명작일 필요는 없습니다. 만약에 지금 번역서를 읽고 있다면 원서를 사서 읽어보세요. 해리포터라도 좋습니다. 그리고 반드시 책이 아니어도 됩니다. 위에서 인용한 Wired magazine, Discovery blogs 등은 상당히 수준이 높고 흥미있는 글들을 게재합니다. New York Times 도 좋은 자료가 될 수 있죠. 웹서핑을 서서히 한글권에서 영어권으로 옮기시면 훨씬 다양한 웹사이트와 자료를 발견하실 수 있습니다.

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Impressions of the Biomedical Informatics program at Stanford

I recently had to summarize my experience in the masters program here at Stanford, so I decided to take this opportunity to describe it here on the blog as well. 

Looking back on the past year and a half as a Master’s degree student in Biomedical Informatics, I can unequivocally say that this is the most fun I’ve ever had in school. It definitely speaks to the quality of the faculty that I even enjoyed classes in my weaker areas.

I don’t have first hand experience with the programs at other institutions, so I am not the best person to comment on their relative strong and weak points. However, I can talk about what I think are the advantages of Stanford.

 

1. The breadth and depth of expertise.

This applies to both the faculty and the students. Whatever field your passion is in, I’m sure you can find some way to satisfy it here at Stanford. You can work with the leading experts in various branches of statistics and machine learning, collaborate with world-class biologists and engineers, and work on class projects with some of the smartest people you’ve ever met. Someone I know once said that his goal was to always be the stupidest person in the room :). You may not accomplish that, but you will have a hard time being the smartest. 

 

2. ‘Technical virtuosity’

Our program chair is very fond of this term. At Stanford, you will become proficient/ knowledgeable in all of the main areas of biomedical informatics, broadly defined to be computer science, statistics, and biomedical domain expertise. Practically this means that at some point in your education you could work as an intern programming for Facebook, you can write the code to perform GWAS and expression profile analyses or various machine learning algorithms, understand what you are doing and the pitfalls involved, and finally apply those skills to research problems in biomedicine. I don’t think this is true of all the other programs. Specifically, some seem to have a lower bar for MDs. 

 

3. The CLIMATE.

The first several months here, I was frequently reminded of the slogan ‘Happy cows come from California’. All my life I’ve thought that climate is no big deal, etc. Well now I’m addicted to California weather. 

 

I hope this post is helpful to anybody who is interested in pursuing this career path. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions. 

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Computer Science resources

Stanford is inviting people to participate in some of its most popular courses for free!

Machine Learning

Introduction to Databases

 

 

Introduction to Artificial Intelligence

Additional courses, such as the foundational algorithms class by Tim RoughGarden, are offered here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tiers of data sharing

I’ve heard many people complain about this, but why do researchers insist on sharing their data in a PDF document? Especially a 600+ page PDF table in which the columns select before the rows (sometimes).

Tiers of data sharing:
Platinum: SQL dump, SQLite database
Gold: CSV or tab-delimited text
Silver: MS Excel (beware of mangled gene names like ’1-Sep’ for SEPT1)
Bronze: MS Word
Poop: PDF

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Hackety-Hack.com: learn Ruby programming

Whenever I try to get people around me to get into programming, they say that it’s too hard. Maybe this would change their minds? Apparently it’s a very user-friendly program for learning Ruby, no prior programming experience required. If you’re interested in programming at all (it is incredibly empowering), or if you want your kid to acquire one of most useful skills in the modern age, download it and try it out.

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A resource for scientists starting to program

These tutorials at Software Carpentry cover some of the more important concepts that do not get enough attention, such as version control, using the shell, etc. Best to acquire good habits early on!

 

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Another wonderful resource for probability

I’m so busy that I forgot I even had this on my hard drive; I’d even saved it in Papers!  The title is ‘Introduction to Probability‘ by Grinstead and Snell.  It’s a bit more modern than Drake, and seems much more approachable than Ross (it would be difficult to be less approachable than that book).  This brings me to wonder, with all these excellent resources available online, professors decide to teach from much more dense (and expensive) material.

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