Representing Data in the Science of Emotion

A recent study published in PNAS has been floating on my radar for a while — this one, proclaiming a physical reaction to emotional content that is universal across cultures and languages. There’s some interesting data here, and a couple issues I have about how they represented their data, and …

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Wind Power: Because the Desert Blows

Trekking to the west coast of America a few weeks back, Rob and I were pleasantly surprised by how many wind turbines we saw. The only wind turbine that I can think of in the Dallas/Fort Worth area is located above a Wal-Mart and it barely spins, so my experience …


More Adventures in Terrible Data Sonification

Data sonification is a touchy issue at Mad Art Lab. I’ll admit, when I first started writing here, I was on board with all of it — stock prices? Twitter conversations? The Higgs-Boson? If you turn it into music, no matter what it sounds like, I guarantee I’ll be impressed. …

By TheWiz83, A government office in L'Aquila damaged by the 2009 Earthquake

Italian Scientists Convicted for Earthquake Damage, and the Failure of Science Communication

This is a big deal: several Italian scientists were convicted for multiple manslaughter after a 2009 earthquake. And in amongst the cries and straw-men about “You can’t try someone for not being able to predict an earthquake!” there’s an interesting story. I recommend this summary, and this article in Nature …


Musical Crowdsourcing

The internet is great, isn’t it? With the right idea and some technological know-how, a person can tap into billions of people’s minds and unearth their opinions, expertise, or talents. Sometimes this ends up with cool citizen science projects like [email protected], sometimes it ends up with really stupid memes, but …


Accidental Art

Statistically speaking, I wonder how often art happens by accident? Or is it only art if it is photographed or documented? I present to you this image from the Boston Globe: Is the accident the art or is the photographer, Winslow Townson for The Boston Globe the true artist? The …

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Statistically, Taste Sucks

Had two emails after a gig the other week. One said, ‘Really enjoyed your set – when are you next in London?’ The other said ‘you’re F**King Sh*tt I hope you get turned into meat’ (ironically this latter email was apparently inspired by my jokes about irritating Buddhists). The gig …