Imagining dimensions

December 20, 2006

Scaling and dimensionality are common to all sciences. Which doesn’t necessarily make the concepts any easier to wrap your mind around. For example, its hard to conceive of a 5th dimension (although in EEB, the n-dimensional hyperspace, that is, Hutchinson’s Niche, is taught in Intro Ecology).

Well, puzzle no longer my friends. Here is the most compelling visual explanation of dimensionality that you’ll likely to come across… until…well…the next one. And you’ll be pleased to know that you only have to keep up with 10 dimensions to capture life, the universe, everything. Note, this requires Flash 8 and broadband (tho it could easily be done on with chalk and a blackboard).

Beautifully done.

“It’s the most, wunnerful tiiiiiiime….of the year!”, (or Grant writing 101)

December 20, 2006

Many of us are slogging away during the holidays, getting ready to pitch a grant.

Now there are folks who see this as the worst kind of drudgery. And yes, there is a rather masochistic element to spending a fair bit of time, and a whole lot of creative energy, pitching an idea to NSF when it’s currently funding about 8% of its proposals. Yet at the same time, its a great way to truly focus on what you want to do next, to anticipate what it would be like tromping through a new field site, relishing that new data, and, generally, finding out some cool new stuff.

We’ll be talking a lot about this subject, but I can’t think of a better way to begin than a short introduction by Joan Straumanis’s introduction to the art, science, and politics of writing a winning proposal. It’s built from her time working with Funding for the Improvement of PostSecondary Education (or “FIPSE” to close personal friends). I’ve reprinted it below, if you find roaming around the current administration’s Department of Education website, well, rather icky.

All the points are worth noting, but pay particular attention to

12. Write the abstract last…Write 3 versions: one page (first page of proposal, whether requested or not), one paragraph (if requested), and one line, the proposal title-which you should think of as a mini-abstract (descriptive and intriguing)…. Prepare for the possibility that some sleepy reviewer might read only the abstract.

h/t to SP, who’s also working on a proposal.
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