A Trained Monkey

A couple of weeks ago a collaborator and I took some really nice data. Or, at least, the data looks really nice. Whether or not it tells us anything new is another question: we need to analyze it first. To that end, I’ve spent the past week or so measuring the size, position, and frame of circles in a whole bunch of movies. I tried (and failed) to teach a computer to do this, but I feel reasonably confident that I could teach a monkey. It just isn’t that difficult. If the scientific supply catalogs ever add “trained monkey” to their offerings, I’ll be first in line. That said, there are some advantages to doing this myself, by hand: it means I’m becoming really familiar with the data, and hopefully, this means I’ll be more likely to pick up on subtle results. I also don’t have to worry about whether or not the analysis has been done properly.

That said, there’s a limited amount of computer analysis I can do in any one day before I start to get RSI-like symptoms. It’s also not exactly the most exciting way to spend the day. To stop myself from getting distracted, I plant myself at my desk, put on my headphones, and turn the volume way, way up. I often have my foot tapping madly to the music, too. I’ve no idea what my office-mates think!

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