Thursday, February 11, 2010

Google Alerts is Worse than Crack

I have lots of Google Alerts set up for technical jargon kinds of phrases related to topics I'm interested in. Mostly I end up getting an Inbox full of advertising and political bloviating (it's amazing how many technical phrases the policy wonks have co-opted), but every now and then I get some real gems (and I try to share them on this site). I feel like the rat in the cage pushing his lever to get that reward. I'm on a random schedule of reinforcement, so it is addictive enough that I don't want to turn them off.

A good example of one of my alerts phrases is topological optimization of structures -"search engine optimization". Notice the all important inclusion of the minus operator. Try it, pretty much any kind of search phrase you try that includes 'optimization' is going to be swamped by SEO tools (I use that term in both senses of the word).

This is one of my phrases that hasn't paid off much in any way lately, but today I got a link to some summaries of recent talks, that included the phrase computational morphodynamics: local dynamics of form in biology and technology. Now that's new terminology for me, and it's a pretty useful concept / turn of phrase (yes, that phrase is probably going to turn into another Inbox-filling, random-reinforcing monkey on my back, such is life).


  1. Found by the googlebot: Biological Network Modeling Center, Computational Morphodynamics may be defined as the study of the three-way interaction of physical, informational, and geometrical processes that influence the changing form, shape, and structure of living cells, tissues and organisms.

    On a related note this paper on coupled fluid-structure modeling of Jellyfish motion uses a Radau-type RK scheme; small world.

  2. Optimal Vortex Formation as a Unifying Principle in Biological Propulsion
    Abstract:I review the concept of optimal vortex formation and examine its relevance to propulsion in biological and bio-inspired systems, ranging from the human heart to underwater vehicles. By using examples from the existing literature and new analyses, I show that optimal vortex formation can potentially serve as a unifying principle to understand the diversity of solutions used to achieve propulsion in nature. Additionally, optimal vortex formation can provide a framework in which to design engineered propulsions systems that are constrained by pressures unrelated to biology. Finally, I analyze the relationship between optimal vortex formation and previously observed constraints on Strouhal frequency during animal locomotion in air and water. It is proposed that the Strouhal frequency constraint is but one consequence of the process of optimal vortex formation and that others remain to be discovered.