Friday, May 22, 2009

Star Trek

So I saw the new Star Trek movie...

...and its really great.

Even with all the ridiculous lens flare.

Now, as someone who grew up on Star Trek I'll be the first to admit that the movie is really really different than the series its based on. By that I mean that anyone, from people who have never seen any Star Trek in their lives to people who speak Klingon, can enjoy it.

Granted, the story is a little ridiculous, but thats par for the course. Previous to this, the two best Star Trek movies have involved a battle over a life creating missile and an alien probe destroying earth as revenge for the extinction of humpback whales. For me, the point of Star Trek was not the story, but the characters and the world they lived in. Watching while growing up, I cared less about the strange alien worlds and moral allegories, and more about Kirk, Spock, McCoy (and Picard, Riker, and Data), and their awesome spaceship. On this front, the film succeeds amazingly.

Unlike previous versions of Star Trek, the characters have district personalities and motivations. The romance in the film works shockingly well, and the added characterization adds some much needed gravitas to the whole endeavor. Furthermore, the updated Star Trek universe is really something. Gone are the plushy carpeted bridges and engineering bays. They've been replaced by something that looks futuristic and, more importantly, looks built. Seriously, this is like all the best parts of Star Trek filtered through the aesthetics of Battlestar Galactica.

Being the gigantic Star Trek nerd that I am, I'd have to say that Wrath of Kahn still edges this out as the best Star Trek movie. However, if I'm being honest, I'd probably have to say that this is a better overall movie. The changes to Star Trek cannon only serve to make the movie better and provide many intriguing directions for future movies. If this is the first in a new franchise of Star Trek films, count me in. Highly recommended.

As a last word on this, here is the most dramatic sequence from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Compared to the new film, this just looks silly.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

You know you are a grad student when...

You get free dinner and bring this much food home with you.

I went with six other people and we all took home about this much food. Hurray for Stony Brook overspending on events no one shows up for.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


The production of The Man Who Killed Don Quixote is back on. Amazing.

The production of this movie has been so plagued with problems a documentary was made about it seven years ago.

Seriously, I can't believe production is back on. Between his various Mark Twain projects and The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, Terry Gilliam has just a ridiculous amount of troubled productions.


Continuing the theme of posting things related to my career aspirations when I was five years old, apparently new fossils of a common ancestor to both higher primates (yes, including humans) and lower primates (like Lemurs) has been discovered.

National Geographic has a nice article on the discovery here.

Setting the implications and validity of this particular discovery aside, this whole thing is really interesting from a scientific perspective. I'm not sure how the peer review process works in paleontology, but it's always strange to me to see scientific works with promotional websites. In addition to changing how scientific articles are read and distributed, the internet is also changing the way research is done and discoveries are promoted (even in psychology). Often it really seems like "anything goes."

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Not Terrible

US News & World Report just released "America's Best Graduate Schools 2010". Stony Brook has thirteen programs ranked in the top 50:

clinical psychology (9)

physician's assistant (11)
physics (23)
mathematics (24)
geology/earth science (28)
nursing-midwifery (29)
computer science (31)
political science (33)
sociology (41)
medical school-for primary care (45)
biological sciences (48)
chemistry (50)
psychology (50)

As someone whose research is essentially biological psychology with clinical applications, this is good news.


The Hubble Space Telescope is currently being serviced for the last time. Although the Hubble is projected to function for another five or so years, it'll soon be replaced by the James Webb Telescope and eventually the AT-LAST telescope. In many ways, it's the end of an era. Hopefully Project Constellation and the like will inspire a new generation of scientists (as well as science fiction writers) the same way the space shuttle and images from Hubble have.

I mean it's not neuroimaging or anything, but taking pictures that prove the expansion of the universe is still pretty neat. Here's hoping NASA eventually needs a cognitive neuroscientist.

Mission specialist Michael Massimino is twittering about the Hubble mission during his spare time... from the space shuttle. He's as awestruck and excited about being in space as one would expect. Basically, he sounds like he's having the time of his life. Check it out here.

Monday, May 18, 2009


It occurs to me that some of you might be interested in the research I'm doing at the moment.

I gave a talk a week or so ago in which I presented an introduction to the experiments I will be doing this summer. I made up some Powerpoint slides which are available here if anyone is interested. The intended audience was biopsych area people, but I made the slides with a broader audience in mind. Most of the slides also have notes that might (but probably won't) clarify things a bit.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


While looking up links for my last post I found that there is an absolutely absurd amount of Godzilla related stuff on youtube. I had no idea there were other people out there who loved this stuff as much as my family does.