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Physics on the Mind July 28, 2009

Posted by gordonwatts in computers, physics.

It is conference season again. The big one coming up now is Lepton/Photon ‘09 (and yes, I will deeptalk it when it is done!). The run-up to a conference like this is a huge amount of work. The analyzers who are trying to submit analysis are all furiously putting finishing touches on the experiment. And everyone else in the collaboration is busy reviewing these analyses to make sure they don’t have mistakes!

I’m on one of the review boards. It is a lot of work – we regularly  get analysis notes that are more than 100 pages in length. As you can imagine, going over them with a fine-tooth comb is a lot of work. And Tevatron analyses are now getting extremely sophisticated. They have to in order to extract every last bit of value from the data rolling out of Fermilab.

I’m used to reading these by now. But I’m always impressed when I listen to other fellow reviewers at how often I miss things. So this time around I’m trying something new to organize my thoughts, comments, etc. A mind map. I’ve used this stuff in the past and found it most useful for organizing a brain-storming session. I’ve never tried to do something this detailed or careful with it before.

It turns out getting a mind map up with questions for the review the first time isn’t that hard:


The real test will come when I incorporate people’s answers back into this. Anyone else tried to do something like this before?

As far as the software I’m actually using. I once tried out MindManager from MindJet. I loved it because it was well integrated with my tablet (i.e. I could use my pen to think, which seems to be how my mind works). It does way more than I ever needed – and I didn’t like the price tag so much, either. So I’ve been using FreeMind – free and java based and not really well integrated with Windows, but it works.



1. Geoffrey van Wyk - August 13, 2009

Hi Gordon,

Have you tried The Brain mindmapping software (www.thebrain.com)? There is a free version.

2. Gordon Watts - August 13, 2009

I’d not. I’m download it now. It sounds like if I want to print out my map files I have to pay 150 bucks, which is too bad, but not crucial. I’ll try it out and try to post back after I’ve played a little. Thanks!

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