Program of 2nd Offtopicarium

Summaries and further readings

  1. Gifted education - Marcin Kotowski, Piotr Migdał
    Why is it important to help ones that are the most able? How to teach and mentor ones that may be smarter than you? How to harness natural curiosity and natural passion? What to avoid at all cost? And why is it so fulfilling? Based on our experience with preparing workshops for Krajowy Fundusz na rzecz Dzieci (Polish Children's Fund) and running Wakacyjne Warsztaty Wielodyscyplinarne (Summer Scientific School).
  2. How to make a palindromic limerick? - Jan Szejko
    As for now, no proper palindromic limerick exists (you can google some improper ones). And I want to change it! My aim is Polish, but my method may be translated to other languages. I didn’t manage to do it before the talk, but I told about my method. The main idea is using software support based on finite state automata.
  3. Towards mathematical understanding of intelligence - Vadim Kosoy
    Even though the idea of Artificial Intelligence goes back at least to the 1950s, there is still no widely accepted rigorous definition of what counts for “intelligence”. Arguably most of the work in the field focused on heuristics. However, some recent progress instills hope that the mathematical theory of intelligence is about to be born. Such a theory would have profound philosophical consequences that go far beyond “classical” computer science
  4. Keep on rockin' in the Tea World - Maciej Malinowski
    Presumably you drink tea - but how much do you know about it?
  5. Modern Iran - Wojtek Ganczarek
    You probably know that Iran is not Iraq. But quite a lot of people do not. Anyway, probably also for you the first association with this country is “terrorism” or “atomic bomb”. During my talk I tried to convince the audience that this is - to say the least - not true.
  6. Procedural content generation (PDF) - Paweł Marczewski
    Not everything in a computer game can, or should, be created in advance. In the talk, I explained why procedural content generation can be useful in many situations. I also showed a few examples - simple mathematical methods that can be used to produce an endless variety of plants, caverns, mountains, clouds…
  7. Mahjong (PDF) - Paweł Marczewski
    A short talk about the fascinating game of Mahjong - the real one, known as the "Asian poker", not the solitaire. I explained its basic principles, tried to show what it feels like to play the game (what elements of randomness, skill, balance etc. are involved) and talked a bit about the history of the game.
  8. Psychopy - Piotr Iwaniuk
    I will talk about Psychopy. It is an open source framework for creating psychological experiments. It is also a project we develop at Titanis. I will present what new features I have added to the application. At the end I will tell why I think open source is cool and psychologists should learn programming.
  9. Music of the lagers - Philharmonic Orchestra of Auschwitz-Birkenau - Joanna Borowska
    Why did orchestras, photo labs and brothel exist in Nazi camps? A brief introduction to the functioning of a class society in Auschwitz based on quotations. (Presentation of a “black market services” [ex. standing in a line to the toilet] price list where the prices were given in cigarettes, the most lucrative prisoners’ businesses and description of the camp fashion included).
  10. What can Hippocrates learn from Darwin? - Natalia Derus
    You and me and all living organisms are a result of billion years of evolution. All our and pathogens features have evolutionary background. We, humans, know about it in contrast to viruses, bacteria etc. and we can use this knowledge as a weapon (or rather shield). A little about population genetics, (un)cool mutations, allergies and human stupidity.
  11. The global energy market (PPTX) - Pavel Radzivilovsky
    Since the invention of the steam engine, much of modern civilization is about harvesting energy and making it work for us. Transportation, water pumping, street lights and computing data centers are very different examples of hungry consumers that shaped the global power grid. Yet, the current power market situation is merely a hack. Many changes and innovations will be required to produce sustainable energy for both stationary and mobile consumers.
  12. My favorite engine designs - Pavel Radzivilovsky
    A presentation of my favorite engine designs, including the original Otto cycle ICE, the Diesel cycle, Wankel, Gnome, Jet, Atkinson-Miller, Stirling and some exotic power production schemes.
  13. Build your body with your brain, idiot! - Piotr Suwara
    Human lifestyle has changed dramatically over last centuries, and even decades. Human body, which was designed to deal with quite a large amount of movement (walking, hunting etc.) suffers from all-day-long sitting, both during work and leisure time. In the talk I wanted to show that not only it is useful to keep it fit, but also that the way our body works is complex and suprising, and getting to understand it is an interesting and rewarding task.
  14. Physicist on the stock market - Grzegorz Link
    The stock market, forex, the financial world of investing, speculating - they all have a very bad reputation these days. And throughout history. Yet, a young field of scientific inquiry - econophysics - is pursuing the understanding of the financial markets just for about 30 years or so. I tried to share my excitement about the topic of investing, and explain why I believe a group of talented, science-minded individuals could achieve spectacular things there - not only to the benefit of themselves, but also to the benefit of others.
  15. Wymysiöeryś - Bartłomiej Chromik
    We usually associate dying languages with remote, tropical or even exotic „areas”. I would like to present You wymysiöeryś, the language that is used only in one town at the border of historical Little Poland and Silesia, near Bielsko-Biała. Despite the fact that before World War II it was used by the vast majority of inhabitants of settlement, right now only 50 people use it. I am going to say a few words about the history of the language, present the epic ethnotheory of origin of wymysiöeryś and try to convince You that the language will not necessarily fall into oblivion.
  16. A few words on social identity - Olga Pokorska
    Why do we want to belong to groups and what are the psychological consequences? What happens when social category distinctions are salient? Finally, do we perceive ingroup and outgroup members differently? We are also going to take a closer look at various strategies of reducing prejudice and improving intergroup relations.
  17. Beauty and the beast - Maciej Malinowski
    The talk was about beauty and stereotypes associated with it. What does it mean to be beautiful? Why/when attractive people have easier life? I described how some researchers argue that associating positive qualities with beautiful people is not a perception bias, but rather a recognition of real state of affairs. We finished with some remarks about political correctness in science.
  18. - international opportunities for Polish students - Andrzej Nowojewski (slides)
    Over the last decade large higher educational markets have opened up for Polish high school and university students: with EU accession the price tag of British universities has fallen significantly and the needs-blind admissions to prestigious US colleges have made the American higher education not only affordable but often cheaper than its Polish alternative. However, the awareness about these options was much slower to come to Poland and still today the fact of cost-free Harvard education raises eyebrows. This talk will explore reasons behind this phenomenon and showcase attempts to spread awareness.
  19. A few reflection on the condition of science - Marcin Ziemniak
    Nowadays, there is a lot of concern about the condition of science. Generally speaking the funds on research are more limited, thus projects are expected to be more applicative, basic science is not as “hot” as it used to be earlier. Since the main emphasis is put on publication the findings as fast as possible, quite often the data are of minor quality or the results are not reproducible. During the talk I will try to provide some information about mentioned problems and several related issues. Because I spent some time in USA recently, the attention will be focused on american science.
  20. Find a way or make one! - Adam Zadrożny
    The talk will focus on career development and different ways to shape it. A few case studies.
  21. Scientific foundations of music theory - Dima Potekhin
    "Most music theory books are like medieval medical textbooks: they contain unjustified superstition, non-reasoning, and funny symbols glorified by Latin phrases." - Daniel S. Wilkerson In this talk I'll attempt to give a basic Mathematical, Physical, Physiological and Cognitive basis to music and attempt to explain why certain musical structures (such as the major scale) sound “better” or more “natural” than others.
  22. Jacek Kaczmarski never dies - Staszek Krawczyk
    A brief note on the Polish poet-singer whose pieces I performed during the Offtopicarium. Focused on the best known song by Kaczmarski, "Mury" ("Walls").

(some presentations, visible in black, are without slides or summaries - those participants procrastinated too much to put their work here)

Create an extended summary of your talk:


<20min + 15min for a discussion.

Education and gender disparity in Tanzania, Ewa Infeld

Tanzania is a poor but peaceful country where people dream big. With its neighbours torn by religious conflicts and double digit HIV infection rates, it’s an oasis of stability. The country’s beloved leader Julius Nyerere, who negotiated its independence in the fifties and stayed in power for the next 20-odd years was a teacher, and so a teacher’s profession is one of prestige. All secondary education happens in English. A sign at the gate of a school says “Speak English”, over the door - “Education is Power”.

Death over Holocene - the science of death and decay (40-60 min) Emilia Jarochowska

Many geologists, some biologists, and even a couple of chemists try to employ living creatures to reconstruct and simulate the fossil record. The science of what gets preserved and what doesn’t is called taphonomy. I will show you the taphonomist’s toolbox – from sticking needle electrodes into rotting fish through accidently exploding whales, eating echinoid gonads and, yes, organizing snail races. This will be a review of methods and ideas, but also an opportunity to present a truly interdisciplinary problem.

Jacek Kaczmarski never dies, Staszek Krawczyk

A mini-recital, something like this.
[Staszek: one more thing – the songs would mostly be in Polish, although I may try to put in one or two English pieces by another author, like Leonard Cohen]

In other words, (workshop) Ola Pokorska

I will say a few words about different forms of communication, created for people with disabilities. We’ll take a look at alphabets, gestures and symbols, very different from those that we’re used to. We will surely use sign language or maybe even try to carry a workshop without any spoken words?

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