Saturday, January 16, 2010

Dr.Rada Mihalcea: 'Recipe for Happiness'

Mr. Barack Obama thanked Dr. Rada Mihalcea and 99 other Top Scientists last Thursday in a special White House ceremony: "These extraordinarily gifted young scientists and engineers represent the best in our country. With their talent, creativity, and dedication, I am confident that they will lead their fields in new breakthroughs and discoveries and help us use science and technology to lift up our nation and our world."

Rada's research is vast and delves deeply into artificial intelligence, natural language processing and other computer science areas. One of her papers I particularly find intricate is the one on Finding Happiness related to Blogposts, since "blog entries are nonetheless much closer to what people think, as compared to other forms of public expression."

The words we use can show our own degree of happiness and a language processing program can lead to revealing facts. The thorough study of 10,000 blogposts shows that:

- Wednesday is the saddest day of the week, while Saturday the happiest;

- at 9 pm we are the happiest, while at 12 pm the saddest;

- the happiest words: love; God; father; baby; books; new;

- the saddest words: goodbye; don't understand; I wish; I miss

So, one interesting conclusion is that "happiness in today's society occurs most often around novelty"

Finally, Rada's "Recipe for Happiness":

- Something new
- Lots of food that you enjoy
- your favourite drink
- an interesting social place

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sebastian Burduja: Union of Change

While being both a Stanford University graduate and a Harvard University post-graduate, Sebastian Burduja is a proactive young man, with great dreams for his career and country.

Interested in politics, public administration and business administration, Sebastian published his research on corruption in Romania quite early:
"The Romanian post-communist judicial system and police force have proved unsuccessful in tracking down and punishing corrupt behavior."

"Paradoxically, corrupt politicians are hierarchically above judges, and hence above the law. In the absence of effective deterrents and mechanisms of punishment, Romanian political elites have weak internal incentives to reduce corruption."

With such a clear insight and also accumulated experience and knowledge in time, Sebastian is currently running The Romanians Abroad Student Union aiming at creating a worldwide network of students and prospective students alike - how I wish this Union had been created when I studied abroad...

Bassam Gemayel: the 2 (K)No(w)s

I have met nothing but extremely smart Lebanese so far - and Bassam Gemayel is definitely one of them. Invited to make a speech at TEDxBucharest, Bassam - with exquisite accuracy - pinpointed the fundamental errors that lie at the foundation of the Romanian society:

- "I know": the problem with so many of us - young active Romanians - is that we know so much more than we do...or at least we think we know.

- "No": if we ever have a reaction to things, then the first one is a negation...In this way nothing is gonna change or change will be very slow - can we afford it?

One of Bassam's favourite lines seems to be Think Big and Act Small. With much more openness to listen to others and our own consciousness we could be more efficient and we could do so much more...