FROM Conceptual Heaven to Analytical Hell and back: on the Specifications for Identifying and Counting Cancer Cells

English: Map of the CERN accelerator complex

English: Map of the CERN accelerator complex (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is a strange phenomenon, this process called thinking. Especially when it’s aided by software:
for it requires the rigour of Zen, combined with the freedom of right brain associations.

I know very well when I’m in conceptual heaven. I know it makes me happy to abstract, generalise and think up the right names for the right ideas.

And I know that I need to dive into analytical hell. For the devil is in the detail.
But splitting hairs, separating powers and issues has happened too much in the Western world.
Everything has been taken apart. Not enough has been put together again.
What I’d like to put together is the smartness of human perception
with the cleverness of computer processing or number crunching.

For when celebrating 50 years of computing @ CERN, I was introduced to Citizens CyberScience and www.zooniverse.org.
One of the projects is www.cellslider.net – the invitation for volunteers to classify images:
identify cancer cells and estimate their number.

Hey presto: an invitation to do better, the opportunity for automation!
And thus I was catapulted into conceptual heaven:
writing the spec for a coder to tell the machine what I’d like it to do for us.

For we, the people, can’t possibly do it: scan systematically and precisely,
pixel by pixel, compare and check, decide and proceed:
counting the good ones and the bad ones – just as Cinderella.

And now I wonder: will Prince Charming show up in the shape of Cancer Research UK?

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One thought on “FROM Conceptual Heaven to Analytical Hell and back: on the Specifications for Identifying and Counting Cancer Cells

  1. Master's Slave May 18, 2013 at 9:34 pm Reply

    I know this…don’t ask me how. I researched cancer once. The measure proteins in the urine. A test is done to light chain in the urine of the cancer victim. They divide cells and extract a single abnormal cell. Within the cell there are a number of proteins. Within the cell are the access of bad proteins and they are abnormal ones and determine if myeloma exists.

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