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I love optical illusions (like this and this and these), not just because they're fun, but also because they give us insights into how the brain processes sensory information.

The latest issue of the bi-annual, peer-reviewed journal about R, the R Journal, is now available for download.

Following on from Coursera's popular course introducing the R language, a new course on data analysis with R starts on January 22. The simply-titled Data Analysis course will provide practically-oriented instruction on how to plan, carry out, and communicate analyses of real data sets with R.

Twitter is emerging as an important medium for determining influence in many fields. Social ranking sites like Klout and Traackr include Twitter as a heavily-weighted component of their ranking algorithms, for example. Twitter isn't representative of the members of any field, but in areas where the members primarily engage online, it can be a useful proxy.

The R language provides many features in the language for selecting data from data frames: the "[" operator, logical functions, and utility functions like "subset". But if you know SQL (the query language ubiquitous in database systems), none of this is necessary. With the sqldf package, you can just pretend that your data frame is a database, and use SQL directly. 

Ever wondered what fire is made of? It can be considered to be a plasma: neither solid, liquid nor gas, but a rather a collection of energetic, ionized particles. Stripped of their electrons, these ionized particles give fire some interesting electrical properties:

 

Enjoy your weekend, and if you're spending it sitting by an open fire, you may be looking at it in a new way.

The most recent edition of the Revolution Newsletter is out. The news section is below, and you can read the full December edition (with highlights from this blog and community events) online. You can subscribe to the Revolution Newsletter to get it monthly via email.

Twitter has become a powerful medium for organizing and communicating with factions during popular uprisings: the crisis in Egypt, the uprising in Syria, the revolution in Iran, and other conflicts all around the world.

In case you missed them, here are some articles from November of particular interest to R users.

In the webinar "Real-Time Predictive Analytics with Big Data", I showed how R fits into a real-time production system.