Wednesday, January 23, 2008

all in the name of science

For the past few months, Joe has been working on a project for measuring post-surgical outcomes of eyelid surgery.  There's probably a lot more to this that I don't understand, but the gist of it is that he is writing a computer program that measures the symmetry between the right and left eyelids, presuming that more symmetry is a better cosmetic outcome, and that less symmetry indicates a worse outcome.  I have no idea how he is able to create this computer program--he's actually writing all the code himself, having some background in programming prior to starting med school--but it looks exceedingly complicated and involves reading books like this:

...which indicates that the things I don't understand I will continue to not understand.

Anyway, someday this program will be applied to actual patients, but in the meantime, to amass a databank, Joe is measuring the eyelid symmetry of people with known aesthetically pleasing results, be they artificial or natural. Basically, Joe is combing through movie star pictures in People, US Weekly, and various fashion magazines, picking out good full-face head shots and measuring the eyelid symmetry for each of these people. He has separate files on each star: Lindsey Lohan, Cameron Diaz, Angelina Jolie, what have you. Each one is scanned and measured and becomes a filed series of data points. For this part of the study, Joe says, he is excluding males, as they will require their own separate data pool. So lately, now that the coding is done, this is what Joe is doing every night. Looking at pictures of ladies and doing eyelid measurement data entry for this project.

A few weeks ago, walking up behind Joe on his computer, I saw him assiduously working on a file he had named "Halle Berry Symmetry Study." And it occurred to me that I was probably the only wife in the universe who could see the name of that file, accompanied by all those pictures, and not assume that their spouse was using this all as a gigantic and elaborately constructed window-dressing for porn.

Frankly, despite all the Pascal and C++ computer mumbo jumbo, I'm still not totally convinced.