Tuesday nights are Ladies’ Night, at least in my department. For the past give years, the women graduate students have been organizing weekly get-togethers so we can bond over a few beers. For me, these nights have been invaluable because I’ve made new friends, gotten great advice about courses, research, and careers, and had a lot of interesting discussion about women in physics (and astronomy, too!). We’ve talked about professors, weddings, drag queens, gynecologists, which (if any) professors in the department we consider handsome, post-docs, having kids, board games and lately we’ve let some of the guys from the department in on our fun.
Good thing I don’t have any nieces/nephews/offspring because they would have been pushed aside for my new favorite kid. Meet Sylvia Todd, hostess of Sylvia’s Super-Awesome Maker Show, who was recently profiled in the New York Times. She’s an 11 year old who loves electronics, crafts, and science. Her parents help her put together a really fun web series where she demonstrates how to make different projects.
Here’s her most popular show: how to etch copper to make both jewelry and circuit boards. This puts my childhood Perler bead and paint by numbers projects to shame.
Sylvia also does a really great job of explaining some of the engineering and scientific principles behind her projects. Check out this video where she makes a strobe light and a finger flute for an Arduino. I just watched it with my lab mates and we all learned something new about circuitry. Also, she uses puppets to explain different parts of the circuit. PUPPETS! And they are super cute and hand drawn and also very funny.
At 11 years old, this girl is already a fantastic role model. If I have kids they better turn out like her!
Know the musical Mamma Mia? It’s a delightful jukebox-musical based on Abba songs and some Maury Povich style paternity hijinks. It’s also one of my biggest guilty pleasures. Approximately 1 to 3 times a year I open a bottle of white wine, drink most of it, and sing along. Once while doing this, I got the brilliant idea that since all three actors playing potential baby-daddies had different hair and eye colors, I could use Punnett Squares and some basic probability to get to the bottom of this investigation. But because I was kind of drunk I got a bit lost along the way. So after another entertaining viewing last night (where I realized that not only have I memorized all the songs by now but all the dialog, too!) I decided to revisit my quest.
As a disclaimer: I am well aware that this is not high quality genetics by any means. But hey, my Ph.D. is in condensed matter experiment and Mrs. Kenny’s eighth grad science class was the last time I studied anything about inheriting genetic traits. And now that my necessary “I am not a geneticist” statement is out of the way…let’s go!
Many of you reading this may be familiar with ArXiv.org and many of you may not be. ArXiv is an open access library where scientists, mostly of the physics, math and computer science varieties, put up papers or pre-prints for all the world to see. Many of these are not yet peer reviewed (and maybe never will be), so you can often find papers that are fun, pop culture based, or just plain crazy-pants (I’m going to suggest a search for papers with the word “god” in the title here.) Since I like to turn to ArXiv when I have some downtime and want to explore the lighter side of science, I thought I’d share some of my favorite findings here.
If you want to join in the fun, many of my most fruitful searches come from me poking around in the “General Physics”, “Popular Physics”, and “History and Philosophy of Physics”. You can see the week’s most recent submissions under each category.
So without further ado, here’s a round-up of some fun papers from this past week.