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 Many of these are not yet peer reviewed (and maybe never will be), so you can often find papers that are fun, pop culture based, or just plain crazy-pants (I’m going to suggest a search for papers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.
During my senior year of college I needed an interview suit. So I went shopping for one and looked at store that, to 21 year old me, said “business woman”. I ended up getting a brown suit (I wanted something different than black because everyone wore black, but now I look at it in the back of my closet and wonder what I was thinking) from Anne Taylor. At the time I thought it was a great ensemble that proclaimed “I am a serious adult”. But looking back, I realized that it looked like I was a young-looking 21 year old trying to dress like a middle ages lady.
Over the years my fashion sense has changed. Thankfully it’s not what it was in high school (plaid bondage pants, anyone?) or in undergrad. As I’ve tumbled through grad school I’ve gotten a better sense not only of my personal style, but also what my personal style is in a variety of settings and a much better idea of how to dress myself well and in a flattering manner. I know now that when I feel like I’m dressed well I am more confident and this is something that I plan to use to my advantage in talks, interview, and later throughout my career.
Because I do reflect on my personal style and how I present myself as a physicist, I often get frustrated when the discussion turns to advice on how to dress or when I’m around a lot of other physicists and observe what they are wearing. My biggest problem is that for women in academia, I feel like there is an attitude that dressing professionally means you either look like a frump or look very generic.