Sara Does Science

Sporatically posting thoughts and amusements from a pretty rad (if I don't say so myself) lady physicist.
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Posts tagged "science crush"

I have definitely been slacking off on Science Crush Fridays lately. I partially blame the summer, where I got a little lazy concerning most things. Then I got distracted by applying for teaching jobs, so over the last few weeks almost all of my writing efforts have gone into that. But now I’m back…hopefully with a vengeance…of if not vengeance then with cheerful enthusiasm!

This week’s science crush has earned her title because she is one fiesty lady. How do I know this? Well a quick Google image search of science crush Rosie Redfield will bring up pictures of her with hair in various shades of violets and pinks. She introduces her research on her twitter (@RosieRedfield) by simply asking “Do bacteria have sex?”. Not to mention that Dr. Redfield is known for outspokenly combating bad science or issues detrimental to the scientific community, which has earned her the nickname of Tyrant Queen of Science. Seriously, the bad-ass-ity of that nickname alone is enough to make her a science crush.

Before we go into specifics, let’s take a moment to enjoy Dr. Redfield’s hair:


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This week’s Science Crush (or more appropriately crushes) is the world’s first particle physics rock group, Les Horribles Cernettes! And that’s not their only claim to fame. Does the picture below look familiar? If it does, that’s probably because it was the first ever photograph uploaded to the internet way back in 1992.

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Maybe you think I’ve finally lost it and are wondering why the guy from M*A*S*H (or 30 Rock or The West Wing or a ton of other stuff) is this week’s Science Crush. But keep reading…
Alan Alda (born Alphonso D’Abruzzo…which has kind of a sexy Italian sound to it if you say it right) has, for the  been at the forefront of communicating science, hosting Scientific American Frontiers on PBS and helping to create the Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University (which is awesome because that’s where I am!).
Lately he’s been making the rounds discussing the Flame Challenge, which is an awesome and inspiring competition that Alan founded. If you haven’t heard of it, the premise is that scientists were asked to explain what a flame is to 11-year-olds. It may sound simple, but I can tell you, this is no easy task. Scientists have brought their A-games in terms of creativity, submitting videos, cartoons, and wonderful explanations. 
Here’s Mr. Alda on The Colbert Report discussing the challenge and just being an all-around charmer. 

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I was thinking about who my next science crush should be and I realized it’s been a while since I’ve saluted vintage scientists. Then I realized that there is no better choice for this week’s Science Crush than the one-and-only Hedy Lamarr.

"But wait…", you might be saying to yourself, "Wasn’t Hedy Lamarr an old Hollywood actress?" Why, yes she was. But that’s far from all. She was also an inventor whose big idea helped paved the way for the future of communication.

Personally, I love that Hedy Lamarr is someone who absolutely mixed brains and beauty. I think that most people have a very drab or nerdy stereotype come to find when they think of who scientists or inventors are. (Either that or they think of Doc Brown from Back to the Future.) I love that Hedy is someone who represents that fact that I think science is amazing and provocative and yes, even sexy.

(Yes…all lady scientists are this glamorous. Would you expect anything less?)

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Dr. Mae Jemison isn’t so much a Science Crush as she is someone who I am completely in awe of. Prior to a little research, I knew Dr Jemison was an astronaut and an advocate for science education and underrepresented minorities in STEM fields. But when I checked out her full biolography, I swear this women is one of the most accomplished people on the planet.

The Dr. in front of Mar Jemison’s name isn’t just for show. She was first educated as a medical doctor and went onto serve in the Peace Corp. Both of those those things require a way stronger stomach and way more toughness than I possess.

You think that might be enough of an accomplishment for someone’s life. After all, it takes a lot of work to become a doctor and you do a lot for other people through the Peace Corps. But for Dr. Jemison, that wasn’t enough. So apparently the next step was to become an astronaut. Why? Because of Star Trek. Seriously. (Because of her fandom she even got to star in an episode.)

She officially went into space on theEndeavorin 1992. It gave her a chance to rock these short shorts like I’m sure no other astronaut ever has.

Going into space is cool and everything, but it just wasn’t enough for Dr. Jemison. This just shows how amazing she is. Most people would say “Oh, I went to space, that’s enough accomplishment for this life” but not Mae.  Post-NASA she founded her own company to research and develop technology for everyday life. Yes, NASA was too passe for her, so she founded a company for new ideas and inventions.

She also founded an international science camp for children, an educational excellence program in honor of her mother, and a medical device company. In her spare time, Dr. Jemison dances, is a college professor, and speaks four languages (and hard ones, too: aside from English there’s Russian Swahili, and Japanese). And she pretty much looks like a model.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Dr. Mae Jemison goes well beyond the qualifications of a normal science crush. And while looking at all her of amazing attributes may have left me feeling a bit unaccomplished as I sit on my couch writing this in my pajamas, I’m glad that there are scientists out there like her.

Don’t think I’ve forgotten Science Crush Friday. These last few weeks I’ve just been either exhausted at beamtime or cruising around the American Museum of Natural History (sadly, without a Neil deGrasse Tyson spotting…a girl can dream).

But now Science Crush Friday is back with a bang, a big one. Which is a terrible pun considering today’s science crush isn’t a cosmologist. Nope. Today’s Science Crush is evolutionary biologist Neil Shubin.

In case you couldn’t tell, in the above photo, Shubin is the foxy salt-and-pepper scienctist, not the fish fossil. And by fish fossil, I mean that Dr. Shubin is the discoverer of one of the most important finds in evolutionary biology: tiktaalik roseae! For those of you unfamiliar with tiktaalik, it’s a major fossil find from a period where fish were transitioning from being what we traditionally think of as fish, to creatures capable of walking on four limbs. (Also, check out the beard. I am a sucker for a well kept yet not too immaculate beard.)

Dr. Shubin studies the evolutionary origin of anatomical features. This includes how what were once fish fins turned into limbs and how ear bones come from jellyfish genes through the magic (ok…what a terrible word for a science blog) of evolution!

In addition to doing science, Dr. Shubin also writes about it. He is the author of Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5 Billion Year History of the Human Body. This book traces the evolutionary origins of the human body and explains that our parts once came from, well, fish parts, generally speaking of course. 

But Dr. Shubin isn’t just brains and bearded hansomeness. Along with his boyish good looks, he has wit and charm that, let’s be honest here, not all scientists possess. If you don’t believe me, see how he holds up against Stephen Colbert:

I’ve been a busy bee at beamtime this week. This has involved making an awesome purple plasma. growing thin films, and then beaming them with x-rays. And it is as cool as you think. But in all this, I left my list of Science Crushes at my home lab. So this week, I’ve improvised, which is an important skills at beamtime because things never go 100% right.

That all means that this week’s Science Crush is my friend and labmate Lukas. Why Lukas? Well, some science crushes so amazing science, some are great communicators, other are fascinating individuals. Lukas not only has all these qualities, but he’s also a good-looking guy, which you might argue is the most traditional reason for a “crush” designation. (That and he brought me chocolate today.)

Why, here he is now…

Lukas is a master’s student from Germany. (Sexy accent alert!) Not only does he study physics, but he knows how to have a good time. I can personally attest that Lukas is quite the dancer and will happily spend a party out on the floor, showing off his moves, which is honestly a rare quality for a physicist.

In his free time, Lukas is most often found either reading a play or preparing to act in one. He has also admitted that he enjoys singing opera, especially in the shower. Now let’s see if I can get him to join me for karaoke!

And for one more lovely picture, here is the man himself doing some experimental physics. When was a last time you saw a lab coat look this good?

When I drove to my lab this morning I spend my drive convinced it was Sunday. So I forgot for a while that it’s Science Crush Friday. I blame this on the chest cold I seem to be coming down with. But I won’t let that deprive you of some science hotness. So since I’m kind of out-of-it, I decided to just show some gratuitous pictures of Neil deGrasse Tyson being the world’s sexiest astrophysicist. Seriously, People actually named him that once.

First, there’s this classic:

I like to think he’s sweaty because he was just out on a dance floor showing off some fantastic moves.

Next up is another young Neil picture, where he demonstrates the rarely seen sideburns-into-moustache.

And last, but not least…

Look at those eyes! Also, he’s a funny and intelligent man.

First, sorry for the absense of a science crush for last Friday. I was at the American Physical Society March Meeting all week and Friday I traveled home, so I was both busy and exhausted.

Now, onto the good stuff.

Being a scientist, I interact with a lot of scientists on a regular basis. But when I was younger, I was much more familiar with fictional scientists. I’m sure this is true for many people whose lives don’t involve science on a daily basis. So I’m branching out my science crushes into the world of fiction this week to show a scientist that inspired me when I was younger. (And it’s not Indiana Jones. I’m saving him for when I’m in the mood for sappiness and more terrible photoshops.)

This week’s Science Crush is…


Now, you might say, “but Agent Scully isn’t a scientist, she’s an FBI agent.” Well, friend, that’s when I’d say you’re mistaken.

Way before Agent Scully was partnered up with dreamboat Agent Mulder, she started off her academic career with a physics major. In fact, her senior thesis was on Einstein’s Twin Paradox where she wrote how time travel was possible on a quantum level. (For a nerd-tastic good time, see the entry on it on the X-Files wiki.)  She then went on to study and teach forensic medicine. If I stopped her bio here, you would definitely agree that Dana Scully fits the definitely of a scientist pretty well.

With that covered…onto the X-Files years!

Agent Scully was teamed up with Agent Mulder to act as a skeptic and foil to his out-there conspiracy theories and investigations. She was basically asked to be both a scientist and a baby sitter, applying rationality and a generalized scientific method to their investigations. I know that may make your scratch your head at my reasoning, but hear me out. Scully, unlike Mulder, never went into an investigation with an idea of what she expected to conclude. She would observe the goings-on and first try to come up with rational conclusions. Sometimes she ended up being right, and sometimes it really ended up being a sewer monster or aliens. But she was, in general, scientific about it!

Ok…since there are more words to come, here’a a gratuitous picture of Agent Scully giving some fierce face.

Now back to science!

At the end of the series, Scully got less skeptical about aliens, weird stuff, and the what not. But I don’t credit this to her being a bad scientist. Just the opposite! I think that if she were to ignore all the evidence about conspiracies and extra terrestrials, that would make her a bad scientist. But instead, she took new evidence (data, if you will) and used that to form her conclusions, rather than ignoring new evidence in order to hold her her previously held ideas. Now that’s science!

So here I’ve demonstrated that Dana Scully was a good scientist. But what goes above and beyond that to make her my Science Crush? Well, I have to admit, The X-Files is one of my favorite shows ever, so she’s a girl-crush, scientist or now. Also, she got to…uhhh…have relations (keeping it PG here) with Agent Mulder! Also, she is smart and kicks ass both figuratively and literally in the show. She’s a great pop-culture role model because she has brains and beauty without exploiting the latter.

When you add all this up, I think Agent Dana Scully makes an awesome Science Crush!

And with that conclusion, one more picture…this time with more David Duchovny!

(Seriously, watching them spoon in the second X-Files movie made me so satisfied about life. Also, it made me all mushy feeling and a little jealous.)

Note to science guys: These lines will only work on me if you are Nicola Tesla. That is all.

(via naomaly)