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 friday"

In lieu of a “Science Crush Friday” this week, I’m delcaring it “Italian Scientists” theme week. Why? Because I leave tomorrow for a two week vacation to Italy! So in addition to packing my eatin’ and wine drinkin’ pants, I’m getting ready for my trip by looking at some big names in science who hail from Italy.

First, let’s get historical. Did you know that the science of human anatomy pretty much started in Italy? If you didn’t, you do now. One of the early pioneers was this fellow: Bartolomeo Eustachi a.k.a. Eustachius. His greatest work, which went unpublished until way after his death due to the dear of the Vatican (which is surprising pro-science these days), was Anatomical Engravings, which showed detailed images of pretty much everything there is to see in the human body. Eustachius was the first to document many important body parts, including the inner ear (which is probably why his name rings a bell, Eustachian tubes are named after him) and adrenal glands.

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I hate that I’m having such a busy spring, so that sometimes my blog has to take a backseat to, well you know…me actually doing science. So this week’s Science Crush was the first answer that came into my head when I told myself to think of a hot scientist.

And the answer that came to me was paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant! Ok…if that name seems familiar, it’s because Dr. Grant isn’t a real paleontologist or a real scientist. He’s Sam Neill’s character fromJurrasic Park.But just because he’s fictional, doesn’t mean he’s not science crush worthy. I mean, look at this glamour shot.

His eyes are pretty much smoldering as if to say “You know you want to see me in only this red bandana.”

And you can’t discount the fact that most of us who have seenJurrasic Parkdid manage to learn a thing or two about dinosaurs from this handsome, slightly older yet still foxy gentleman. I mean, his science was way better than John Hammond’s, who came up with the realistically unachievable idea of splicing dinosaur DNA into frog DNA and actually getting dinosaurs out of the transaction.

Time for an action shot! (Also, how could I make a post involving Jurrasic Park and not have at least one dinosaur.) Notice how Dr. Grant shows no fear in the path of a lethal velociraptor.

And all that courage, well couple it with a sexy British accent. I’ll listen to him tell me how dinosaurs are going to kill me all night long.

Last but not least, just because it’s awesome…here’s the “Velociraptors will kill you dead” speech.

"Try to imagine yourself in the Cretaceous Period. You get your first look at this "six foot turkey" as you enter a clearing. He moves like a bird, lightly, bobbing his head. And you keep still because you think that maybe his visual acuity is based on movement like T-Rex - he’ll lose you if you don’t move. But no, not Velociraptor. You stare at him, and he just stares right back. And that’s when the attack comes. Not from the front, but from the side, from the other two ‘raptors you didn’t even know were there. Because Velociraptor’s a pack hunter, you see, he uses coordinated attack patterns and he is out in force today. And he slashes at you with this… a six-inch retractable claw, like a razor, on the the middle toe. He doesn’t bother to bite your jugular like a lion, say… no no. He slashes at you here… or here… or maybe across the belly, spilling your intestines. The point is… you are alive when they start to eat you. So you know… try to show a little respect."

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.

So I was feeling kind of crappy this morning and my plan orginally was to phone in Science Crush Friday this week with some gratuitous Neil deGrasse Tyson pictures, because I will never get tired of astronomy’s big, chocolate bear.

But then an internet friend of mine posted this article about an MIT professor who uses computational data analysis to study music. And I have to say, computational data analysis is pretty darn scientific.

Now, I was a bit skeptical at first, because I’ve been to some talks recently on the intersection of data and music/art, and they’ve all seemed to focus on people who use data to make something interesting artistically. The end products, however, seem to be divorced from the data in that you don’t learn something about the data from experiences about the art. And when I think of the intersection of data/science and art, I want the art to reflect the science, dammit!

Today’s science crush is MIT professor Michael Scott Cuthbert. He gets this honor because he has made me rethink the relationship between data analysis and music. Also, take a gander at this fellow.

Not a bad looking guy at all! And he kind of reminds me of Ross from Friends, but the smile makes him seem less neurotic.

But what really makes him crush-worthy is how cool his work is. But before I go into this, a disclaimer: For a physicist, I am a pretty bad programmer, and as far as music goes, I’ve just started learning about it, so my understanding of his work is more on the level of “SO COOL!!! It’s part music, part science, and part magic!” rather than “Oh, I appreciate the nuance of this code and how you can apply it to major chords.”

For starters, check out this awesome piece of data analysis. It takes a serial music piece (which, to anyone who likes science and math is a cool thing itself) and it able to map out a relationship between note pitches, duration, and how much they occur in the music. I wouldn’t be able to tell you what this means about the Messiaen piece, but I can appreciate learning about different styles of music by looking at musical data in a visual form. Hell, this is how I learn about current research in my field, through lots of plots!

Analysis like this can be applied to track musical trends not just on a piece-by-piece basis but throughout history! He’s like a musical archaeologist! And he can use his code to help learn things about lost music from hundreds of years ago! Michael Scott Cuthbert is a musical Indiana Jones! (As opposed to Indiana Jones: The musical, which doesn’t exist but would be amazing.)

(I’m not too great with Photoshop, either.)


This just in! More proof that Michael Scott Cuthbert is music’s Indiana Jones.

Today I was introduced, well not personally introduced, to an entomologist named May Berenbaum, a science crush of my good friend Katie.

Dr. Berebaum specializes in studying the chemical goings-on between insects and their host plants. But the simply fact that she is willing to get that close to a box of bees shows that she kicks ass.

She also is passionate about teaching and science literacy, and if you’ve been keeping track of scientists I admire, this is a way they move to the top of the list. She was awarded for her efforts with the 2009  Public Understanding of Science and Technology Award from AAAS. She has won the 2011 Tyler Prize for her research, which is an amazing accomplishment in the environmental sciences.

But Dr. Berebaum isn’t all work and no play. She also has a great sense of humor and uses it to write a column called Buzzwords in American Entomologist magazine (I’d subscribe but the articles would probably give me nightmares because most insects scare me). For the faint of heart (like me), those columns have been collected into a book, which has recently been added to my “must read” list.

What really clinched a Science Crush title, however, isn’t just all May’s accomplishments. It was the fact that SHE HAS AN X-FILES CHARACTER BASED ON HER! I’m a huge X-Files fan and if I could possible go back in time, become a famous physicist, and have a character modeled on me, my life would be complete. And not only that, but the character, Dr. Bambi Berenbaum, GETS TO HAVE ROMANTIC FLIRTATIONS WITH AGENT MULDER! It’s everything teenage me wants in life.


From the beginning of Science Crush Friday, I knew that Carl Sagan would be an obvious choice for the honor.

Now, I could gush about reasons why: his amazing efforts as popularizing science, his super cool with with NASA and SETI, which include sending a plaque into space as a guide for any other species it encounters, his posthumous career as an auto-tuned superstar singing about science (really, go check out Symphony of Science, now!). But I’ve decided to make Carl Sagan my Science Crush this week because the man is just so damn dreamy.

Seriously, just look at this photo:

This looks like it should be in Bop or Tiger Beat circa the mid 70’s. He looks like he wants to pick you up and take you on on a nice dinner where he listens to you talk while watching you attentively with those inqusitive eyes and charming smile. Then afterwards, instead of taking you home, you’d participate in some harmless mischief by climbing a water tower to gaze at the stars while Carl tells you about what you’re seeing in the night sky. (In my imaginary date, you could also replace him with Neil deGrasse Tyson, but I think he’d take you to a park or the beach rather than get you to climb a water tower.)

And look at young Carl Sagan:

Don’t you want to let him take you to prom and then Lookout Point? I do! Heck, I’d bet you’d stop at the soda shop first and get ice cream floats but he would totally have some bourbon to pour in them. That’s my kind of teenage physicist.

So today’s crush is not who you think of when you think of a traditional scientists (also, she’s actually a mathematician). My sci-crush started out as an actress and then went to school for math. Now she brings glamor to the mathematics community and works towards making math more accessible to teen and pre-teen girls.

Science Crush Friday presents:


Most popularly known as Winnie Cooper from The Wonder Years, Danica McKellar is a role model of mine. (She was also in Sidekicks, which stared my very first crush, Jonathan Brandis…cue slight embarrassment) With a mathematical background she has made it a mission to get younger girls to have confidence and succeed in math. To this end, she has written several books: Math Doesn’t Suck, Kiss My Math, and Hot X: Algebra Exposed. I would love to be able to one day write books like this with physics in mind. I just wonder if my titles can be as catchy.

Not only that, but Danica has a theory with her name on it: the Chayes–McKellar–Winn theorem! How hot and awesome is that!?

Another reason Danica McKellar is a sci-crush: just look at her! She is one smokin’ mathematician and educator. If anyone completely explodes the stereotype of what a mathematician looks like, it’s her. And for that and her outreach and education, Danica McKellar is my science crush.

Not only is it Science Crush Friday, but this is the first blog-reader submitted one (Thanks, Katy!). How exciting!

So without further ado, let me present these two stud muffin physicists.

Please meet Steve and Jason. Steve is a former member of my department, having obtained his PhD working in ultrafast optics. He worked in a group that used ultrashort laser pulses to study molecular processes by basically exploding molecules and observing them. Pretty rad. He now works in industry and unfortunately for all the single ladies, Steve is not only married, but married with twins.

Jason is currently getting his PhD in nuclear physics and works at the RHIC accelerator at Brookhaven National Lab. When he’s not busy doing that, he is pretty much the Zack Morris of the physics and astronomy department (minus the acid wash jeans). He loves the beach, parties, and always knows how to have a good time. Not to mention his knack for creative ways to get out of trouble!

Do you have a science crush? Let me know!

Also: next week, it’s time to show off some awesome Lady Science Crushes.