Give Me Things to Make Me Go

Wednesday, December 17, 2008
One of the blogs I read on a regular basis is called "Cosmic Variance." It's a group blog written by physicists, astronomers and other big brains, and I started reading it shortly after my Smart Boy expressed a serious interest in physics as a career.

Sort of a confluence of Nerd Love and Parental Pride.

Most of the time I really enjoy it. And occasionally they make me feel like a Pakled to their Geordi La Forge.

Take this entry on "Making Your Integrals Dimensionless." The lovely Julianne Dalcanton waxes poetic about "the rate of photoionizations per volume" and boldly asserts that this equation is "something you can wrap your brain around:"


Dr. Dalcanton may be able to wrap her brain around this equation, but when I try it, gray matter leaks out of my ears and I start to think the Smart Boy is a lot smarter than I thought.

And clearly, I'm turning into a Pakled. I am smart, and I am strong! I look for things!

11 comments:

Shawn Powers said...

Gawd I love that episode. It's one of the few that Donna will quote too.

John the Scientist said...

I started to try to do that final integral in my head and hit a wall. So I'm glad she said this, too:

"although in this case, it’s actually not a trivial integration, but at least you can recognize that early and plan on how to deal with it"

And commenter Vishal is the type of "mine is bigger than yours" physics geek that gives us all a bad name.

I'm glad she put him in his place:

"Your comment indicates that this is something that has perhaps never happened to you, in which case, congratulations."

Heh.

Wendy said...

When my brother did his multiple Thesis projects, the most I understood was the dedication to his wife. One was something about a "Naughty Neutron" that tended to misbehave under certain conditions. Huh?

Brother, by the way, is Dr-Phil-Physics, who is a physics professor in real life.

WendyB_09

Janiece Murphy said...

Shawn, any episode that the lovely Donna will quote must be good.

Janiece Murphy said...

Wendy, we know and love Dr. Phil.

He used one of our troll smack-downs as an example in one of his classes.

Wendy said...

He is, if nothing else, a creative professor!!

WendyB_09

Nathan said...

I have to admit the title of this post made me think you were soliciting laxatives. I totally thought we had leapt the T.M.I. wall.

Nathan said...

Hey Janiece,

I don't know if you noticed or not, but your 'recent comments' section on the sidebar seems to be stuck in August.

Janiece Murphy said...

Nathan, my "recent comments" is updating appropriately.

Is anyone else having trouble?

vince said...

I'm not seeing any problem with your "recent comments." Perhaps Nathan's computer has become a Pakled.

And I loved that post. I'm rusty on my calculus, so unlike John, I made no attempt to try and do that in my head. But I reminded me how much I love higher math and how much I miss doing it on a regular basis.

Steve Buchheit said...

I remember just enough of Calc to start down that road before me brain goes, "sprung." Now I gotta go get me some aspirin.