Blackboards of Physics

Theoretical physicists rely on their blackboards like priests on their pulpits, or like news anchors on their desks. We have very strong opinions about them. Markers vs Chalk? If you like markers, what brand of markers, and how thick? And then, do you write on the whiteboard, the glass window, or just simply, special wall paint? If you like chalk, what kind of chalk? Different brands crumble in different ways. Do you like colored chalk? Do you prefer to write on green or black board?

I am old fashioned about this. I like white chalk on black boards. But, I found that I’m allergic to chalk dust, and I’ve been forced to use markers on white boards now.

There is a photographic art exhibit about the Blackboards of Quantum Physicists. Some pictures are cool. In some others, I feel that the physicists tried to ruin how authentic the writing were, either by making them too nice, or by trying to sabotage them. Either way, I think this kind of works as a way to convince the public to not be scared by our crazy equations.

Clean Energy Project 2

My friends at the Clean Energy Project have started a second stage that focuses on quantum chemistry calculation. You might recall [previously: here and here] that the Clean Energy Project consists of screen saver that allows you to donate computer time to do calculations to discover better materials for solar energy.

You can find some nice instructional videos on how to donate your computer time to help discover the next generation of photovoltaics here.

Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.
-Groucho Marx

Futurama and American Physical Society

David X. Cohen, one of the minds behind one of my favorite animated series, Futurama, tells the American Physical Society how he is physics-lover.

Profiles in Versatility: The Futurama of Physics with David X. Cohen

Happy New Year!

“Hey, what kinda party is this? There’s no booze and only one hooker.”
-Bender Bending Rodriguez

People Do Science

Have you ever wondered how is science done? Why do people do it? What is the output? What is success, what is failure? Check out this wonderful one hour long documentary, Naturally Obsessed.

It follows a group of graduate students in a molecular biology laboratory. Independent of the details of their science, the focus is on where the people (grad students) doing it: their backgrounds, their personal lives, and their emotions in the laboratory. This is a vivid and clear exposition of the human aspect of doing science, without Hollywood drama, without heroic altruism. Science is enough drama on its own. Highly recommended.

Lisa: You should really listen to him. He’s a man of science, and you can barely read.
Homer: Bah, science. Has science ever kissed a woman, or won the Super Bowl, or put a man on the moon? Here’s what I think of your precious science. (Goes full speed into a blood vein. Submarine begins to go out of control) Help me science!