Links for 2012-09-26

In which Rhett almost makes me want ridiculously expensive sneakers, space loses its aura of cool, the Dean Dad introduces his kids to Star Trek, John Myers Myers overreaches in an interesting way, and a blogger asks for information on why women leave physics.


  • Physics Not Physical: Why I’m Asking Why

    I want to know WHY the percentage of women in physics going down. Right now there is a ton of support for women entering physics. We have conferences and mentorship programs all over the nation. But one crucial voice is missing: the women who dropped out of the physics major, and the women who majored in physics but chose to not go on to graduate school. I write this blog because I want to hear from the women who chose not to continue in physics. They are the ones who can shed the true insight! I also want to hear from women who did continue in physics. What made you pick physics, and what made you stay?

  • Black Gate » Blog Archive » John Myers Myers, Silverlock, and the Commonwealth of Letters

    The book is greatly beloved by some. My copy has essays by Poul Anderson, Larry Niven, and Jerry Pournelle praising it to the skies. For myself, I enjoyed it, with reservations. It’s a fun book, but I couldn’t help but feel that Myers bit off more than he could chew — or, perhaps, that the idea was setting up greater expectations (as it were) than he or anybody could fulfill. Still, the book did seem to me to be worth writing about, because whether or not it’s wholly successful in itself, it raises a host of interesting questions about the nature of fictional characters, and how they work, and how we read them, and how these things may change in time.

  • Confessions of a Community College Dean: Passing On a Torch

    As a kid, I remember watching Star Trek at 7:00 on Saturday nights with my Mom. At the time, it struck me as the most amazing show ever made, even though I frequently only half-understood what was going on. Through the miracle of streaming video, I’ve recently introduced my kids to Kirk and Spock. And I’ve been reintroduced with adult eyes. Seeing again as an adult a show you loved as a kid is a little uncanny. It’s recognizable, of course, but everyone seems so much younger. Now the subtexts aren’t nearly as subtle, and it seems more 60’s than futuristic. But the cheesiness of some of the effects has a charm of its own. The Wife is duly mortified, of course; to her, Star Trek is of a piece with Renaissance Faires and Hobbitry. Affection for Star Trek, in her mind, is a sort of voluntary cultural exile. I think she’s half expecting that the kids and I will start wearing Vulcan ears around the house and speaking Klingon at the table. But the kids don’t carry that baggage.

  • Ian Bogost – The Broken Beyond: How Space Turned Into an Office Park

    By the 1970s, space had become a laboratory rather than a frontier. Despite its status as “space station,” Skylab was first called Orbital Workshop, making it sound more like dad’s vision for his garage than like Kubrik’s vision of 2001. The fact that Skylab was permanently disfigured during launch only concretized the program’s ennui. Space exploration became self-referential: missions were sent to SkyLab in order to repair SkyLab. The Space Shuttle turned the workaday space lab into a suburban delivery and odd-jobs service. Satellites were deployed, space labs serviced, probes released, crystals grown. Meanwhile, the aspects of space travel that really interest people–such as the fact that it’s travel in motherfucking outer space–were downplayed or eliminated.

  • The Physics of Nike+ Hyperdunk | Wired Science |

    Nike makes some cool stuff. In particular, the Nike+ gear is quite interesting. These are different sensors that you can use to measure your performance in sports like running, training, or basketball. Clearly, there is some physics to explore here – and thanks to the good folks at Nike, I have a pair to play with. In this case, I have the Nike Hyperdunk hightops with the Nike+ basketball sensors.