Chad Orzel is an Associate Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Union College in Schenectady, NY. He blogs about physics, life in academia, ephemeral pop culture, and anything else that catches his fancy.

Bad Graphics, STEM Diversity Edition

There was a article in Scientific American about diversity in STEM collecting together the best demographic data available about the science and engineering workforce. It’s a useful collection of references, and comes with some very pretty graphics, particularly this one, showing the demographic breakdown of the US population compared to the science and engineering fields:…

The second one of the TED-Ed lessons I wrote about quantum physics has now been published: What Is the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. This is, again, very similar to stuff I’ve written before, specifically this old blog post and the relevant chapter of How to Teach [Quantum] Physics to Your Dog. As usual, I tried but…

My TED@NYC adventure last fall didn’t turn into an invite to the big TED meeting, but it did lead to a cool opportunity that is another of the very cool developments I’ve been teasing for a while now: I’ve written some scripts for lessons to be posted with TED-Ed. The first of these, on particle-wave…

Intelligence vs. Priorities

Steven Pinker has a piece at the New Republic arguing that Ivy League schools ought to weight standardized test scores more heavily in admissions. this has prompted a bunch of tongue-clucking about the failures of the Ivy League from the usual suspects, and a rather heated concurrence from Scott Aaronson. That last finally got me…

On Academic Scandals

Two very brief notes about high-profile scandals in academia: 1) While it involves one of my faculty colleagues, I have no special insight to offer into the case of Valerie Barr’s firing by the NSF over long-ago political activity. I know and like Valerie as a colleague, and she did some really good stuff as…

I got a royalty statement yesterday for How to Teach [Quantum] Physics to Your Dog (it continues to sell steadily, which is very gratifying), which includes a breakdown of the sales in terms of different formats. That reminded me of a particular annoying quirk of many recent discussions of the state of modern publishing, which…

Fatherhood and Academia

Via a whole bunch of people on social media, there’s a new study of gender roles in academia, which the Washington Post headlines “Study: Male scientists want to be involved dads, but few are”. This is not inaccurate. Some quotes that jumped out at me: “Academic science doesn’t just have a gender problem, but a…

Travel Cons

Matt “Dean Dad” Reed has a post about the issue of academic conference travel, which is expensive and often the first thing cut out of college budgets. Which leaves faculty either disconnected from their field, or paying out-of-pocket to attend meetings that they need to demonstrate their scholarly productivity. This, in turn, tends to skew…

On Productivity

One of the weirder experiences I had at the Nordita Workshop for Science Writers a couple of weeks ago was having people ask me “How are you so productive?” (or the equivalent). That caught me off guard, because I don’t feel like I’m especially productive– in fact, I tend to feel like I’m falling behind…

New Year, New Class: Gen Ed Relativity

The new academic year starts this week– first day of classes is Wednesday– and I’m dealing with the usual chaos associated with the influx of a new class of students. Who now look to me only a tiny bit older than SteelyKid and the Pip in the above picture (and if you think that sharing…