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.

STEM Gender Gaps and Draft Dodging

It’s always a pleasure to see former students doing well, and to that end, we invited one of my former thesis students, Mike Mastroianni, class of 2007, to give a colloquium talk last week in the department. Mike went to physics grad school for a couple of years after graduation, but decided he was more…

The Typing Cure

One of the things I miss about not being able to follow college basketball these days is that I don’t really know enough about the state of the game to understand Mark Titus’s columns at Grantland. They’re kind of sophomoric, but you know, a little of that is sometimes good, and I always enjoyed reading…

Jim Boeheim

It’s the absolute peak of college basketball season, and it still seems weird to be almost completely disconnected from the game. This is not, by the way, the result of any principled objection to the manifest hypocrisies of the NCAA, or anything like that, but a practical effect of having kids. If the tv is…

Terry Pratchett, RIP

Sir Terry Pratchett, author of some mind-boggling number of books, mostly the comic-fantasy Discworld series, died yesterday. He had been diagnosed with a kind of early-onset Alzheimer’s back in 2007, a particularly cruel fate for a writer, but faced it with an impressive degree of grace, and kept writing almost to the end. And, indeed,…

The Physics of Our Back Gate

It’s winter, and as usually happens in winter, I’m having a hard time opening the gate to our back yard. Why? It’s not the snow, it’s physics. We have a standing policy that as much as possible, Emmy goes in and out through the back door for walks and small-animal-chasing in the backyard. This has…

Kate’s a big consumer of audio books, but I’ve never been able to listen to them. About five minutes in, I doze right off, every time. However, I know there are a lot of folks like Kate who love audio books and listen to them while commuting, so I’m very happy to announce that Audible…

Happy Birthday, Grums

Today is my grandmother’s 90th birthday: born on this date in 1925 in the Bronx, the seventh of eight kids. She moved out to Long Island circa WWII, and has lived there ever since. Many of my favorite childhood memories involve visiting her in Mineola. Back in the 70’s, she used to host me and…

Both Roads Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And caused me no small amount of panic For traveling both of them would be good But there simply was no way I could Until I remembered quantum mechanics. So half my wavefunction I sent left And rightward steered the other half Both pieces of me with equal…

I’ve updated the detailed blog post describing our summer workshop introducing writers to quantum physics to include a link to the application form. For the benefit of those who read via RSS, though, and don’t follow me on Twitter: the application form is now live, and will be for the next few weeks. We expect…

Fermi Pipeline Problems

There was some Twitter chatter the other night about a new arxiv paper called The Gender Breakdown of the Applicant Pool for Tenure-Track Faculty Positions at a Sample of North American Research Astronomy Programs: The demographics of the field of Astronomy, and the gender balance in particular, is an important active area of investigation. A…