Links for 2010-08-17

  • You know you're a physical scientist when "Plug-and-Play Solar System" suggests something like "... then you put Jupiter here, and you're all set. See, they're orbiting already! And it's open-source, so it's free." Sadly, this is actually about some home photovoltaic thing.
  • "Linda Grant of the University of Georgia [and] Kimberly Kelly of Mississippi State University noted that many experts would expect science fields to be particularly likely to impose a penalty in average salaries on mothers with children. After all, she noted that academic science has many of the characteristics of what sociologists call "greedy institutions" -- those that demand absolute loyalty of time and commitment.

    But Grant and Kelly found no premium or penalty based on parenthood alone among faculty members in mathematics and science fields. To the extent that there are unexplained salary differentials in these fields, they punish single women -- with the greatest damage to single women who are parents."

  • "At least one expert, recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine for this column, would say we stubborn athletes have a psychological problem.

    Our behavior, said the expert, Dr. Jon L. Schriner, an osteopath at the Michigan Center for Athletic Medicine, is "compulsive": we let our egos get in the way, persisting beyond all reason.

    But another expert recommended by the college, David B. Coppel, a clinical and sports psychologist at the University of Washington, has another perspective. There are several reasons some people find it hard to switch sports, he told me. Often, their friends do that sport, too; it is how these people identify themselves, part of their social life."

  • "When you strike a bell, it rings at a given frequency. This frequency is called the resonant frequency and is the natural frequency at which the bell likes to ring. Just about anything that can shake, rattle, or oscillate will have a resonant frequency. Things like quartz crystals, wine glasses, and suspension bridges all have a resonant frequency. The quartz crystals oscillate at frequencies high enough for accurate timekeeping in watches, the wine glasses at audible frequencies to make boring dinners more interesting, and bridges at low enough frequencies that you can feel it when you walk. It is the resonant frequency of bridges that we decided to measure."

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