I see that Not Exactly Rocket Science guru Ed Yong is resurrecting his meme from a year or so ago, asking regular readers to introduce themselves in the comments. All the cool kids are doing it! This seems an awesome idea, and we missed the meme the first time around, so we hereby invite our readers -- especially the lurkers! -- to say howdy and tell us about themselves. And I invite my co-bloggers -- yoo-hoo! -- to engage in the comment thread as well. (Exceptions include GPS Tracking Systems, Cellulite Creams, Athens Greece Hotels, and the countless other Affirmation SPAMMERS -- you know who you are! -- peddling Viagra and designer shoes at discount prices, who leave fake comments just to snag a few free links. (Gollum voice) We hates them, precioussss, oh yesss, we do. They only pretend to like usss to flog their products, and waste our time by forcing usss to delete their inane fake observations. (/Gollum voice)
Speaking of flogging products: While you're all figuring out what to say, might as well indulge in a bit more shameless self-promotion. (Don't worry, we do very little of that around here.) Regular readers know posting has been a lot more sporadic at the cocktail party over the last year and a half. My main excuse is a demanding job as director of the Science and Entertainment Exchange. But writers compulsively write. So I juggle that with blogging at Discovery News, penning the odd book review, and have I mentioned lately that I wrote a book in my spare time? (Bora! mentioned it for me last month, along with a fantastic list of other books past, present and future from science writers/bloggers.)
The Calculus Diaries: How Math Can Help You Lose Weight, Win in Vegas, and Survive a Zombie Apocalypse comes out August 31, and I revamped my author Website in honor of the occasion -- it's now vaguely steam-punky and much easier to navigate (there are still a few minor errors because I did the html coding of the main text myself; will fix them soon). So that's what I've been up to, for those who think we're just slackers. As I said at one of my panels at Skepchickon this weekend: I am very tired. I've stayed active on Twitter and Facebook, though -- and for the latest breaking book-related news, you can always become a fan of The Calculus Diaries on Facebook.
Brian Switek of Laelaps knows my pain. He wrote his first book, Written in Stone, in his spare time, too. I think I'm almost as excited for Brian's book as I am about The Calculus Diaries, because I've watched him struggle, persevere and succeed in achieving his dream. He's a promising young science writer and I'm proud to know him, in the blogosphere and IRL. He recently posted advance praise ("blurbs") for Written in Stone, and an impressive array it is, too. That's something every author I know is grateful for: the support of colleagues when it comes time to publish a book. So this seems a good time to thank the amazing folks who lavished advance praise on The Calculus Diaries. It takes a huge amount of effort and discipline to bring an entire book to the publication stage, and it can be pretty darned lonely at times, because everyone's off having a life except you. It warms a writer's heart when such esteemed colleagues find merit in his/her work, and take time out of their own busy schedules to say so. Publicly. So thank you! Publicly! Your support means the world to me.
"The Calculus Diaries is a great primer for anyone who needs to get over their heebie-jeebies about an upcoming calculus class, or for anyone who’s ever wondered how calculus fits into everyday life and wants to be entertained, too!”
--Danica McKellar, New York Times bestselling author of Math Doesn’t Suck and Hot X: Algebra Exposed
"Zombies? Surfing? Gambling? Nobody told me calculus could be like this. To my twelfth-grade math teacher: I demand a do-over!" --Carl Zimmer, author of Parasite Rex and The Tangled Bank: An Introduction to Evolution
"Back in the day, when I was close to flunking out of calculus class because I couldn't understand why it was worth my valuable time to actually understand it, I needed someone like Jennifer Ouellette to gently explain how I wrong I was. She's like every English major's dream math teacher: funny, smart, infected with communicable enthusiasm, and she can rock a Buffy reference. In this book, she hastens the day when more people are familiar with an integral function than with Justin Bieber." -- Peter Sagal, host, NPR's "Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me," and author of The Book of Vice.
"In this wonderful and compulsively readable book, Jennifer Ouellette finds the signature of mathematics -- and especially calculus, of course -- in the most unexpected places, the gorgeously lunatic architecture of Spain's Antonin Gaudi, the shimmering arc of waves on a beach. Just following her on the journey is the half the fun. But the other half is learning about the natural beauty and elegance of calculations. Ouellette's ever clear and always stimulating voice is a perfect match to the subject - and The Calculus Diaries is a tour-de-force." -- Deborah Blum, author of The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York.
"As amusing as it is enlightening, The Calculus Diaries is no dry survey of abstractions. It’s a guide to everyday life—to car trips and roller-coaster rides, diet and exercise, mortgages and the housing bubble, even social networking. As Ouellette modestly recounts her own learning curve, she and her husband become characters alongside eccentrics such as Newton and Gaudi and William the Conqueror. Like a great dance teacher, Ouellette steers us so gently we think we’re gliding along on our own." —Michael Sims, author of Adam’s Navel: A Natural and Cultural History of the Human Form and Apollo’s Fire: A Day on Earth in Nature and Imagination.
"Jennifer Ouellette's calculus confessional is a delight, and an example of the finest kind of science writing. Her book reveals to its readers the gritty inner workings of the most important idea humans have ever thought. (Yes, calculus is that big: it's all about understanding how things change in space and time, and there just isn't much more important than that.) Ouellette's wit, her elegant wielding of metaphor, and her passion for both math and funky culture produce this crucial insight: every equation tells a story, she says, and she's right, and the tales she tells here will captivate even the most math-phobic." -- Tom Levenson, author of Newton and the Counterfeiter; Head of the Program on Writing and Humanistic Studies and Director of the Graduate Program in Science Writing at MIT
"If you ever thought that math was useless, read this book. Want to survive a zombie attack? Win at craps? Beat a zombie at craps? Well, listen to Jennifer Ouellette. The math she describes might just be your best hope if you don't want your brains to be gobbled by the undead." -- Charles Seife, author of Zero: Biography of a Dangerous Idea.
"Like the movies Batman Begins, Spider-Man, or Superman, The Calculus Diaries is the story of how an insightful, creative, and hard-working young person acquires superpowers and uses them for the benefit of society. Only this tale is true: Jennifer Ouellette can't fly or spin a web, but she can spin a yarn. The Calculus Diaries documents the author's seduction by mathematics and her conquering of it--Eureka!--to see the world with sharper vision. For too many people math, calculus in particular, is an albatross. But Ouellette reveals math for what it is, a powerful tool for solving problems and the exquisite language we use to describe nature. Reading this book will make you smarter. And more powerful." -- Eric Roston, author of The Carbon Age
"A charming and gentle introduction to important mathematical concepts and their relevance to everyday life." -- Leonard Mlodinow, author of The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives