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Serving up science and culture with a splash of wit.


Cocktail Party Physics is a science-and-culture blog that aims to create a salon-like virtual space highlighting the latest news and ideas in science -- with a twist. This is not your high school science class. If I can make it fun, funky, unconventional, and blur the lines between traditional disciplines -- both within the sciences themselves, and science and the arts, literature, pop culture, history, and every other aspect of our culture -- so much the better. We need fewer barriers and more bridges in this world.

Jen-Luc Piquant is the faux-French avatar for science writer Jennifer Ouellette. She has a penchant for gourmet cuisine, high fashion, existential angst, and dabbling in amateur scientific research of questionable import. She is created by Lee Kottner using templates provided by Portrait Illustration maker -- with a little extra help from Photoshop.

Follow her on Twitter: @JenLucPiquant

Jennifer Ouellette is a recovering English major who stumbled into science writing quite by accident, and has been avidly exploring her inner geek ever since. She is the author of three popular science books for the general public: The Calculus Diaries: How Math Can Help You Lose Weight, Win in Vegas, and Survive a Zombie Outbreak, Black Bodies and Quantum Cats: Tales from the Annals of Physics and The Physics of the Buffyverse, all published by Penguin. Her work has also appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, New Scientist, Discover, Salon, Symmetry, and Physics World, among other publications. She is currently working on her fourth book for Penguin.

For two years, Jennifer served as the director of the Science and Entertainment Exchange, an LA-based initiative of the National Academy of Sciences to foster creative collaborations between industry professionals in Hollywood and scientists. She lives in Los Angeles with Caltech cosmologist Sean (M.) Carroll, a.k.a. the Time Lord. Find her on the Web at

This blog contains original material, and is protected under a Creative Commons license. Quoting a couple of paragraphs on your own site and linking back is fine -- in fact, I welcome that. Copying entire posts is NOT cool, whether you link back or not. (I'm talking to YOU, commercial aggregators!)

My blogroll is often hopelessly out of date because the blogosphere changes so rapidly. Help me keep it current! If you're not on the blogroll, or your blog has changed URLs, let us know.

FYI, just because I link to a blog, that doesn't mean I endorse every last bit of content on it. The blogroll is offered as a service to visitors to help them explore the wacky, wonderful world of science blogging.

I moderate comments with a very light hand. I'm not prudish, and don't mind strong language -- heck, sometimes I like to indulge in a spot of profanity, myself. (It's the pause that refreshes.) Nonetheless, I do have boundaries. Do not cross them. I will delete an inappropriate comment rather than edit or disemvowel it. I retain the right to make a judgment call as to whether any comment on that post should be deleted. If someone persists in misbehaving, they will be warned, and if that doesn't dissuade them, they will be banned outright. I am happy to say that this is a very rare occurrence -- maybe twice in the entire history of the blog.

Things that will get your comment deleted include:

(1) obvious SPAM, including "affirmation SPAM," where you generically praise the post/blog solely as a lame attempt to leave your URL selling some product or service;

(2) comments that are more than 600 words (write a separate post on your own blog and link to it in the comments);

(3) long, techno-babble rants about your pet theory, new discovery, or latest perpetual motion machine (we adhere to the laws of thermodynamics here at the cocktail party);

(4) comments complaining about how your previous comment was "censored";

(5) comments that are unnecessarily crude or vulgar, contain obvious hate speech, or sexually explicit sniggering (what are you, 12?).

If you're not sure if the above apply to you, consider this Golden Rule: if you wouldn't say it to my face while a guest in my home, don't say it on my blog. This is my virtual living room. And I am under no obligation to tolerate bad behavior.

Questions? Comments? Email Jen-Luc Piquant at JenLuc [at]