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One thing that fascinates me about the self-presentation of scientists is that they are so athletic. I have read for years about physicists (and other scientists) that climb mountains, run marathons, do martial arts, bike and hike long distance. It is almost as if athletic prowess is required to be a scientist. There must be scientific couch potatoes though.


I'm far from being an athlete, though thanks to the odd scraps of DNA I inherited from this place and that, I might pass for a second-string American football player in a dim light. I **was** my high school Prom King, but that illustrates principles more related to math than to physics -- i.e., voter fraud. But that's a story for another day!

Please, **please** tell me a camera crew caught the "science is cool" kid on video!

The CUNY videographer captured the "science is cool" kid for posterity. If only the CBS cameras had still been rolling by then! Many still shots were taken of the kids on the mat with us, attempting punches, kicks and hip throws. I'll post links to those once they're up and available..

as a practitioner of martial arts I find it amazing how little energy on my part it takes to do an "amanda" move. It's all about using your opponents energy and redirecting it to use against them. And used along with hold techniques, it's a beautiful thing. : ) So even though it's great that Amanda hits hard, men typically are immune to body blows, especially by someone 100 pounds lighter. I'd never try to defend myself against a man with a body blow, unless it was used after the takedown to incapacitate him from coming back up.

Cool stuff.

"men typically are immune to body blows..."

Not if the person giving the body blows is Mike Tyson. But as for Amanda -- did I say she used body blows? :) I did not. Groin strikes, strikes to the joints, bridge of the nose, side of the neck... it's all about hitting the most effective targets. Hard.

i'm familiar with the effective areas, but i assumed for demo purposes they would be striking the body. If he took those blows you mentioned above, and they were hard, the nose bridge and sides of neck are potentially lethal targets, and the other areas----very damaging indeed. : )

And the situation I was referring to was in the case of a woman like myself (comparing myself to Amanda) defending herself, not Mike Tyson. And men are immune to body blows from women for the most part. I've been sparring for over a decade and have never done very much damage with my hardest roundhouse to a man's gut let alone a punch.

In any event, I wasn't trying to appear being critical. I think it's great that you were there for the science fair and showed your stuff. Keep it up. : )

Ah, one should never assume. :) This actually highlights a problem I have with the way sparring is often practiced in many martial arts schools. If you train with body blows, this gets into muscle memory, and you'll be more likely to execute body blows in an actual defensive situation -- to little effect, unless you manage to hit the floating rib or sternum in just the right way. We practice controlled strikes to specific vulnerable targets precisely to guard against this, whether we're doing a demo or just practicing in class.

It also causes women in particular to internalize the notion that they can't effectively hit a larger opponent -- which is a self-defeating attitude. Sure, mass matters; it's a vitally important part of the equation, and all things being equal, yadda, yadda, yadda. But all things are never equal in real-world situations. It's entirely possible to recognize and accept the reality that size offers an unfair advantage, without jumping to the conclusion that "men are immune", etc. We hear enough naysaying about what women "can't" do -- in physics as well as in the martial arts -- without inadvertently reinforcing that negative message.

I've actually got a post in the works about this issue. Perhaps now would be a good time to actually finish it. :)

'We hear enough naysaying about what women "can't" do -- in physics as well as in the martial arts --'

Where? Are you talking about Lubos? What is it with him and women?

Just to weigh in on the body blows question: most men can't really do that much with body blows either. Professional boxers can, but they've empirically figured out how to put their weight into it. I got my black belt in a karate style, and the end of our promotion was taking punches to the gut from the whole school (kind of embarrassing to recall, actually).

Since then I've switched to an internal martial art. There is no way I'm taking a full power blow from an internal boxer. The whole game changes when you no longer rely on your arm muscles to generate power.

Looks like a fun weekend, though. Will it be happening again? If so I'll have to drop by.

Re: Above Judo Demo

It was science coupled with a cooperative Uke, and some acting.

It would be a lot more difficult for a girl to throw an individual that out weighs her by 60 plus pounds in a real street fight. As a far as the above petite lady demosrtating Tomoe-Nage - it is better that she didn't try it in a real confrontation. A athletic individual can easily get out of it. A failed Tomoe-Nage can leave one vulnerable to kicks. I really don't think that lady can apply Tomoe-Nage effectively in a real fight. There is also a good chance that even a professional Judo player would have some problems executing Tomoe-Nage in a real struggle - timimg the throw is very important, and usually the attacker would have to be pressing forward in order to break his/her balance properly.

Mark: Of course the uke was cooperating. It was a demo, and the purpose was to demonstrate principles of physics, not duke it out in a no-holds barred street fight. Plus, cooperating ensures no one gets hurt. Context is everything. But believe me, Amanda is genuinely throwing Jordan in the pictures. The techniques do work.

I get very tired of uber-macho male martial artists ranting on and on about "real fights" and how certain techniques don't work in them, yadda, yadda, yadda, as if they were the first ones to ever raise this point. Well, duh. Anyone with a decent MA training understands this. Not every technique works every time, against every opponent; that's why there are so many different techniques. The most simple, basic, straightforward moves are the ones a well-trained MA would use in a fight. Would I use tomoe nage for self defense? Not a chance, not unless by some weird coincidence, the throw was right there mid-fight -- timing, forward momentum and correct position all must be precisely right for it to work (because of the physics, I might add). Ditto for even the most basic hip throw, which is much easier to execute than tomoe nage. (I just don't like turning my back on an opponent, but if he's already behind me....) That doesn't mean it's not worth practicing those throws. Nor does it mean the throw can't be a valuable tool for demonstrating the physics principles at work.

And just because Amanda's tiny, doesn't mean she can't fight -- and win! -- in an actual street altercation, precusely because there are so many variables besides size and strength. Her margin for error is much smaller than it would be for a large man, but believe me, women can do some serious damage outside controlled dojo or demo conditions... something men usually fail to appreciate. You just keep on underestimating us --it gives one more extra advantage. :)

I Stumbeled across your blog looking for Jiu-Jitsu Folks.
And I enjoyed reading yours greatly.

Science is as many thing -- if presented in an environment where people can not help but desire the answer or the process is a great trick I learned from Montessori Education.

" Small guided step to self discovery"

Anyway I own a jiu-jitsu on line Store , if you have not checked it out, not fancy but we are Gameness and our products are high quality.

Great blog

Have a great day!

Sorry for the bad spelling but I an on the phone at the same time - a terrible example of multitasking :)

Hi, I am just cruising the Blogosphere, reading blogs about Jiu-Jitsu.
I own the companies, Jiu-Jitsu USA ® and Jiu-Jitsu World.
I train and compete for Ralph Gracie- Everyone calls me “Hondo”
Great blog! The mats in Manhattan are great!
We have a web site that the profits go to endangered youth programs
and we sell Jiu-Jitsu stuff in fact the Gameness brand. We are
Jiu-Jitsu USA ® (I promise this is not a joke, my cell phone # is at the
Bottom of this note) you seem to have a great pulse on the whole scene
Our small company gives every penny of profit to Endangered Youth programs
I don’t want to be obnoxious and put a link in our note.
However would super appreciate you telling people about us.


@Hondo@ I should have saw your comment earlier... I just started training BJJ and wanted to buy a GI... since you have a carity going on, I should have bought from you.

@Jennifer Ouellette@ Thanks for the post! and I miss NYC. :)

Martial Art Training

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    Physics Cocktails

    • Heavy G
      The perfect pick-me-up when gravity gets you down.
      2 oz Tequila
      2 oz Triple sec
      2 oz Rose's sweetened lime juice
      7-Up or Sprite
      Mix tequila, triple sec and lime juice in a shaker and pour into a margarita glass. (Salted rim and ice are optional.) Top off with 7-Up/Sprite and let the weight of the world lift off your shoulders.
    • Listening to the Drums of Feynman
      The perfect nightcap after a long day struggling with QED equations.
      1 oz dark rum
      1/2 oz light rum
      1 oz Tia Maria
      2 oz light cream
      Crushed ice
      1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
      In a shaker half-filled with ice, combine the dark and light rum, Tia Maria, and cream. Shake well. Strain into an old fashioned glass almost filled with crushed ice. Dust with the nutmeg, and serve. Bongos optional.
    • Combustible Edison
      Electrify your friends with amazing pyrotechnics!
      2 oz brandy
      1 oz Campari
      1 oz fresh lemon juice
      Combine Campari and lemon juice in shaker filled with cracked ice. Shake and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Heat brandy in chafing dish, then ignite and pour into glass. Cocktail Go BOOM! Plus, Fire = Pretty!
    • Hiroshima Bomber
      Dr. Strangelove's drink of choice.
      3/4 Triple sec
      1/4 oz Bailey's Irish Cream
      2-3 drops Grenadine
      Fill shot glass 3/4 with Triple Sec. Layer Bailey's on top. Drop Grenadine in center of shot; it should billow up like a mushroom cloud. Remember to "duck and cover."
    • Mad Scientist
      Any mad scientist will tell you that flames make drinking more fun. What good is science if no one gets hurt?
      1 oz Midori melon liqueur
      1-1/2 oz sour mix
      1 splash soda water
      151 proof rum
      Mix melon liqueur, sour mix and soda water with ice in shaker. Shake and strain into martini glass. Top with rum and ignite. Try to take over the world.
    • Laser Beam
      Warning: may result in amplified stimulated emission.
      1 oz Southern Comfort
      1/2 oz Amaretto
      1/2 oz sloe gin
      1/2 oz vodka
      1/2 oz Triple sec
      7 oz orange juice
      Combine all liquor in a full glass of ice. Shake well. Garnish with orange and cherry. Serve to attractive target of choice.
    • Quantum Theory
      Guaranteed to collapse your wave function:
      3/4 oz Rum
      1/2 oz Strega
      1/4 oz Grand Marnier
      2 oz Pineapple juice
      Fill with Sweet and sour
      Pour rum, strega and Grand Marnier into a collins glass. Add pineapple and fill with sweet and sour. Sip until all the day's super-positioned states disappear.
    • The Black Hole
      So called because after one of these, you have already passed the event horizon of inebriation.
      1 oz. Kahlua
      1 oz. vodka
      .5 oz. Cointreau or Triple Sec
      .5 oz. dark rum
      .5 oz. Amaretto
      Pour into an old-fashioned glass over (scant) ice. Stir gently. Watch time slow.