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I thought I would just dump two links here that floated to the surface of my memory while I was reading this post:

1) Recent: Forum on Education of the American Physical Society Fall 2007 Newsletter: Setting up a blog for students of introductory Physics classes encourages more positive attitudes towards physics.

2) On the web since forever.. so surely everyone has seen this by now? In case you missed it: "Britney Spears' Guide to Semiconductor Physics"

JLP need not stalk me! She's welcome to drop by any time.

Excellent post.

Your comment on the health aspects of Britney's high heels reminded me that there's also a lot of biophysics going on in wearing heels, particularly every time you change heel height. The crystal structure of your bones actually realigns to help support the changed geometry of your body. Realigning those crystals also requires having a good calcium balance in your diet and burns quite a bit of energy. People who always wear the same height heel, men or women, put much less stress on their metabolisms than those who change heel heights.

I've been meaning to link to the APS Forum on Education article, because it's fantastic... thanks for including it. I've definitely linked to Brit's Semiconductor Physics Guide, but new folks are coming online all the time, so the classic links bear repeating.

Phil, Jen-Luc is watching you right now.... :)

Would Britney exist without wireless microphones? Probably, since she lip syncs at every live appearance. The microphones don't have to be turned on :) The technology she is really a product of is Pro Tools software, which smooths over a singer's voice in the studio.

For the record, it's a common mistake, but Al Gore didn't win an Oscar. The producers of the movie he appeared in did, but he did not. Who cares about an Oscar if you have a Nobel, though?

I'll mention the point I mentioned at this session again: if people want Britney, it's not the media's fault for giving her to them. It's not like if Britney didn't appear that day, they would have paid attention to Al Gore. No, they'd be watching some other channel about Christina Aguilera or some other starlet. People like social, human interest stories more than faceless concepts like "global warming." Even chimps get excited when they see pictures of fellow chimps, more than objects. E.O. Wilson discusses this type of thing extensively in his book "On Human Nature."

If we're going to be scientists, we can approach this in a scientific way and just frame science in a way that will appeal to people. Maybe songs about science? :)

Hmmm, Al Gore's stuff is "Science", is it? Like saying the Kilimanjaro glacier loss was due to AGW?
(See American Scientist). While AGW is not in dispute, his loose take on it certainly is (apocalyptic hysteria, anyone?)

Hi Jennifer, Great post (I read it last week but am only now commenting). I think you and Randy Olson have a lot in common in your views (i.e., Britney is not the media's fault). But as someone who is very interested in the ethics of journalism and corporate consolidation of media, I don't know that I fully agree. Either does MSNBC's Mika Brzenzinski (you may recall how, on June 27, 2007, Brzezinski refused to lead the day’s news with Paris Hilton’s release from prison and subsequently got some major press). The act of defiance is all over YouTube but the whole event is a little awkward perhaps even verging on shrill...

At any rate, I understand many journalists are equally frustrated with what corporate media views as "news". Furthermore, there are simply some things that can't be painted and decorated with bells and whistles. Not everything IS entertaining that is also important. Therefore, not everything can inherently compete with Britney (news sources that prioritize news rather than profits clearly understand this). Granted, there could be a much greater effort from science in that direction...

And while Al Gore did not technically get the Oscar, he did receive it onstage. And, like it or not, An Inconvenient Truth was indeed FULL of science, though as scientists we can argue over the errors (as every scientist does after every popular news piece). It's true, though, that all environmental or science news hopes for a slow day (and no competing "news" from startlets!).

"An Inconvenient Truth was indeed FULL of science"--Jennifer Jacquet
Well, it is full of something...

Yeah, blogging is a brave new world of writing; it's addictive, and while I wouldn't object to getting paid for it, I do appreciate the complete editorial freedom. Loved your cat photo!

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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.