My Photo


  • Jen-Luc Piquant sez: "They like us! They really like us!"

    "Explains physics to the layperson and specialist alike with abundant historical and cultural references."
    -- Exploratorium ("10 Cool Sites")

    "... polished and humorous..."
    -- Physics World

    "Takes 1 part pop culture, 1 part science, and mixes vigorously with a shakerful of passion."
    -- Typepad (Featured Blog)

    "In this elegantly written blog, stories about science and technology come to life as effortlessly as everyday chatter about politics, celebrities, and vacations."
    -- Fast Company ("The Top 10 Websites You've Never Heard Of")
Blog powered by Typepad
Bookmark and Share

« birds of a feather | Main | crime scene craziness »


Great story, I was really rooting for the letter L. He made a mistake by going directly from "--" to "love"; his next step should have been to send XOXO and if he gets XOXOX back, he can move on to the matter of <3.

I enjoyed that! One little correction: In the closing sentence, "Instead, he message reads," presumably you meant 'the' instead of 'he'. Tiny oops moment, otherwise it's all good.

First off, I've been enjoying your work (Jennifer) for a while now.

One nit on the above article, however. If you (Brian) are going to appropriate one of xkcd's famous comics, ( ), you should provide a link/reference to where it is from. That's required by the 'Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License' (ie, free to copy and reuse non-commercially, but you need tell people where it's from).

Besides, this is a target-rich environment for finding people who'd enjoy xkcd's humor.

Don't blame Brian for the XKCD cartoon; I was casting about for something related to his post to break up the text...

Writing from the perspective of your target audience, this was an excelent explanation. Thanks.

Just a little nit-pick, technically, the binary value "0" is not necessarily a pause, but a voltage of below a certain threshold. In a 5v system, anything below 0.8v is considered "0" and anything above 2.7v is considered "1".

Loved the story though, with a great ending.

Thanks for the correction, Harry. I actually rewrote this piece later (was a bit premature sending it to Jennifer), and instead of pulse/pause I used on/off, which I realized was simply more accurate, even though, as you say, a small amount of juice still registers as a 0.

It's a much-improved version of this blog post, I think. KC Cole recommended that I send it off to Wired or a similar publication. We'll see what happens.

Also, partly on the merit of this post, I was just offered a science writing internship at JPL in Pasadena. Jennifer has been very gracious to allow a student writer to post content on her blog, which is, after all, the one place she gets to write whatever she wants. Thank you, Jennifer.

Congrats on the internship, Brian! That's terrific news, and I look forward to seeing your output in the next few years. although I think KC deserves most of the credit for your new gig -- she actually taught the class. :)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Twitter Updates

    follow me on Twitter

    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.