Saturday, April 18, 2009

(Some of) You Must Watch This

Here is a copy of an email that I just sent to a couple of people. It occurred to me right after I CTRL-entered that I probably ought to have CCed more heavily. So here you go, with a few minor edits and the fancy embedding part added.

Hi, H. and C.,

Here is something I think the two of you would really enjoy watching the next time you have a spare hour, based on my impression of how your minds work:

(alt. video link)

If the thought of sitting in front of your computer for an hour to watch streaming video seems dreadful, you could instead download either the video or audio file from the same page and stuff it onto your iPod for future reference.

This is a diavlog (from dialog + video + blog). One of the two participants is Jennifer Ouellette, who is a science writer and blogger, who among other things (1) runs a project to help Hollywood make their depictions of science and scientists better, and (2) has recently decided to tackle a stumbling block from her school days by teaching herself calculus. (As she will tell you, she is not hampered in these endeavors by her husband, Sean Carroll, of Cosmic Variance fame, a physicist who is also one of today's best -- and one of my favorite -- science communicators.)

The other participant is Diandra Leslie-Pelecky, who is a professor of physics at University of Texas-Dallas, whose most recent book (for the lay audience, at least) is The Physics of NASCAR.* I had not heard of her before today, but she (like Jennifer) immediately comes across as someone I know I'd like to hang out with at least once a week. She also blogs at the site that Jennifer started: Cocktail Party Physics.

They talk about all manner of things, including but not limited to these topic titles that I swiped from the show page:

  • Diandra’s latest book, “The Physics of NASCAR” (10:57)
  • Physicists vs. engineers at the race track (03:57)
  • Jennifer’s adventures on the set of “Iron Man 2” (06:46)
  • Diandra’s research on the use of magnets in chemotherapy (05:18)
  • The intricate insides of a Toyota Prius (11:32)
  • Are colleges becoming more like trade schools? (08:14)

I found the whole thing a delight to listen to.

Okay, enough of a sales pitch. Hope you like it!

P.S. If what I recommended at all appeals to you, do not miss the "Links Mentioned" section posted to the right of the video box on that same page. I have not had a chance to look at them yet, but from the diavlog, some sound intriguing, particularly "Diandra’s new TV spots for the NSF" and "The Science and Entertainment Exchange," which is the home on the Web for Jennifer's fix-Hollywood-science project.

* As I said in the forums over there:

Ann Coulter would totally hate the opening segment [update: the whole] of this diavlog, the thought of which only added to my enjoyment of it.

No comments: