I almost speak Greek April 13, 2013Posted by mareserinitatis in computers, humor, science.
Tags: accuracy, greek, kappa, precision
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I was working on my thesis, trying to do some debugging, when I discovered a discrepancy between two pieces of code. Mike was standing nearby, and when I made that noise one makes when they discover something is afoot, he asked what was up.
“There’s a difference between kappa in these two programs.”
Of course, I blanked at that particular moment and couldn’t dredge up the meaning from the recesses of my memory.
“Umm….it’s that little K thingy.”
I think that’s the accurate but not precise answer…
Research expenditures January 4, 2013Posted by mareserinitatis in engineering, humor, research.
Tags: Mike, research
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This morning, Mike said something about how he forgot to pick up some wax paper at the grocery store. I dug around in one of my drawers and produced an as-yet unopened roll of wax paper (because I’m awesome like that).
Me: ”Does the younger boy need it for school?”
Mike: “No, I need it to store some widgets. They have adhesive on the back, so the wax paper works real well.”
Me: “Oh, you didn’t tell me that this was for research purposes. I might have to put a hefty markup on that. Say, 300% of cost.”
Mike: “I’m sure the markup would be closer to 10,000% if I stated that the research were for national defense.”
That’s one expensive roll of wax paper.
FCIWYPSC, now with more cowbell! December 18, 2012Posted by mareserinitatis in humor.
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Today was our departmental holiday potluck. I brought deviled eggs but chose to bring my own lunch rather than brave the terrors of potentially glutenated food.
However, as I was waiting for my food to heat up, the ‘band’ was setting up nearby. The band consisted of the Minion, a couple of my coworkers, and another coworker from a different department. I jokingly said that if I’d known there was going to be music, I would’ve brought my dumbek.
Unbeknownst to me, they needed someone to play the cowbell. Seriously. They had two of them along with two clamshells on a stand, so I was volunteered to help with the percussion. I think I did okay, except on the reggae piece. Of course, the Minion was on drums, and I was watching him…so I’m secretly thinking I can blame him. Maybe I ought to look into cowbell lessons. (Although I did get some help from @MissMSE already!)
Repost: Happy Talk like a Pirate Day! September 19, 2012Posted by mareserinitatis in humor, math.
Tags: matrix, rotation, talk like a pirate day
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(This is a repost from my old Livejournal blog.)
On this most holy holiday, where we all celebrate the day when His Noodliness touched us all (and which we observe to prevent more global warming), it’s important to remember what the day is truly about: transformation.
You’ll often hear Pastafarians (and their lesser imitators) say, “Arrrr!” What, you ask, could they be talking about?
It may not be obvious, but they are talking about Arrrr (R), which is the rotation matrix. (Note that this is quite different from the Matrix.)
As any good sea-faring pirate knows, rotation matrices are essential tools for navigation.
Any rotation can be given as a composition of rotations about three axes (Euler’s rotation theorem), and thus can be represented by a matrix operating on a vector,
We should remember, on this day, that a series of rotations can be accomplished by multiplying the matrices of each individual rotation together, thus resulting in a single rotation matrix (not Matrix) to describe the overall transformation that has been achieved.
And this concludes the sermon for today.
Friday Fun: best videos I came across this week June 8, 2012Posted by mareserinitatis in Friday Fun, humor.
Tags: electronics, robin williams, solar physics, star wars, venus, video
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Just keep in mind that I don’t have a very high bar for all of them….
Friday fun: Encabulator madness February 17, 2012Posted by mareserinitatis in Friday Fun, humor.
Tags: friday fun, turboencabulator
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If you ever need practice speaking jargon, I’d suggest studying one or the other of the two following videos.
My theory on the Big Bang Theory January 30, 2012Posted by mareserinitatis in humor, physics, science, science fiction, societal commentary.
Tags: Big Bang Theory, physics, stories, suspension of disbelief, TV
I really don’t watch much TV, but I do own all of the Big Bang Theory that’s available on DVD. Most of my friends really enjoy it, too, and I have a theory why that is: I think that it’s one of the few TV shows that nerds can stand to watch because it is far more factually correct than most TV shows.
Most of the nerds I know are the ones who annoy everyone else at movies by making commentary throughout about the impossibility or improbability of what they’re witnessing. (In particular, my older son is this way. Of course, he also likes to tell you what’s going to happen next, so he’s been banned from speaking during movies.) Suspension of disbelief becomes a little harder when you’re faced with something you know cannot possibly happen.
I think this became obvious to me in one scene where Sheldon was waxing (un)poetic about how great Isaac Newton was. Leonard made some comment meant in sarcasm, and Sheldon’s response was to say that Leonard disputed Newton’s claim that he invented calculus so Leonard wanted to put Leibniz at the top of the Christmas tree.
Most people who have no clue about calculus would probably laugh at this scene because Sheldon missed the point of the sarcasm. On the other hand, those of us who know anything about calculus might have been laughing because we knew exactly to what he was referring. And it made me ponder…would I want Newton at the top of my tree, or Leibniz? For the record, I would have been fine with Newton at the top of the tree because he did a lot more than invent calculus…but I still am glad for Leibniz’s wonderful notation. Either way, you couldn’t have just thrown any mathematician or physicist’s name out. It HAD to be Leibniz because the rivalry is so historic and well-known among mathophiles.
As I go through the show, I find little details like that a lot, and I really enjoy them. Whether or not I want to, I tend to pay attention to those points and letting them go is tough. Sometimes they even draw me in more than just the storyline does. In the episode where Sheldon is attempting to teach Penny physics, I kept thinking, “There’s better ways to explain that.” And when she was supposed to answer a question, it felt like sitting in a classroom and wanting to blurt out the answer.
It’s a real treat to watch a show that doesn’t use science as some sort of nifty backdrop to the story, where the science actually is important to the story or at least makes it more fun. And better yet, it still manages to entertain all the non-physicists out there, too.
Diffusion in the presence of nerds January 7, 2012Posted by mareserinitatis in engineering, feminism, humor, science, societal commentary.
Tags: humor, jokes, meetings, sexism
If only life were as simple as mathematics. Unfortunately, people to act like molecules. That is, they’re not easily quantifiable and logical.
Earlier this week, I had to do an experiment in diffusion of the human variety.
I went into a meeting where I was the only woman (as usual), and it began with someone telling me a somewhat sexist (as well as old and lame) joke. At least I think it is. Either way, it definitely had nothing to do with the topic at hand.
How many men does it take to change a roll of toilet paper? They don’t know…it’s never happened.
My first inclination was to respond that obviously the investigators had never been to my house. One of the things you probably don’t need to know about me is that I tend to be lazy and pull TP out of the closet and just put it on the back of the toilet. My dear, patient husband gets horribly annoyed with this particular quirk of mine. However, he’s never actually told me he’s annoyed, but he will make a show of picking it off the back of the toilet and putting it on the roller in front of me. When he does so, I tend complain that he has put it on backwards and that I will have to fix it. (We’ve both engaged in these practices for at least ten years, so I don’t see them changing any time soon.)
I also had the inclination to say that I’d heard it before…or even that I thought I was inappropriate. The problem is that there were other people in there, and I got the feeling that most of them were both thinking also that the joke was inappropriate and not sure how I would react. The overall sense I got (which may or may not have been incorrect) was that everyone was a bit uncomfortable and not sure how to respond. Hence, I needed a way to diffuse the situation.
I did none of these things (pointing out the inappropriateness of the behavior seems rather useless with certain individuals). I’d heard a joke the day before and had shared it online with several people. I decided to not acknowledge the joke the colleague had just told other than to say, “And now I have a joke for you.”
A photon walks into a hotel. The concierge asks, “May I help you with your bags?” The photon says, “No, thanks. I’m traveling light.”
Given I was with a bunch of engineers and scientists, this was a great way out of it. I didn’t have to look like a jerk for calling the person out nor did I make anyone uncomfortable, even though I don’t think anyone would have faulted me if I had. And better yet, I think those present appreciated my sense of humor than my colleague.
What would you have done in that situation?
Grad school Barbie December 12, 2011Posted by mareserinitatis in grad school, humor.
Tags: grad school barbie
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A friend posted a link to this page on Facebook. It’s all about Grad School Barbie:
Every Graduate School Barbie comes with these fun filled features guaranteed to delight and entertain for hours: Grad School Barbie comes out of the box with a big grin on her face that turns into a frown after 2 weeks or her first advisor meeting (whichever comes first). She also has adorable black circles under her delightfully bloodshot eyes.
And there’s more. Check it out for a good laugh.
It’s not polite to laugh during a thesis defense November 4, 2011Posted by mareserinitatis in engineering, humor, research, younger son.
Tags: aliens, defense, goo, thesis, younger son
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A friend of mine had his thesis defense today. Earlier this week, I found out that the younger son would have today off from school because of parent-teacher conferences. I told my friend I wouldn’t be able to make it.
“No, bring him with! I don’t care.”
I thought about it. The younger boy, unlike his older brother, can sit quietly and focus on things for a good amount of time. When he’s not loaded up on sugar, he’s extremely well-behaved. So…why not?
Before the defense, we went out to lunch with his occupational therapist. It was his ‘graduation’ and a chance for him to say goodbye. We went to a local place called Space Aliens (what can I say…North Dakota is birthplace to the coolest restaurants), and he won a bunch of tickets and got some prizes. One was a whoopie cushion, and the other was an alien encapsulated in some sort of clear blue gel goo. They called it Alien Putty.
I told him he had to leave the whoopie cushion in the car when we got to the defense.
Before the defense was underway, he and I parked in the back corner of the room closest to the door. I gave him my iPod touch so that he could play games.
Things went pretty well until about 20 minutes into the presentation. Then I heard something tap gently on the desk beside me. I looked over and realized that the younger son had taken his alien goo out. He ended up dropping the container on the floor, but he was otherwise sitting quietly, so I figured I wouldn’t say anything.
A few minutes later, I looked over, and he had his hand encased in goo – he was wearing it like a glove. He was holding his bright orange alien in his goo-encased fist, completely oblivious.
I almost broke out laughing. In fact, I spent the next ten minutes holding my hand over my mouth because I was terrified I would start laughing. I almost had tears streaming down my face by the end of it. My friend, who was giving his presentation kept looking over. Could he see this? Was he getting annoyed?
The friend’s dad, who was sitting on the other side of me and is also a professor, kept looking over at the younger son. I have no idea what he thought, but I have the feeling he felt it was very inappropriate to have a youngster with his arm covered in oozing goo sitting in his son’s defense. Either that, or he was trying not to laugh, too.
He dropped the container again.
Given we were sitting there for well over an hour, I think the boy did a fabulous job of behaving himself. Next time, though, I think we better leave the goo in the car, too.