Friday, June 26, 2009

Science should be FUN

like this:
Five competition polo ponies were ridden by a professional rider to perform five maximal accelerations and five maximal decelerations in an all-weather polo arena...Stride timings were derived from hoof-mounted 50 g accelerometers logged into MP3 recorders.
From the article "Pitch then Power" in the Biology Letters journal.

As an aside, I think it's interesting that they choose to compare greyhounds with polo ponies. Racing greyhounds accelerate in a linear context. Winning races does not depend on deceleration. Polo ponies, on the other hand, work in a multi-directional environment responding to other players on different paths. Mostly they're turning on a dime, negotiating melees, suddenly starting or stopping, and changing stride to adjust to changing conditions. The study seems to find equivalence between the two groups, but it would be hard to know if any differences were the result of one variable (species) or the other (competion conditions). A hard-core reductionist could instead compare race horses with greyhounds or herding dogs with polo ponies.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Recursive dog

Roomate: Good-night little dog, little dog with a little dog in his mouth
me: He's recursive dog
Roommate: Yes, you need to sew a smaller dog in the little dog's mouth.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Worst phone I've ever had: iPhone

Sure, it's also the best piece of electronics I've ever had, and that's why I keep it. But for making calls, it continues to be the worst phone I've ever had, including my first cell phone, that creaky Kyocera.

Best: interface, content, features. Maps, web, games. There are lots of improvements I'd like to see, but it's the best thing going for a mobile device. One of the reasons I like it is because it reduces the amount of stuff I need to carry. But what I really need to add to my purse is a phone that works.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Still: Women underrepresented in applicant pool for science faculty positions

This is the same result I remember from the last report. Basically, even when women are present in equal numbers in graduate programs, they are less likely than men to apply for faculty positions in their field. However, women who do have faculty positions are generally compensated as well as men. The bottleneck is in the applicant pool.

Why? Here's what I think: women are motivated to pursue science. Once they have reached the point of considering whether to apply for a faculty position, they have become intimately acquainted with work conditions in academia. They've seen that successful faculty forsake all other interests. Many women are not willing to do that, especially if it means forsaking family. So if they have a choice, they don't pursue an academic faculty position.