Tag Archives: physics

Happy New Year! Where I’ve been, and where I’m going in 2013.

Photo Credit: Leah Alconcel

Photo Credit: Leah Alconcel

I hope you and yours had a wonderful end of 2012 and rang in the new year with more enthusiasm than I did – I conked out a little after 11pm EST and didn’t manage to greet 2013 until about 9am this morning.

Time for a quick look back, and a longer look ahead.

2012 was a packed year. I published HOT MESS, had short stories featured on blogs and in Amazon E-Book collections, put together a collection of Zombie Haiku, talked a lot about feminism and vaginas (both here and in public), organized readings, took major artists to task over unethical business practices (with results!) and more.

It was a year of both excitement and disappointment, of keeping things in perspective, of working on myself and how I relate to the world. My cousin and his girlfriend got married, and I fell off the Low Sodium wagon hardcore shortly after (funny how having a size 14 dress to fit into can motivate a girl!).

I wrote about physics, I wrote about politics, I wrote about gun control, I broke 100K tweets (don’t know whether to be proud or embarrassed about that), I edited a novel, contributed to a round-robin short story, got some help prettying up the blog, shared my self-publishing experience, interviewed innovative theatre producers

In other words, it’s been a busy year.

What’s up for 2013?

For the first time in years, I’m kicking off with a more-or-less clean slate. The writing projects I had planned to carry into this year are either at good resting points, or they’re not going forward due to external circumstances. I have an idea for a feature I’d like to play with, and I’d like to do more theatre work this year (last year, my short play MILLENNIAL EX was performed as part of Glasgay UK in a program of short works on marriage equality, and that’s re-whet my appetite for playwriting after a small break for other formats). I’m going to continue publishing my produced plays, which will join POST and Playing It Cool over on Amazon, just as soon as I lock down cover art for the new pieces (and by the way, if you’re interested in doing cover art for my plays, please let me know).

As I normally do around this time of year, I’m moving diet and health back to center stage: went grocery shopping yesterday and have gone back to only buying low sodium foods and healthy, nutritious snacks. We’ll see if that lasts much beyond my first day at work.

I spent a lot of time in 2012 on my mental health and well-being, and plan to keep moving forward with that in 2013.  I’d like to travel more, and have started trying to reconfigure finances so this is more than a pipe dream. I’d like to get more involved in activism and political issues – something I did more of in 2012 than I had in 2011, but still an area where I want to contribute in the future.

Thanks to everyone who helped make 2012 a memorable year – here’s to making new memories in 2013.


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Homework Takeaway: There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza…

I finished reading The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene, a week or so ago, and meant to post about that with some summary thoughts. Instead, I reached the end the week of the discovery of the Higgs-Boson, and suddenly the last few pages were no longer conjecture, they were likely fact.

It’s amazing how easy it is to take something seriously once it’s been proven.

At the beginning of the year, I joked on Twitter that if The Elegant Universe was my homework, well, I was an Honors Student and I’d be doing some extra credit, as well. So I’ve started reading The Fabric of the Cosmos.

Already, I’m struck by the change in Greene’s tone – or the change in the tone of the tenor of my reading of it, perhaps? The writing has a deep narrative quality. Greene wrote this before the discovery of the Higgs-Boson, so maybe the tone is due to the increasingly advanced matter of its subject? Past a point, science and art follow many of the same intuitions.

I’m glad to have read The Elegant Universe, as frustrating as I found some of its metaphors, because I’m now confident with how Greene may intend to lay out this new story. Having ended The Elegant Universe with discussion of of temperature transference theory at the time of the Big Bang, Greene is now talking about basic physics experiments again.

Issac Newton’s bucket. Concave and convex surfaces.

Which has brought the song behind the lyrics of this post’s title to mind.

There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza,
There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza; a hole. 

The Music of the Spheres

The Higgs-Boson particle got discovered last week, after its existence was theorized half a century ago. Also known as the “God Particle,” Higgs-Boson is basically the thing that proves that our current model of physics works.


“A Higgs-Boson particle walks into a church and says, ‘You can’t have mass without me.”
“No, but they’ll decay within 4 muons…”
“Thank Higgs-Boson it’s Friday!” and so on.

But this morning I realized the epitome of “Writing geeky jokes about the Higgs-Boson,” and I don’t know if I can pull it off, because I think it might require actual knowledge of science.

I want lyrics to a CERN/LHC/Higgs-Boson cover of U2’s “Mysterious Ways.”

Somebody get on that.

Want more physics? Check older entries.

Homework Takeaway #5: We’re Pretty Sure There Was A Big Bang

After several months – was it really back in January that I posted my most recent update in this series? – I picked up “The Elegant Universe” again and kept reading. On page 349 (in my edition), Green talks about how there was a moment where the universe from being opaque to being transparent.

He then goes on to describe the moment of the birth of the universe in terms that make me think about how he talks about black holes in the previous chapter (p 342-344?). I’m not a hundred percent sure why, but this part of the book reminded me a little of those four-axis graphs, with space on one axis and time on the other, and black holes sucking in all information. It brought to mind the image of a God’s Eye, or one of those cool graphic design things everybody used to doodle in high school (the nearest I can find via Google Images is the first graph used on this total stranger’s blog entry, but imagine four quadrants of that facing one another).

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I say “re,” you say “search”

Have set up a paper.li for Climate Change, so if you want to see what Twitter is saying about that in  advance of Hot Mess‘s March release, click here.

Read a fascinating paper last night called “Can language restructure cognition? The case for space,” which is about how different frames of reference carry through both verbal and non-verbal tasks. It’s not a long paper, and once you get through the initial terminology it’s very readable. Check it out if you have an interest in these things. It’s from 2004, so if there’s been more work in that area and anybody wants to pass on a link, that’d be great.

You’ll notice I haven’t posted any Homework Takeaways recently. This is not because I finished my homework. I still have about half of “The Elegant Universe” to go, plus the extra credit. The science got a little daunting but after last night’s success with the above I’m feeling ready to take on the world, so to speak, so I’ll probably get back to that shortly.

Homework Takeaway #4: Uncertainties in Time, Space and Relationships

I’m still chipping away at Elegant Universe, and have just finished watching Michael Frayn’s Copenhagen – the version starring Daniel Craig as Werner Heisenberg and Stephen Rea as Neils Bohr. So now there are a few threads going though my mind. Copenhagen is an illustration of how the uncertainty principle and physics can map themselves onto individual relationships; this is illustrated well in the moment where Frayn writes Bohr and Heisenberg and Bohr’s wife Margrethe, as they race around a room demonstrating the difficulties of observing an racing beam of light.

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Homework Takeaway #3: Calabi-Yau Dimensions: You Are Where You Are Cuz You’re There

I’m entering the second half of Brian Greene’s The Elegant Universe, and last night read a beautiful, resonant section about Calabi-Yau dimensions. (That page is in French, though Google translate seems to be handling it OK; the image above is taken from that page’s reproduction of the image in the book.)

“If you sweep your hand in a large arc,” Green writes, “you are moving not only through the three extended dimensions, but also through these curled-up dimensions. Of course, because the curled-up dimensions are so small, as you move your hand you circumnavigate them an enormous number of times, repeatedly returning to your starting point.”

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