Gas station without pumps

2013 March 30

A physics teacher’s reaction to anti-science witch hunts

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 12:06
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Frank Noschese, a physics teacher, has written a rather amusing “letter to parents” on his blog Dear Parents | Action-Reaction, including such gems as

Giggle-inducing Scientific Terminology. Uranus, excited state, naked singularity, panspermia, ram pressure, Trojans, black hole, galactic bulge, hadron, space probe, parsecs, and 21-centimeter emission, to name a few. These are not “dirty words.” They are official scientific terms and we will need to use them in class.

The post as a whole mocks the anti-science attitude of the Dietrich, Idaho parents who protested a 10th grade biology teacher using the word “vagina” in the unit about reproduction. []

I guess that Idaho is racing Kansas to become the most anti-science state in the United States.

2012 February 5

Fake websites

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 11:10
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I was recently pointed to an excellent collection of fake websites, spoof websites, science spoofs, commercial fake sites.  This is a good place to find pointers to sites like the Pacific Tree Octopus, online pregnancy test, dehydrated water, dihydrogen monoxide, save the rennets, and other hoax sites.  There are over two dozen links!

2011 October 5

Dangers of automatic markup

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 18:10

The FreeLibrary has automatic markup (with mouseovers) of acronyms.  This sometimes leads to ludicrous results as seen in this screenshot of a Google search:

2011 February 2

A counterpoint to my plea

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 23:01
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Some time ago I posted a plea to students, postdocs, and faculty to go to more seminars: What college students (and professors) do wrong. In response, a postdoc just sent me a link to the humor piece Experimental Error: Lies, Damned Lies, and Seminars in Science.  (Not my postdoc—I don’t have any funding for grad students or postdocs.)

I can certainly identify with the rant about “obfuscation, incoherence, and acronyms, acronyms, acronyms (which a seminar speaker would probably label “OIA3” on an early slide without ever explaining what it stood for)”—I will never go to another chromatin-remodeling or histone-modification talk in my life.

Also objectionable to me are the speakers who drone and mumble.  I know I’m beginning to get a bit deaf (the audiologist tells me that hearing aids are unlikely to help for another couple of years, but I could just qualify for them on my insurance plan), but I can still hear speakers who face the audience and talk to them all, and not just their friend in the front row who invited them. But I’ve already ranted about that in Speaking Loudly.

Luckily, most of the talks I go to are not those archetypical snoozefests. There is often a good idea worth listening to, and the better talks may have a number of cool ideas in them.  Speakers who are enthusiastic about their material and willing to explain why it is interesting to people who are not in their field can be a delight to listen to.  I’ve had the best luck with bioinformatics seminars, because the speakers (bioinformaticians, biologists, computer scientists, statisticians, or bioengineers) know that they are talking to a mixed crowd, many of them in different fields, and so take the time to explain why what they do is interesting, rather than just assuming that everyone knows.

So go read Experimental Error: Lies, Damned Lies, and Seminars, laugh at it, then go to a seminar.

2011 January 22

The Very First Apple Movie | Rick’s Algeblog

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 09:19
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I read a lot of math teacher blogs.  A new one that looks promising is, written by Rick Harrington, a math teacher from CT.  I particularly liked his post including the first movie produced on an Apple Macintosh computer: The Very First Apple Movie.

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