I’ve had the idea for a while now to dedicate one of my “Life” posts to my partner, Daniel Schussheim, and his PhD work. It probably came to me when he wrote up a draft of “What I do at grad school” for his parents and I using the Up-Goer Five Text Editor. This editor forces you to write something up using only the top ten-hundred (1000) words in the English language. It’s a way to get you thinking about how you might explain a difficult idea or concept in the simplest language in order to reach a broader audience (another great teaching tool, like those I mentioned last week).
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While writing up this blog post, I was worried that it might not be very classy of me to dedicate one of my “Life” posts to my boyfriend on International Women’s Day. But then I started thinking about what it means to me to be a feminist. Emma Watson’s 2014 UN speech on gender equality and the HeForShe initiative sums up my feelings quite accurately:
So in honor of International Women’s Day, I’d like to dedicate my “Life” blog post to the Ben to my Leslie, my biggest fan, my kite string, my partner in life. I am proud of what we are together, of who he is and what he believes, and of how he grows as a person and as a scientist each and every day. As Jim Carrey said in the movie Bruce Almighty, “Behind every great man is a woman rolling her eyes.” The following text is Daniel’s Up-Goer Five description of his Ph.D. work with atomic, molecular, and optical physics.
What I (try) to do:
If you point these lights at tiny pieces of stuff, you can make them shake, especially if the color of the light is close to the color of the shaking. If you shake the tiny pieces the right way, you make them get really cold. REALLY cold. Like a hundred hundred hundred times colder than space (and sometimes even colder)! When we make this really cold stuff, we also hold it in a really small space. When we hold the cold stuff like this we can see how it shakes REALLY well. In fact, we can see how it shakes far better than we can see ANYTHING else.
For a long time (since people started to grow food themselves, rather than just find it on the ground) people have used shaking things to tell time. First we used the shaking of the sun and night-sun to tell how many days passed. Then we used rocks and sticks to look at the day-light more carefully so we could break the day into smaller pieces. Later we learned that shaking sticks can tell time even better. Much later we learned that if we push on some types of rocks, and then put the stuff from the wall that powers our phones through the rocks, we can tell time even better!
I am trying to make tiny pieces of stuff really cold and look at how it shakes to tell time. No one has done this with the stuff I am using... yet. It might be able tell time ten hundred times better than the tiny cold stuff we use to tell time now. This can help make the directions your phone gives you even better, tell us when the ground will shake and knock stuff down, and help us know if our guesses for how things work are really right.