New Plan

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I’m toying with restarting this blog. The idea is to look at the life of a graduate student in science with the sort of perspective that comes from being Catholic-I want to write about wonder, which was always my plan, and curiosity, and how  the approach towards the universe which Catholicism has taught me changes the way I view my studies and research. I don’t intend to write a “Religion and Science Blog”. This is simply a blog reflecting on what it’s like to be a graduate student. Blogs are like journals, except they’re not private and therefore open to discussion. That’s what I want. To have discussions.


Long term forcast

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“Well folks, it’s time for the acad-vision three month forecast. We use a complex combination of long term climate models–utilizing the Syllabus algorithm–short term observations, and a pair of dice to give you a chance to prepare for events in the not-so-far-but-not-so-close future.

The coming weeks will be dominated by mostly fair weather with clouds increasing later in the month. A work-load ridge will slowly build-up, dominated by a Jackson system which will create some electric instability in the air. What out for lightning folks!  The wild card is the position of the jet stream, which may direct more work our way if a research front drops from the north. Based on activities last month in Europe, we give this an 80% chance of happening before the end of October due to a proceedings and paper trough developing in the North Pacific.

A respite will come at the end of the month when a series of birthday fronts will lighten up the skies. However, furious weather arrives immediately after that thanks to a midterm arriving out of the northwest. We are confident that this will be associated by a Jackson front, however a Pathria front may also be thrown into the mix. Behind all this activity will be small contributions from a subtropical Stellar system, which will feed moisture into the system and strengthen any storms which may develop.

Once the midterm passes, weather will only clear up slightly. Models show increasing cloud cover with winds shifting from the north due to a stationary homework system which will deepen in the weeks to follow. A respite may come in late November, but models are not clear. Immediately following that we see a ‘one-two’ punch in the form of an exam system–likely a Jackson front–and then a triple exam system. This latter system may be a real doozy. Be prepared for high winds, sleet, and cool temperatures for upwards of a week. Currently we don’t predict any snow, but just messy, disgusting weather. Once this system passes however, there is pleasant, seasonal weather for the rest of the year, perhaps with some  weather more akin to the southern Great Lakes for a week or so around Christmas.”


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It is time to start writing again, even as my summer passes and fills with more activity, ushering in a most hectic academic year.

There is much worth discussing every week. For example, this past week saw the dissemination, then denial, the modification and further denial of rumors of rumors about the detection of the Higgs Boson at Fermilab. The sources of the rumors of rumors are responding to criticism with a discussion on the importance of engaging the public. I agree that engaging the nonscientific public in science is important, not in the least since they fund it. However, rumors? They chose a risky path. Still, if I heard a rumor, which I honestly believed to be true, about the discovery of the Higgs boson, I would have great difficulty in containing myself. My great excitement this week related to reading papers about dark stars, which I’ll discuss here at a later time.

Outside of science, a great discussion which came to my mind this week that I find worth discussing is the need for an annotated copy of Les Miserables. So many now obscure French references fill that book but when I take the time to seek out explanations of who Babeuf and Lacenaire and Quenisset (see September 13, 1841) were my experience becomes all the richer.


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Well the semester has been busy but I still exist. I resolve to return to this once exams end next week.

Monday Midwestern Minute: Valentine’s Day Edition

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Valentine’s Day is often decried as a “Hallmark” holiday. Of course the day is much older than Hallmark. However in Ohio and the Midwest we have something much closer to a Hallmark holiday on the third Saturday of October.

Like most holidays that involve giving gifts, Sweetest Day started as day in which one was supposed to remember the less fortunate by giving them sweet things, like candy. Therefore, it might be unjust to credit its inventor, a 1920’s candy maker in Cleveland, of inventing a holiday for profit. However,  nowadays it has moved to an excuse to expect and/or give cards, candies, and plush toys. Indeed, unlike Valentine’s Day, which is accepted as a day for expressing affection with or without gifts (though interesting studies suggest that gift giving is a very important social action associated with bonding and friendship),  Sweetest Day seems to have as its sole purpose the giving of gifts, especially chocolates

The day hasn’t quite caught on beyond the Great Lakes. Indeed, my parents never celebrated it, and it was only from my grandparents that I learned of the holiday. But, just in case, if you’re ever wooing a Great Lakes guy or gal, it might be good to remember this date. At the worst you’ll impress them with your knowledge of mid-American culture.

Wondering Wednesday…on Thursday.

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One would think that a weeks worth of snow days would permit me to keep up on blogging, but not so! Thus, here is yesterday’s post, today.

This is the Valentine’s Day edition:

I am wondering if there is a connection between the origins of the heart as the seat of love and the butterflies in the stomach/ funny feeling in the chest feeling that comes with nervousness, excitement, longing, general “lovey-dubby” feelings, ect.

I’ve read that in certain ancient cultures the heart was deemed the seat of knowledge. But why? And is that also connected to why the heart is associated with love? I also wonder if this is a learned association…would someone never exposed to the idea hold their hands crossed over their heart and say, “I love you” ?

What are you wondering about this week?

The Aftermath

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2+ Feet of Snow piled along sidewalks

A snowy sidwalk in Brookland after the North American Blizzard of 2010.

Snowy sidwalks in Washington DC

Piles of snow in Brookland

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