Late Late Cocktail Party Physics

By Phil Plait | April 24, 2011 7:03 am

My pal Jennifer Ouellette, who writes the delightful blog Cocktail Party Physics, was recently interviewed at Tech Republic. As usual, she’s fun to read.

On that page they embedded the video of Jennifer when she appeared on Craig Ferguson’s TV show, which I totally forgot to do when she was on! So here’s the video of her talking about her book The Calculus Diaries:

See? Told you she was cool.

Related posts:

Diary of dangerous curves
Significant praise
Your late night talk shows: giff dem to me

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, Humor, TV/Movies

Comments (21)

  1. bkallee

    What great fun. Cool just begins to describe her. Still smiling.

  2. Zucchi

    Nice woman, but I can’t recommend “The Calculus Diaries”. It has irritating errors, and, in my opinion, emphasizes the wrong elements of calculus (given that it’s intended for non-Math majors).

  3. davidlpf

    Now why can’t you get on Ferguson?
    Also learn how to play the mouth organ.

  4. I agree with davidlpf, your coolness factor is plummeting. You can’t get on Colbert or Ferguson, but other cool scientists are. You may not need that restraining order against me anymore. 😉

  5. Zucchi (#2): I’m sorry you didn’t like the book, but it’s not really fair for you to say it has errors in it without giving examples. And if you do have a problem with it, I suggest you contact Jennifer through her blog and discuss it with her. All books have errors in them – it’s a fact of life – and I know most authors (and I include myself) would prefer to correct them in later printings.

  6. davidlpf

    Larian (#4) It is like he should write a book, host a tv show and maybe do a couple of podcast interviews now and then.

  7. davidlpf, you know, if only he could. 😀

    BTW, I did record and watch the 3rd episode of Bad Universe. Any word on its continuation? And I only counted 2 “Holy Haleakala”. :)

  8. Patkarnes

    Is it wrong that people like phil and jenifer are my rock stars? I would much rather meet them than an actor or musician, except rush phil you can’t beat rush

  9. 1. She is cool.
    2. Craig is also cool.
    3. But why is it cool and funny to brag about not knowing physics and math. I’m developing allergy to this. Not only in talk shows but even regular reporters, celebrities, damn everyone has to mention how much they sucked at math and science in school and just how they don’t understand anything about science. Like it’s fashionable to be dumb ignorant. I hate it. It’s OK to be up to date with celebrity gossip and to watch crap TV, that’s not shame. But it’s a complete disgrace to understand where gold came from, why sky is blue, what’s escape velocity and what’s geostationary orbit. :(

    I know Craig’s introduction wasn’t that bad, sorry for rant, but as I mentioned I’m gettin’ allergic to that…

  10. Craven,

    Do I have a book suggestion for you!

    It is a sad comment on the average citizen. I think Neil deGrasse Tyson also had something relevant to say on the subject:

    Patkarnes, it’s not at all wrong. It’s a good thing!

  11. Patkarnes

    Well the only rockstars and stuff that I actually enjoy are ones that sing about stuff that shows they have intelligence, unfortunately that is very few these days!

  12. Don Q

    Hey. I just ‘learned’ that water is, apparently, a *compressible* fluid, “like a sponge”.

    I had always thought that traffic surges had much less to do with physics and were more a function of human psychology (distracted driving, delayed and over-reactions, watching only the rear bumper of the car immediately ahead of you, etc.).

    But apparently it’s because of universal and immutable laws of physics. I learn something new from English majors everyday.

    And, anyway… when the following distance in traffic gets closer, isn’t that compressing? Seems to me like water is *not* compressible and traffic is. But, then again, I’m not an English major.

    The problem with ‘popular’ physics like this… Now, every time I say something like “water is a non-compressible fluid” (for all practical purposes), all of the TV geniuses (those that now are authorities on physics or whatever because of what they saw on TV & movies) know for a fact that anything else I say should be discounted because I don’t even know ‘as much’ as they do about physics (electronics, chemistry, math, geology, weather, etc.) Manager types are notorious for this.

    I think this type of ‘knowledge’ is a large part of why the masses don’t trust scientist types. Scientists are all the time saying things that contradict the ‘facts’ as learned on TV. If the scientist can’t even get the basics ‘right’, the TV educated masses are certainly not going to trust the scientist’s conclusions.

    Generating interest in these fields is important, but it is probably *more* important for the information to be correct.

  13. Thanks Larian! Actually problems mentioned in this book are not exclusive to US. While there are no creationits movements in Poland, I see similar problems – ignorance is cool, intellect can only get praise when it’s used for witty scorning celebrities.
    I may give it a try, but I’m afraid this book will only get me more depressed, but thanks for recommendation. Or is there a happy ending, promising wave of reason?

  14. Jennifer is smart, entertaining, energetic, enthusiastic. and cute. Such a package! Among the things I learned, however, is that Craig is not as dumb as he says he is (unless he got that stuff about the Venturi effect from Jennifer beforehand).

    That was a fun interview!

  15. Patrick

    I wonder why people visit phils blog if they dont appreciate the same things he does is it to argue with him or put his friends down? Trust me I dont claim to be a scientist and most of what I know comes from websites and shows like bad astronomy, but I have taken afew physics classes, but unless I have a phd by my name I dont think I would argue with someone who does

  16. RM

    Wow, she is a REALLY good sport! Thoroughly enjoyed it. Thanks for posting.

    p.s. And I always thought that was just called a “harmonica”..

  17. John Paradox

    11. Patkarnes Says:
    April 24th, 2011 at 11:31 am

    Well the only rockstars and stuff that I actually enjoy are ones that sing about stuff that shows they have intelligence, unfortunately that is very few these days!

    They Might Be Giants?


  18. Rory Kent

    @Craven #9

    “But it’s a complete disgrace to understand where gold came from, why sky is blue, what’s escape velocity and what’s geostationary orbit.”

    In that case scientists must be fairly disgraceful.

  19. Tobin Dax

    @RM I’ve always called it a harmonica, but I know that “mouth organ” is an alternate name for the instrument. I was under the impression that “mouth organ” is a dated term, though maybe that’s why he uses it. :)

  20. réalta fuar

    Much as I dislike Craig Ferguson (if you want to hear a GOOD comedian with a “funny” accent try Dara Ó Briain, who happens to have a math and physics degree also), Cocktail Party Physics IS a very entertaining blog. The irony here is that Ms. Ouellette’s physics blog, by an English major, is much more educational and entertaining than that of her husband, theoretical physicist Sean Carroll. Maybe English majors can do interesting things after all, and not just grow up to be deans, provosts, etc. :).

  21. Pepijn

    He has a TARDIS on his desk! Excellent. Can’t be much wrong with someone with a TARDIS on his desk.


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