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.
Cool news, math dorks: my friend Jennifer Ouellette’s new book The Calculus Diaries comes out today!
I’ve known Jennifer for a couple of years now. She helms the Science and Entertainment Exchange (trying to get better science into movies), she spoke (wonderfully) at TAM 7, she was at SETIcon and Comic Con, and I also know her through her husband, cosmologist Sean Carroll — he blogs for the Hive Overmind at Cosmic Variance. Jennifer writes the Cocktail Party Physics blog and for the Discovery Channel blogs, too… and I am not ashamed to admit I have a wild crush on her avatar, Jen-Luc Piquant. So I was really excited to get my hands on an advance copy of her book, especially since I knew she could handle the topic well.
It was everything I had hoped for. Yeah, look, I know: it’s a book about calculus. But it just so happens to be a really good book about calculus! It’s not equations and homework — well, OK, there are equations — it’s really stories and fun and personal tales punctuated with how calculus gives us insight into the backstory. I know a bit of math, but didn’t know that calculus can be used to describe the Dutch tulip boom of the 17th century, or why you may not need to worry about a zombie horde (because by the time you know it’s happening, it’s too late to do anything about it except start getting used to shambling and eating brains).
Jennifer uses her great writing style to make these ideas easy to read and fun to think about. I suspect that if you like my blog, you’ll like this book. If math terrifies you then you can skip over the equations (though honestly, you’re missing out), and if you like the math you’ll love the way it gets applied here.
All in all, I recommend it. If you hurry, you can still read it on the beach during these last days of summer… or get her to sign it at Dragon*Con next week!
P.S. There’s a Facebook page for it, too.
I was pleasantly surprised to see my old friend Kevin Grazier — planetary scientist with Cassini, and science advisor for Battlestar Galactica and Eureka — highlighted in a Eureka Unscripted blog post. It’s a two-parter, with the second one going up sometimes soon.
At the same time, it was cool to see another friend, Jennifer Ouellette, talking about the science of Eureka as well! I like the show, and while the science is sometimes warped a bit (or a lot) for story-telling, I know for a fact the executive producer and writers try to get as much right as they can. The EP, Jaime Paglia, is a smart and funny guy; I was on a panel with him at Comic Con a couple of years ago (with Kevin, too!) and moderated one that he was on as well. His role is not that of a science teacher, but a story teller. But even so, he and his team, strive to base what they do on solid science.
Plus? It’s just a fun show. That’s why I like Fringe, too. Look: I am the biggest hard case you’ll find when it comes to accuracy in science fiction, but even I know when to hang it up if the story is fun. That way I can actually sit back and enjoy stuff like Doctor Who and Star Trek without getting all twisted up into a pseudo-Riemannian 11-dimensional manifold.
See what I did there? Yeah, if you did, you’re a dork too.