Arbitrary Chronological Signifiers

By Sean Carroll | December 31, 2006 2:06 pm

Well, I found a new job, moved across the country, and got engaged. What did you do this year? (On the other hand, I finished an anomalously low number of actual research papers. That should change in 2007, as I’m settled down and back in a groove.)

One of the nice things about 2006 (broadly construed) was that I got to meet a lot of people in person whom I had first come to know through their bloggy internet manifestations. So I thought I would share with you the inside scoop on some of the personas behind the web pages.

  • PZ Myers of Pharyngula — I was expecting a mild-mannered Midwestern biology professor, and here it turns out he’s a fire-breathing atheist! Who knew?
  • Melissa McEwan of Shakespeare’s Sister — from the blog you’d think she was a kind soul with a soft spot for Al Gore and a mysterious ability to inspire talented individualists into productive group action. Right you are!
  • Rob Knop of Galactic Interactions — rumored to ride a unicycle into work. Rumors are always true. He totally should have won.
  • Bitch Ph.D. of the eponymous pseudonymous blog — red-haired, beautiful, juggles multiple men while raising precocious child. And has a Ph.D.! You are right to be afraid.
  • Chris Mooney of The Intersection — young, intense, focused on saving the world. Thank goodness somebody is.
  • Eszter Hargittai of Crooked Timber — much taller in real life than on the internet! Has been known to put orange juice in the microwave oven.
  • Dan Drezner of the eponymous blog — like me, booted out of the UofC under inexplicable circumstances. Understands what it’s like to be written about in major news media for reasons other than the reasons you’d really like to be written about.
  • Jennifer Ouellette of Cocktail Party Physics — she seems nice.
  • Lindsay Beyerstein of Majikthise — shorter in real life than on the internet! Of course, on the internet she is a towering figure, far beyond what seems appropriate in one so young.
  • Michael Bérubé of the eponymous blog — who knows? He speaks in a rapid stream of French and Latin puns. But I have the vague impression that he is as engaging and impressive in person as you might surmise from the virtual persona.

And here, in traditional year-ending list-making style, are some of my favorite posts from the year past. Feel free to mention your own, in the unlikely event that I’ve missed something really good. And my lazy good-for-nothing co-bloggers are welcome to choose their own!

You’ll notice that I couldn’t limit myself to the traditional just one per month. Count yourselves lucky that I resisted the temptation to list them all.

Here’s to a joyous and interconnected 2007!

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cosmic Variance, Internet, Personal
  • Charly

    The year 2006 was a good year. I changed my major to physics, got a new job as a nuclear physics research assistant, landed a research internship at MIT for the summer, got interested in dark matter and had the opportunity to meet Sean Carroll at my home institution.

    Thanks for all these great posts; the nerd inside me craves for more and more. But at some point, you DO need to start writing those research papers!

    Wish you all the best for 2007.

  • http://missedagoodone M

    Your engagement announcement. :-)

  • PZ Myers

    Oh, no…you could have broken the news about my rather intense halitosis a little more gently and a little less publicly!

    I’m going to have to chide you about one comment, though: you realize that now everyone else is going to have to avoid saying that Jennifer Ouellette is “nice” because of the excessive freight of meaning you’ve loaded onto the word. The rest of us are all going to have to saying stuff like “Oh, that Ouellette person seems sorta OK,” to make sure that rumors that we’re carrying a torch for her don’t spread.

  • Sean

    M, there was that, wasn’t there? And also I turned 40. A busy year.

  • Phil Plait, aka The Bad Astronomer

    “Jennifer Ouellette of Cocktail Party Physics — she seems nice.”

    Really? You should reserve judgment until you know her better.

  • Chinmaya Sheth
  • citrine

    I got my first full-time faculty position in a community college. Although the folks in this small town are very friendly and are seriously into baking goodies, there’s no one here to talk to in depth about Physics. Many thanks to CV for providing much needed cerebral nourishment. :)

    Sean, your combination of verbal eloquence, observational powers and analytical mind can surely pay greater tribute to Jennifer than to describe her as “seems nice”! Tsk. Tsk.

    Also, you managed to snag Feynman’s desk!

  • eszter

    I am honored to have made the list, even if with these tidbits.:)

    By the way, a clear sign that physics education is lacking in this country is the number of times I have to explain to staff at restaurants that you get room temperature water by mixing some really cold water with some really hot water. An alternative is the microwave, of course.;-)

  • Sean

    citrine, was that a recent event? Congratulations!

  • Andre

    I believe I also fit the bill for your list. Admittedly, we didn’t speak much but I did enjoy your talk. Happy New Year!

  • Shakespeare’s Sister

    I am told that people who have met me are regularly asked, “Does she really talk like that in person?”

    From now on, I will direct people here so they may discover I am more than an f-word spouting crazy person. 😉

  • citrine


    I appreciate your good wishes! Yes, I’ve been on the job for only one semester. I came here expecting to teach just the General and College Physics courses but there’s enough interest in the subject that I’ll be teaching Modern Physics as well, this Spring!

  • Sean

    Andre, yes, I was only including people I had talked with long enough to gaze into their soul, like our President taught me. Have a biocurious new year!

  • Allyson

    Um. You met me. WHY AM I NOT ON THE LIST?

  • Sean

    Allyson, that was a silent rebuke to the infrequency of your blogging. Unless you post more than once a month, you’re not a blogger, just a regular person.

  • Allyson

    Fair enough.

    However, suffer the emoticon.


    I just got a copy of the Physics of the Buffyverse, BTW. Signed to me!

  • Charly

    Do you really have Feynman’s desk???

  • Sean

    Indeed I do.

  • B

    Well, I found a new job, moved across the country, and got engaged. What did you do this year? (On the other hand, I finished an anomalously low number of actual research papers. That should change in 2007, as I’m settled down and back in a groove.)

    Replace ‘engaged’ with ‘married’. I’m trying not to correlate my low output of papers with the blogging 😉 A belated Happy New Year!



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Cosmic Variance

Random samplings from a universe of ideas.

About Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. His research interests include theoretical aspects of cosmology, field theory, and gravitation. His most recent book is The Particle at the End of the Universe, about the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs boson. Here are some of his favorite blog posts, home page, and email: carroll [at] .


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