Preposterous Universe

Thursday, April 14, 2005
New York stories

Back in Chicago, for a day or two before flying off once more, after an enjoyable couple of days in New York (and DC before that). I was visiting the Center for Cosmology and Particle Physics, which is an active and fun place to think about fundamental physics and the universe. NYU has been on a hiring binge lately, and the CCPP has the demographics to prove it: Glennys Farrar (PhD 1971) is the sage leader, and the other six faculty members have all received their PhD's since 1992. So they're all at the top of their game, and are helping to make NYU one of the major players in this field. (In a couple of decades they'll just be a collection of old faculty members taking up space; but won't we all? Be old, I mean, not a collection of faculty members.) (Update: Astronomers, apparently, can be useful for quite a long time.)

While in New York, I got to see this blog in the newspaper: there is an article about academic blogging in this week's Village Voice. It's written by Geeta Dayal, who runs the Proven By Science blog. Looks like fellow Chicagoan Eszter Hargittai (of Crooked Timber fame) and I have learned the same lesson from blogging: that you have to actually think through what you are going to say, since it will be read by a bunch of people! Can't be quite as casual as you are when you're just expostulating over coffee. (Readers can judge for themselves how careful I actually am.)

One of the great things about academic blogs is the chance to see through the conventions of scholarly writing and peek at the extracurricular concerns of the flesh-and-blood people who comprise the professoriate. Here is as good an example as you will ever find: Michael Bérubé describing his son Jamie's mastery of Beatles arcana. Jamie, if you aren't familiar with the backstory, has Down's syndrome, but don't let that fool you; when it comes to the lyrics of the John songs and the Paul songs, Jamie will kick your ass.

Ideas on culture, science, politics.
Sean Carroll

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