Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Two people fall in love over their work. They get married; they win a major award; they have a few children. Then tragedy strikes and he suddenly dies. She takes another lover but he's already married. The whole story is scrutinized under the public eye.

You might be thinking this is another Pitt-Aniston-Jolie triangle or some other troupe. What would you think if I told you the major award they won was a Nobel Prize in Physics?

In her day and age (roughly 1867-1935), Marie Curie was a celebrity. She was the first woman to be a Nobel laureate and the press was captivated by the romance between her and her husband, Pierre. After he died in an accident with a horse-drawn carriage, Marie took a lover, Paul Langevin, and again their story was followed closely but the public. Marie won an additional Nobel Prize. This time in Chemistry.

I learned all this when my cousin, JP, and I went to the New York Public Library exhibit called Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie, A Tale of Love and Fall Out. It beautifully told the story of their discovery of radium and polonium as well as their love lives.

JP and I decided that the Curies were like the superheroes of their day--trying to help the public with science while their personal lives were under a microscope. Their superpower, however, crumbling bones.

Here's your science lesson: Radioactive elements can be deadly for a few reasons, one of which is because of their isotopic properties. You probably know the word isotope to mean something that is similar. A chemical isotope can be consumed and utilized by the body and used in processes like the formation of cell membranes or calcium for bones. So, these radioactive compounds find their way into your bodies and replace healthy elemental building blocks. More specifically, this is bad because the isotopes give off excess energy.

I'd like to be a scientist celebrity one day like Marie Curie with a scientist husband (and subsequent lover when he dies). In addition, I'd like to have superpower, but hopefully one that won't kill me. Wish me luck!

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Tomorrow I start a new job. A science job!

This means my ability to post may decrease, although I'll try my hardest to appease my droves of readers!

My Aunt Mary game me a Laurie Anderson CD on a whim because the title is Big Science. Here are the lyrics to Let X=X, my favorite track.

I met this guy, and he looked like might have been a hat check clerk at an ice rink, which, in fact, he turned out to be. And I said, "Oh boy. Right again." 
Let x=x. You know, it could be you. It's a sky blue sky. Satellites are out tonight. 
Let x=x. You know, I could write a book. And this book would be think enough to stun an ox. 
'Cause I can see the future and it's a place about 70 miles of here. Where it's lighter. 
Linger on over here. Got the time? 
Let x=x. 
I got this postcard and it read, it said: 

Dear Amigo, dear partner,
Listen, uh, I just want to say thanks. So...thanks.

Thanks for all the presents. Thanks for introducing me to the chief. Thanks for putting on the feedbag. Thanks for going all out. Thanks for showing me your swiss army knife. Oh and uh, thanks for letting me autograph your cast. 
Hug and kisses, XXXX0000
 Oh yeah, p.s. I - feel - feel like - I am - in a burning building - and I gotta go. 'Cause I - I feel - feel like - I am - in a burning building.

Hope to be posting again soon.
Hug and kisses, XXXX0000

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Nova ScienceNOW, my latest discovery

I have sunburn! I know it’s not healthy as I come from a family with a history of skin cancer, but I cannot conceal my excitement at the changing of seasons. Yesterday was wildly sunny and I spent the entire day walking the dogs, riding my bicycle, blowing bubbles, and flying a kite. I even had dinner outside! I am so fortunate to bask.

Today, however, the weather is doing a typical spring thing. It rained all morning and now it’s sunny but too cold to be enjoyable. In addition, my body is exhausted from all the sun. This created a perfect opportunity to explore Netflix instant streaming and I found Nova ScienceNOW. I was pleasantly surprised to have made this discovery, as I had been listening to their podcast for years. Hosted by popular astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, @neiltyson, the show has the campy feel of Bill Nye the Science Guy. It conveys solid science and an array of topics that all fall under the same umbrella. There are six episodes, all of which tackle a big question in under an hour.

Now, a word about Neil deGrasse Tyson (NDT). The first time I heard him he was explaining what would happen if I were being squeezed through a black hole. It was not pleasant but very interesting. NDT is an excellent ambassador for scientists. He speaks normal people AND scientist talk—not many can do this. He’s a man’s man with a deep commanding voice and a great stache. NDT makes regular appearances on the Colbert Report, and he puts science on a level that anyone can understand and appreciate it. I am elated to see that he is host of Nova ScienceNOW and if he asked me to grow a great mustache in the name of science, I would try.

Lichen: the NYC haiku

Lichen in the city

Been busy with friends
(family too). Made time for 
lichen though. Please enjoy!