Thursday Night Reading List

I’m sorry for the radio silence! Between classes, the job hunt, and wrangling health insurance from my school, it’s been a busy week and a half. I actually have some posts coming down the pipe in the next couple of days or so, but until then, I’d like to share with you some of the interesting articles I’ve been reading when I’ve had the time to.

Image: A Photoshop of Isaac Newton's head imposed upon a man's body while riding in a moving bumper car.

PAIGI: Things That Going Bumper Car In The Night

In Monday’s reference class, we looked at a variety of virtual reference interactions, and one of the example queries immediately grabbed my attention — because, of course, it was about physics! Unfortunately, it was part of an example of a horrid reference interview, but it did have me wondering: could I have answered the question if I had been the librarian at the desk for that patron? Let’s find out! It’s PAIGI (Physics As I Get It) time!

Here is the question: “When you drive forward in a bumper car at high speed and you slam into the car in front of you, you find yourself thrown forward in your car. Which way is your car accelerating?”

I admit, I am not as far into my independent physics studies as I would like, but that’s okay. I’ve already read a good bit about acceleration and the mechanics of objects in motion, so I’ll try to tackle this question with what I know already and supplement the inevitable gaps with research online.

Note: all definitions and equations, unless cited otherwise, are paraphrased from the fifth edition of W. Thomas Griffith’s “The Physics of Everyday Phenomena”.

Continue reading

A Map Of The Cat: Tell Me What You Really Want

Richard Feynman, before he revolutionized physics and became the leading figure in quantum electrodynamics, was just an average (well, maybe not average) college student the day he walked into his campus library and asked for one thing: a map of the cat.

The poor librarian working the biology section that day was aghast. “A map of the cat, sir?” One can imagine the horror in her voice, the absolutely shocked expression on her face.

She managed, however, to set young Feynman straight. She led him to the appropriate zoology materials and to the charts that he needed –  the “maps” of the cat he was asking for. This story can be read in full in his book, SURELY YOU’RE JOKING, MR. FEYNMAN! (which is an absolute gem of a read no matter what your field is), and Scientific America samples this charming anecdote in a great write-up as Feynman as biologist.

When I first read that story last year as an undergrad English student, I laughed at Feynman’s ineptitude and the naivety of a physics genius barging into the world of biology and attempting to conquer its vocabulary, only to stumble a bit at the starting line. Later, after spending a little time in the LIS program, studying reference work and the functions of the reference desk, I feel sorry for Little Richard. And I certainly do not feel sorry for the librarian!

Continue reading

Science, Learning, and the Idea of PAIGI

This evening, I attended a panel discussion titled “What Does A Trump Administration Mean For Science?” and I can safely say that it could have benefited from a much larger room. I was lucky enough to get a seat, but there were people standing on the side of the room and sitting on the floor. People really wanted answers, regardless of it being a Friday evening when other things are going on.

From the hour-plus-long event, there were some key points that stood out to me:

  1. Students should be more involved in the process of scientific funding, research, and policy writing.
  2. Science should be spread out and shared in an accessible way to all people, not just STEM folks.
  3. Science literacy is more important now than it has been in years.

Continue reading

Shaking The Tip Jar

Quick update as we head into the new semester: eagle eyed visitors will notice the Ko-Fi button on the right side of the screen. I’ll also include it below, in case it does not show up on mobile.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Grad school definitely isn’t cheap, and everybody needs help now and then making it through the week. I don’t expect Ko-Fi to pay the bills but if you’ve enjoyed my writing or just feel a bit generous, maybe drop a few bucks in the bucket for the occasional coffee or study snack? I’d be forever grateful for any donations anyone can spare.

We Are Number One

2016 has been a raging dumpster fire of a year, but today I really just need to remind myself of how well I have succeeded over the past 12 months. I have graduated from UMSL with a BA in English, a member of the honors college, and as magna cum laude, during which I had work published in both Litmag (the spring college mag) and Bellerive (the honors college’s fall mag). I am now going to UIUC for my masters in library and information science, after spending 2 years working in the Thomas Jefferson Library, which ultimately cemented my decision to shift from English to LIS. I also got out of the house more, met a lot of amazing people, read a lot of great stuff, did some great writing, and established some wonderful relationships with my professors and supervisors that I hope continue in 2017 and beyond.

So, yeah. You know what? Wasn’t all bad. Positivity still survives somewhere in the world, even if sometimes I forget that it exists. We are number one. We got this. Bring it on, 2017. We are the heroes now.