Next Up!

It’s week 13. 75% of the semester is in the books!

Monday, 4/7: Last drop day for students; Erasing the Distance Performance (12:45-2pm, Rm 103);

Tuesday, 4/8: Faculty Council Meeting (3:30pm, Rm 1046); Humanifest-OH!–Chicago Latino Film Festival Screening of “The Eternal Night of the Twelve Moons” (5:30p, Rm 323); Humanifest-OH! Field Trip: Edward Gorey Exhibit at Loyola University (5:30pm, RSVP to;

Wednesday, 4/9: Les White’s Dad, Dr. Alexander White talks “Lessons from the Holocaust” (5:30-8p, Rm 1115);

Thursday, 4/10: Career Fair (10a-2p, Rm 102/103); Humanifest-OH!–Chicago Latino Film Festival Screening of “The Eternal Night of the Twelve Moons” (11a, Rm 323); Humanifest-OH! Faculty Jazz Recital (11a, Basement!);

Friday, 4/11: SGA Leadership Conference (9:00a-4p, All Over); Humanifest-OH!–Chicago Latino Film Festival Screening of “The Eternal Night of the Twelve Moons” (12:30p, Rm 1115);

Saturday, 4/12: Spring break!







Cross Talk: Physics (again!)

Cross Talk is a regular feature, highlighting three to seven items on some discipline taught at the college. We should all know more about what our colleagues know, teach, and love. Lifelong learning, blah, blah, blah, and all that jazz.

Yes, yes…I’ve missed many of these, and yes, yes, I did Physics earlier, I know. But big things are afoot in the weird world of physics:

~Watch as Stanford physicist Andrei Linde learns about the discovery of supporting evidence for his Cosmic Inflation Theory. I still can’t say that that I remember a time that science made me cry, but my allergies sure did start acting up while I watched (and if you want to know a little more about what was said, some explanation is here):

~Two more explanations of the findings: one in Slate for Humanities majors and one in Wired for those not terrified of sciencey words.The upshot is that they managed to “detect a signal from the beginning of time.”

~Good chance they found “Dark Matter”, too.

~A great piece explaining a famous quantum physics experiment and the very weird findings (a.k.a., Bell’s Theorem).

~This one is probably my favorite out of these. It is a reminder that often Physics is fantastic (as in “fantasy”): “This move beyond the visible has become a fundamental part of science’s narrative. But it’s a more complicated shift than we often appreciate. Making sense of what is unseen—of what lies “beyond the light”—has a much longer history in human experience. Before science had the means to explore that realm, we had to make do with stories that became enshrined in myth and folklore. Those stories aren’t banished as science advances; they are simply reinvented. Scientists working at the forefront of the invisible will always be confronted with gaps in knowledge, understanding, and experimental capability. In the face of those limits, they draw unconsciously on the imagery of the old stories. This is a necessary part of science, and these stories can sometimes suggest genuinely productive scientific ideas. But the danger is that we will start to believe them at face value, mistaking them for theories.”

~Care for an example? How about this: “Life is a Braid in Spacetime.

~On particle smashing (for regular people).

~Probably the universe is just a simulation. Likely a hologram. Maybe some computer from the future trying to figure out how it came to be and running a Monte Carlo experiment. That would explain a lot, wouldn’t it?

~Science is always moving on from ideas and theories, too, as shown by this list of “science ideas ready for retirement,” as chosen by prominent scientists.

~Feynman is still the best, though. Watch this guy talk about Physics for six minutes and try to stay uninterested.There’s a whole series of them. This one was particularly fun to watch.

~And if that freaks you out, there’s always the physics of the curve ball to consider. Oh, and take heart–there aren’t any black holes after all.

Website Wednesday

Website Wednesday is an occasional feature in which we highlight one (or a couple) of sites from the Billions floating around the Intertoobz that just might help you with your Herculean task of educating inquiring minds. Any and all suggestions for future editions are welcome.

Flowing Data is a “Data Visualization, Infographics, and Statistics” site that makes beautiful, fascinating pictures out of numbers. Want to see a visualization of “Where People Run” in a bunch of major cities (such as Chicago)? No problem. Want to see a poster with visualizations of famous movie quotes? No problem. Want to learn about how to make data visualizations or recognize liars or see some great ones? No problem. It’s all there.

College Night at the Goodman Theatre

Buzzer The Goodman Theater has started running a “College Night” for new plays. With $10, a student ID, and a password (see THE FLIER), students can get free pizza while talking to Goodman artists and then see a performance of the latest Goodman play.

The next one is coming up THIS WEDNESDAY, and features a play by Tracey Scott Wilson called Buzzer. It looks like another powerful play from a fantastic playwright and it’s an undeniably great deal.

Please pass the word to your students or at least print and post the flier someplace.

h/t to helpful Goodman intern, Sam Barickman for the heads up.

Weekend Reading: Super Bowl Edition

Haven’t done one of these in a while, but have managed to collect a bunch of stuff on football that might be educationally provocative or useful for someone. So here goes:

~On football intelligence; minds in context;

~If you’re a fan of North Dallas Forty or ever wondered what life was like (in terms of injuries) for NFL players , especially those on the margins, you’ll find this article by a now retired player/skilled blogger captivating; or this one about the “hard life of an NFL long shot;”

~Or maybe you’re considering boycotting the NFL or wondering why some people might–here’s one argument for it;

~One for the Bears fans–on Doug Plank, the original #46;

~Maybe a short piece of Sports Philosophy on team affiliations and adoption?;

~How the money on NFL teams is distributed across positions (a great visual graphic), including this year’s Super Bowl teams;

~Maybe you’ve been following the whole concussion controversy and want to know more–here is a fascinating article on NFL helmets and here is a piece on the concussion-related litigation and the future of the league;

~Or maybe you want to learn more about the teams playing, in which case you should check out Pro Football Reference (for an example of what can be learned with a bit of time and interest, check out this article on injuries in 2012);

~Perhaps you need to read just one more article (or five) on Richard Sherman.

Cognitive Dissonance: A Sports Story about a Transgender Woman

Cognitive Dissonance is a regular Monday feature in which a post is presented that, if read, may provoke “a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth.” I hope these pieces will provoke thought, if not conversation.

If you read about golf or blogs or transgender issues (or all three), you have probably seen this mix of stories unfold over the past two weeks, but if not, it is full of interesting points for discussion.

First there was a story about a putter, published on (ESPN owned) Grantland, that was then pushed out by various means to much acclaim, initially. And then a backlash began. The story, which began as an exploration of a putter and its inventor, morphs into a detective story that features the debunking of various aspects of the life of the inventor (credentials and work experience), but then becomes something else when the author finds out about the inventor’s status as a transgender woman. In the time period between the writer’s initial work on the article and its publishing, Essay Anne Vanderbilt (a.k.a., Dr. V, the inventor of the putter) committed suicide.

1) The original article is here.

2) There was a great response from Cristina Kahrl, who is a sportswriter and editor at Grantland and also a transgender woman.

3) Grantland also published an apology (with explanation) from the Editor that highlights their thinking, their process, their blindspots, and their promises.

4) There was, to be sure, also plenty of commentary about it (as here on Gawker and here from the “paper of record”).

If you only have time or interest to read ONE of these, read either #2 or #3. After that, you might want to read more, but from either you’ll get a good sense of what’s involved. And if you’re interested in reading MORE about the intersection of sports and transgender issues, check out this profile of MMA fighter Fallon Fox and what she goes through. Or this brief piece on another sportswriter who transitioned, quite publicly.

UPDATE: ESPN’s Ombudsman has published an article about the whole thing that describes it as “Understandable, Inexcusable” and runs through a lot of interesting issues from the publishing/reporting/editing side of things, as well as from the human/ethical side of things. Also, the Arizona Republic published a story that includes material gathered from interviewing Essay Anne Vanderbilt’s girlfriend and business partner.