Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Obama, squirrels, coffee cans

Super Barack Obama at Vertigo Books

Today, Cammy and I were hanging out at Vertigo Books, which is the NPR of bookstores. I pointed at Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, and said that I'd like to write books sort of like that, that are about patterns, rather than things.

My adviser, Dr Eggleton, did simulations of red blood cell physics when he was a post-doc. Really, these were simulations of an elastic membrane under some imposed flow, he just used numbers for a red blood cell. He met a researcher who was working on white blood cell physics, and, later, emailed this researcher, telling him about his work. This other researcher emailed back, 'You study RED blood cells. I study WHITE blood cells.'

When Dr Eggleton told me this, I thought this was funny, because I use the same program Dr Eggleton used, and I just change a couple of numbers to change whether I'm simulating red or white blood cells.

I told Cammy about how I'd heard a bit on NPR about a scientist who studies how fish school, people crowd, and locusts swarm, and how one pattern talks about all of this. I don't want to study squirrels, I want to study how squirrels hide nuts and how people put money in a coffee can and bury it in the backyard, and can't remember where they put it, and won't go digging, because they also buried a deceased pet squirrel somewhere in the backyard.

And Cammy told me about how her sister, Holly, and Holly's friend, Ashley, made a time capsule, and buried it in Ashley's back yard. Now, they can't remember where they buried it, and aren't going to go digging, because Ashley's deceased cat is also buried in the back yard, but Ashley can't recall where, exactly.

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