The internet is mean and science is angry

Far be it for me to to let the interwebs tell me how to feel, but with the Olympics and this Presidential race going on, I have this overwhelming need to take a shower, or do jumping jacks, or in my weakest hours, apologize for…simply being American.

Maybe I’m secretly a pleaser, and not as self-confident as I might, too often, toot my own horn about. But people say mean stuff about Americans – especially other Americans, and maybe I want everyone to get along. Or for them to be wrong. But that means I’d have to be right. So, other than to vitiate Salon’s assertions of the American electorate, or to invalidate all Olympic reports of ugly Americans [looking at you, Solo], and of course to defy all Trump memes (like this pithy beaut)…

sheep

…what do I need to prove?

Maybe nothing. Maybe everything. In any case, neither the Olympics nor the election is of paramount importance at this moment. It’s Physics.

It’s angry, and I’m worried about it.

Fine, maybe I exaggerate. But, in my quest to be more thinky, and less…unthinky (I need a thesaurus), I decided to try to learn stuff about science, my second worst subject, after math. Why not try to learn about math? Ummm, ain’t no meme gonna bunch my panties enough to make me wanna do math. (I’m going to need more than a thesaurus.)

Yes, science. Of course, in a fit of American hubris, I decided to start with my worst subject in high school – physics. As I started to peruse Physics/science sites to try to get the most entry-level point, a lot of the topic areas struck me as odd.

Dark matter annihilation

Proton collisions
Recapturing and trapping

Physics just seems so violent and angry. I was hoping for a kinder, gentler, thinky me. But still, I pressed on, until something sounded more like my speed. The word ‘sandwich’ caught my eye, until I realized it was an article about using something called ‘sandwich modules’ to farm solar power from space – an idea, while cool and potentially planet-saving, doesn’t actually result in sandwiches.

Luckily, scientists seem smart enough to realize most of the rest of the world are non science-speakers and have carefully interpreted [dumbed down] some of their most salient principles in ways we can understand. Take for example, physics teacher Mark Betnel. I don’t know if he’s keeping his blog up still, but what I read seemed relatable, as well as informative.

Full disclosure: I must admit that I only came across his site when I googled ‘angry physics’. This led me to one of his posts, which linked me to the super-informative, and highly engaging site of Nicky Case, a game developer who makes public domain playables out of complex ideas like systems thinking and neurons; and through the magic of cool graphics and plain English, makes science (and social/moral issues like coming out, or diversity & segregation) for adults thought-provoking and fun. Okay, well my idea of fun may be different than yours…

If you don’t believe me, try Nicky Case’s take on the Angry Birds phenomenon. If this is physics, then sign me up!

It turns out I know two of the the many awesome scientists whose work I perused and abused to write this blog post. While they are mindbendingly brilliant, they’re also awesome people, who never make science-virgins feel small in their orbit.

See that? “orbit” – I tried to make a science joke.

Yep. Maybe physics isn’t the way to go for me to prove we’re/I’m not all stupid Americans.

 

 

 

 

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* Update: Featured image is of ‘Chemistry Cat‘, courtesy of the nice people at quickmeme.com, via the black hole of Pinterest.