November 21, 2007

Some bubble updates

In keeping with my habit of bringing you periodic bubble-related news, here are a few things

-If you're like me, you've often wondered how life would have evolved on Earth if it proceeded along the lines of competing "asteroid" style bubble arachnids*. This game takes that premise and runs with it. Good for at least 20 minutes of numbing flash-based entertainment.

-I got an email a while ago asking for submissions to Brown's quarterly science-lit magazine. So I thought, hmmm, I might have something appropriate for that. A few days later an editor gets back to me saying, to my surprise, that's it's perfect and they want to use it. Yes! More of that recognition I so richly deserve from elite campus publications. So that's good, and I don't think about it for two weeks. Until I get another email from this editor saying they have discussed it at their editor meeting and someone is concerned that readers will mistake it for a serious piece and take offense. They want to print a disclaimer above my article noting that it is a joke. As in, SATIRE: PLEASE DO NOT BE OFFENDED. I don't know what exactly they wanted to put, but I can assume that it was along the lines of:

The editors of this magazine would like to point out to you, Ivy League University students, that although we are all extremely intelligent and sophisticated, you may be unable to discern the subtle use of satire in the following essay. Rest assured that this absurd piece of writing is humorous in nature, and not intended to suggest in a serious fashion that a causal link exists between an innate female affinity for bubbles and a preference for academic careers in the field of astrophysics.
Needless to say, I wasn't really amenable to this idea. First of all, it's not a joke. And once my grant** comes in, I can prove it once and for all. Secondly, if it was a joke, hypothetically speaking of course, it would be completely ruined by starting it with a disclaimer. Can you imagine if Jonathan Swift had titled his famous essay "A Modest Satirical Proposal"? Things like that are funny because they have the illusion of coming from a position of authority. (Yes, I just compared myself to Jonathan Swift.) I guess there is a certain demographic at Brown that gets offended by prettymuch anything, and the fear of their reaction is enough to strike caution into the hearts of writers here. But I still have to wonder what, precisely, they were worried these people would think. "Hey, this guy is implying that a reason he obviously made up causes women go into an intellectually demanding field instead of an equally difficult one! How dare he! I get riled up by anything addressing gender discrepancy in science that is even remotely lighthearted!"
In the end, it turned out that despite what their initial call for submissions said, they only wanted stuff from undergrads. So we dodged that bullet...

-Zosia, tireless promoter of my theory (Chicago branch), mentioned to me that her boyfriend just published a string theory paper with "bubbles" in the title. This invites an addendum to my hypothesis: female astrophysicists even like guys who work on bubbles or bubble-related issues. Make a note of it fellows.

OK, now that's a bit chauvinistic.

*Instead of being created 400 years ago by Jesus. Riding a dinosaur.

**My research requires 40 metric tons of bubble-blowing solution and salaries for least 500 subjects willing to major in physical sciences for the purpose of the experiment.

[photo credit]