An Evening of Pots

November 24, 2018

Now that we live further away from scorching desert heat, Rachel and I have been attempting to expand our porch-garden. When we saw a good deal on glazed clay pots, we figured it was probably time to commit to moving our plants out of spare storage bins and mop buckets. Loading our haul into the car, I momentarily visualized the potential disaster I was creating, in which the fragile ceramics broke loose from their rudimentary restraints and started rolling around in the trunk.

It turns out it was a vision of the future, since that outcome occurred immediately with the first turn out of the parking lot. One pot broke, and in a complication I did not foresee, the two big ones I had nested inside each other wedged themselves together. Despite my frustrated tugging, they remained stubbornly fused. I set them in the living room, repeating my prior attempts each time I passed by.

Enter Adam, my equally nerdy geeky Child Neurology co-intern. He saw the pots in the living room and I explained my current plight. Naturally he took it as a puzzle, and before long we had set about attempting to use the Power of Science to separate them. We filled the bathtub with hot water…and quickly discovered that the water was far too hot to stand in. We solved that temporary setback by putting a cooler in the tub that I balanced in about as awkwardly as Davy Jones on land.

Once we had the pots established in the tub, we filled the inner pot with ice water and dish soap. After about an hour of equilibration, we banged them on the ground over a soft towel. With an ceramic clunk, they separated, hardly worse for the wear. Voilà!

PhD Candidate!

October 27, 2012

Yesterday I presented and defended my PhD thesis. Spoiler: I passed! I’m now a PhD candidate, meaning that the only thing standing between me and my first doctorate…is more than a year of dedicated research.

It’s kind of a big deal, as they say, so I’m going to allow a bit of self-satisfaction.

A big thanks to everyone who has supported and endured me up to now.

Imagine, Sharing a Day with Your Hero

May 20, 2012

Additional notes from the author:

  • If you want to learn more about Tesla, I highly recommend reading Tesla: Man Out of Time
  • Also, this Badass of the week by Ben Thompson is what originally inspired me to write a comic about Tesla. Ben’s also got a book out which is packed full of awesome.
  • There’s an old movie from the 80s on Netflix Instant Queue right now about Tesla: The Secret of Nikola Tesla. It’s corny and full of bad acting, but it paints a fairly accurate depiction of his life.
  • The drunk history of Tesla is quite awesome, too.
  • X-rays: just to clarify, Tesla did not discover x-rays, but he was one of the early pioneers in its research.
  • Cryogenic engineering: I’m referring to the cryogenic engineering that has to do with using liquified air to cool a coil and reduce its electrical resistance (Patent No. 11,865), not freezing people and waking them up in the future so they can fight Wesley Snipes.
  • Transistor: Tesla’s influence on the modern transistor can be found in patents 723,188 and 725,605. (a better explanation here)
  • Radio: Tesla was the nicest geek ever until he decided to sue Marconi a few years later. 8 months after Tesla died, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Marconi’s patents on the invention of radio. So Tesla eventually won that battle, although he was dead by then.
  • Tesla VS Edison: I could write a novel on the differences between Tesla and Edison, but seeing as how this comic is already huge I decided to leave many things out. For instance, Edison killed cats and dogs, but Tesla loved animals and had a cat as a child. Originally Tesla wanted to be a poet, but after getting zapped by static electricity from his kitty he was inspired to study the effects of electricity. One could vaguely construe that Tesla’s cat was responsible for the second industrial revolution, which arguably makes it the most awesome cat who ever lived.
    Edison believed that fossil fuels were the future and that there were enough resources in South America to provide for the next 50,000 years. Tesla believed that renewable energy sources like hydroelectric, solar, and wind power were the future. This is remarkable because in the 1890s there was no such thing as “going green,” so Tesla’s ideas on conservation were very forward-thinking at the time.
  • Lastly, a big thank you to Jane C. Daugherty for proofreading this article for me. If you want to learn things from the most awesome librarian this side of the North American tectonic plate, follow her on Twitter.
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Nikola Tesla, aka Tony Stark in real life, reminds us that visionary, multitalented geniuses can and do exist. Nikola Tesla Day, July 10, also happens to be my birthday. Sometimes I imagine I get to give him a high five.

Serve Chilled

October 6, 2011
Tuesday was a long but productive day during which Appy and I ran two experiments in parallel, nested so that we worked on one while waiting for a step in the other. I decided that at the end of the day we needed to do something fun to reward ourselves.