Origami: 108 degrees

This is a monthly feature wherein I show off my origami skills, mourn my photography skills, and talk about math.  I primarily do modular origami.

IMG_0785 (small)

A dodecahedron made of 108 degree modules, apparently invented independently by Robert Neale and Lewis Simon.

I think this is a fairly simple model, since it comes from Beginner’s Book of Modular Origami Polyhedra. But once I tried to teach it to kids, and it’s not a great model to teach to kids, trust me.

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Student groups and volume

Fellow blogger Crys has a good series on cultural differences, particularly between Italy and other countries. Something I like to think about are cultural differences between atheist groups and queer groups.

Back when I was an undergraduate, I joined both atheist and queer student groups. The most obvious difference between the two was that the queer groups were very quiet, and the atheist group was very loud. Queer groups would often have awkward moments of silence, where everyone was hoping someone else will choose to speak. The atheist group was full of interruptions, even when we’d try to impose moderation.

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Villainous intentions

It’s said that intentions don’t matter, but I think they do. When someone says something wrong, it can in fact be excused by the right intentions. For example:

I intended to say something different, but autocorrect failed me!

Here’s a thought: It’s not that intentions don’t matter.  It’s just that the most commonly declared intentions are bad intentions.

We have difficulty admitting that people have bad intentions, partly because we want to see the good in all people, but also because we have absurdly high standards for what counts as evil.  When we imagine evil, we imagine some supervillain who wants to destroy everything just because.  Hardly anyone in the real world has evil intentions quite like that.  Or at least, it never seems that way. [Read more…]

Ribbon physics

At March Meeting, there was a fascinating talk about the phase diagram of ribbons.  Yeah, just like the solid/liquid/gas phase diagram of water!  Their paper is called Helicoids, Wrinkles, and Loops in Twisted Ribbons (see on PRL if you have journal access).  Here’s the first figure:

Ribbon phase diagram

Left side: many possible responses of a stretched and twisted ribbon.  Right side: a phase diagram of the ribbon as a function of stretching force (T) and twisting angle (θ).

The researchers claim, “Our results can be used to develop functional structures”.  I don’t know what that means, but I’m already sold!  I am going to replicate this experiment!

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Who shows up, and who doesn’t

Atheist communities tend to be male-dominated, and that means that the women who show up tend to be atypical in some way.  Those women have some personal background, some personality trait, that lets them cross the barriers that keep most women out.

The same is true of many minority groups.  Atheist communities don’t have many Asian Americans, so the ones who show up are atypical.  There aren’t many vocal aces, so the ones who show up are atypical.  I showed up, so I am atypical.

Here’s something you may not have known.  Atheist communities are dominated by men, but ace communities are dominated by women.  Men make up 12% of the online anglophone community.  I have data!

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Not every scientist is above average

My invitation to FTB caught me at a busy time. Last week, I was at the APS March Meeting, which is the largest physics conference in the world of the year. There were about 10,000 attendees, and about 50 simultaneous sessions throughout the week, with no lunch breaks.

Of course, I manage to find break time anyway. Quite frequently, it seems that there is not one single session going on that would be of interest to me. I just wouldn’t understand them.

In previous years, I used to find this very depressing. On my conference app, I’d bookmark all the sessions on superconductivity, which is my area of study. Then I’d sit in on a session, and find that I understood not a single talk, not even a little. And every 12 minutes there would be another talk, and another, and another, for hours. Then I’d try going to a different room focused on superconductivity, and the same thing would happen again.

It’s no wonder that impostor syndrome is so common among physicists.
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I was not joking about the copy/paste

Now that I have a bit more spare time, I added a few things to the sidebar. My comment policy is basically ad hoc until I get used to FTB commenters. And my asexuality 101 page is copied over from my previous blog. It’s short.

I used to give workshops on asexuality about five years ago, and back then the audience knew basically zero. If you have basic questions about asexuality, I can answer them no problem. But in general, I expect more from my readers here. Occasionally I’ll crosspost articles to The Asexual Agenda, and those are explicitly written at a higher level for ace readers, so get used to it. That is all.