Our month in Ireland

 Field Day Soaps https://www.fielddayireland.ie/scented-soap/soaps

Field Day Soaps https://www.fielddayireland.ie/scented-soap/soaps

In the beginning of the year my job required me to move to San Francisco (we live in New York) so that I could teach Metis' data science bootcamp. I took my 15 month old daughter with me and we rented a place in Telegraph Hill. My husband joined us for most of our time there and we had an amazing time. My husband said he hadn't seen me that happy in a long time. I think the combination of teaching and thinking about mathematical concepts every day reminded me how much my brain needs these activities to feel well. The past few years I had been mostly managing a team so it was nice to get back to teaching. In SF, my commute to work was my favorite thing: in the mornings I would just walk down the hill on Montgomery St all the way to SOMA and arrive at our offices at 149 New Montgomery St. The nice breeze and the gorgeous view energized me for the day.

It was no surprise then, that when my husband was invited to be a researcher in physics at Maynooth University in Ireland, we followed him along. I must say, it was one of my childhood dreams to live a nomadic life and it feels great to move around and experience different places/cultures as a family. We spent one month in Dublin and while my husband worked in Maynooth, I stayed in Dublin, took care of our daughter and continued my job as Chief Data Scientist at Metis remotely. I'm really grateful to Kaplan and Metis for allowing me to continue my work while away from my New York office. The good news is that I was able to meet with some local companies and people with whom we may work in the future. Data science is indeed a global business. So all in all it was a win-win. The weather was actually super nice most of the time (about 20 degrees C with relatively little rain) contrary to most people's expectations. We visited Galway and Connemara on the west coast and we also went to the local farm Airfield Estate Farm which was a blast!

In the beginning, adapting to Dublin was not easy. The city is lovely but understanding the local accent was a bit difficult. The most challenging aspect was finding a local child minder (nanny) to take care of our daughter while I worked US hours. For two weeks I tried to work with different minders but she would just cry the whole time. And it was immensely hard for me to trust someone I hardly knew with my baby. This aspect of the nomadic life we are living is the hardest and I'd love to know how other traveling working moms do it. Half way through our trip, I met with Paddy Cosgrave and his wife Faye who were really generous and allowed us to share their child minder Fabiana. She was a game changer for us! And our last two weeks in Dublin were amazing because we had her help. I knew Paddy because I had been invited to speak at his conference, the Dublin Web Summit, 7 years ago. I'm proud to say that his conference has continued to grow and is still the largest tech conference in Europe. Collision has now moved to Portugal and other countries.

During one of the weekends we flew as a family to London so that I could film more episodes for season 10 of the TV show I co-host Outrageous Acts of Science. I can hardly believe it's been 7 years since we started this show and it now feels like we are all part of a large family. I love doing science TV. Having the opportunity to inspire people while explaining complex scientific concepts in easy ways has been an incredible adventure! While we were in London we filmed in a studio in Greenwich which gave us the opportunity to visit the world's Prime Meridian. And to make it even more special, we were join by my co-host physicist, presenter and geeky songstress Helen Arney. We had a blast! After that, my daughter and I stayed for a few days in London at the Marylebone Hotel and we went out to dinner to Sketch to celebrate Mother's Day. It was so much fun to have ladies time alone.

Back in Dublin we continued our daily routine. My husband would leave in the mornings for Maynooth and I stayed in Dublin while I took care of our daughter in the mornings and then worked US hours in the afternoon. We rented an apartment in the area of Grand Canal Dock, where many of the tech companies are located (Google, Facebook, etc...). It was very close to the Liffey river so we went for nice walks along the water. It was a bit too far from the city center for my taste, but we made it work. In the mornings I managed to organize a few activities with my daughter. We had a great day painting at Giddy Studios in Dundrum. We went to the Panda Play cafe in Ballsbridge (she loved it!) and we even managed to join the Handiclap classes in the city. My favorite thing was going to the playground at St Stephens Green park—what a gorgeous park!

In one of our last evenings, we took my husband's colleague, the head of the chemistry department and a kickass woman in science Jennifer McManus out for dinner. While at the excellent restaurant Mulberry Gardens, I discovered the brand Field Day when I went to the ladies room. It smelled wonderfully! It was the Rose aroma so I made a point to buy it and in turn try a few of the soaps as well. I haven't been disappointed! I particularly love the Sea smell and it reminds me of the Ireland coast. I hope to be back someday, and enjoy an pint of Guinness and walk along the Liffey one more time. For now, we are off to Cambridge in the UK. See you soon!

Outrageous Acts of Thinking: The Misuse of Science

I met an installation artist at a dinner party a couple of months ago. When she asked what I did, I told her I was a physicist.

"I love physicists," she gushed. "I work with a tribe in the Amazon and they are more quantum mechanical than us."

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"Quantum mechanical, you know...more spiritual, less materialistic than the Western world. "

Physicist Wolfgang Pauli's phrase came to mind: "That's not even wrong." I had the decency not to say it, but instead pointed out that she was using the words "quantum mechanical" inappropriately.

"They're not your words," she said. "I can use them as I please."

Of course. In her eyes, science is rife with outrageous ideas, so why wouldn't her outrageous analogy be equally valid?

Once I overcame my frustration, I started to think about the misuse and misunderstanding of scientific ideas. What distinguishes an outrageous idea from a reasonable one? And how are these different from a true or a false idea? I suspect that many people confuse reasonable/outrageous with true/false, which contributes to difficulties they have in understanding the sometimes counterintuitive scientific findings.

To address this confusion, I offer pragmatic definitions (quibblers, you have been warned!) of the words reasonable, outrageous, true and false as they apply to scientific ideas.

An idea that I find reasonable is one that fits with my perceptions and current knowledge. An outrageous idea doesn't agree with my perceptions or preconceived notions of reality i.e., current theories of the natural world. (The word current is key: an outrageous idea can become reasonable over time.) A true idea has been thoroughly tested and agrees with available evidence. Note that scientific truths are provisional and can be upended by new evidence. A false idea is one where theory and reality don't agree. That is, the phenomenon being studied can be explained by a different concept than the one proposed or it cannot yet be explained.

By combining the reasonable/outrageous categories with the true/false one, we can gain insight into how science works (see table below).

Who says Science Movies Don't Matter?

When I was 12, my father took me to The Children's Museum in Mexico City to see a movie that I remember as Planets, Moons and Stars. It was unlike any movie I had seen before. There were no good and bad guys or furry animals -- just colorful spheres rotating around a ball of fire against an empty black background. My heart filled with joy. I dreamed of flying into outer space, of becoming an astronaut and exploring that dark space myself. I still remember the excitement I felt when we left the movie theater, and how I peppered my father with questions about the Solar System and the Universe on the way home.

My interest in science was endearing at 12, but at 16 it was viewed as a waste of time. When I confessed to my parents and teachers in high school that I wanted to study math and physics at university, my dreams were met with disapproval. I was told those careers were too hard for women and I should study something more appropriate like communications or marketing.


The Most Beautiful Garden in the World

Secrets of the Universe
July 10,  2015

I recently visited one of the most beautiful gardens in the world. It is a garden without flowers or exotic trees. It has no idealized landscapes of rock, sand and water. Just a few concrete paths through patches of grass where components of old particle physics experiments sparkle in the sun. There is the Big European Bubble Chamber, which used to hold almost 10,000 gallons of liquid hydrogen for recording particle tracks; its two-ton piston lies wistfully nearby. The RF (radiofrequency) cavity that once accelerated electrons and positrons around the Large Electron-Positron Collider, reminded me of a submarine from a Jules Verne novel. And the Cockroft-Walton generator towered over me like a friendly robot. 

This is the Microcosm Garden at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, more commonly known as CERN. CERN has many claims to fame. Several subatomic particles were first found there and it is the birthplace of the World Wide Web. CERN was most recently in the news for the discovery of the Higgs boson, a crucial step in understanding why some fundamental particles have mass. This discovery was made at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s most powerful particle collider and the largest machine ever built. The LHC lives in a circular tunnel 27 km (17 mi) in circumference and an average depth 100 m (328 ft), and it boasts to be both the hottest and coldest place in the galaxy.

Read the complete article at Secrets of the Universe


Science Channel Premieres New Episode of Outrageous Acts of Science

Science Channel's fast-paced countdown series OUTRAGEOUS ACTS OF SCIENCE is back with more mind-boggling experiments, extraordinary inventions and jaw-dropping scientific stunts. All across the internet, self-appointed scientists are filming their OUTRAGEOUS experiments and misadventures. Our team of top Science brains is ready to analyze the how and why and to choose the very best. Forget everything you thought you knew about Science when OUTRAGEOUS ACTS OF SCIENCE returns tonight, June 20th at 10PM ET/PT on Science Channel.

In this season, producers continue to scour the web for the most shocking stunts and mind-blowing displays of Science in action. Each episode counts down twenty clips while a team of real-life scientists breaks down the principles behind the backyard experiments. Our team of OUTRAGEOUS experts includes returning favorites like astrophysicist Hakeem Oluseyi and physicist Debbie Berebichez.

In the premiere episode, "Fact or Fiction," our Science brainiacs play detective as they separate Science fact from Science fiction. Applying the principles of physics, chemistry, biology and engineering, they break down videos that seem too OUTRAGEOUS to be true.

OUTRAGEOUS ACTS OF Science is produced for Science Channel by October Films. For October Films, the executive producers are Denman Rooke and Gareth Cornick. For Science Channel, Wyatt Channell is executive producer and Jeffrey Stepp is coordinating producer. Bernadette McDaid is vice president of production.


The Flame Challenge: Explaining Science to an 11-year Old

As a curious 11-year-old, Alan Alda asked his teacher, “What is a flame?” She replied: “It’s oxidation.” Alda went on to win fame as an actor and writer, became an advocate for clear communication of science, and helped found the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University. He never stopped being curious, and he never forgot how disappointing that teacher’s answer was.

This was our team's entry: