I’m likely to become involved in an organized effort to improve the persistence of STEM majors at the University of Oregon. (STEM meaning Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, and persistence meaning completing a degree rather than switching to a different field.) Less than half of the undergraduates who start out as intended STEM majors graduate … Continue reading STEM persistence
Being on sabbatical this term, I’ve been staying away from our science teaching journal club. I went yesterday, though, taking a break from working on papers, pondering signal processing mysteries, and failing at subcloning, since the topic was teaching science via comics. I’m fond of both science and comics, and so couldn’t stay away! I … Continue reading Science Comics
Just a few weeks ago, I wrote about bees’ ability to detect the electric fields of flowers. Now, we find even more amazing bee abilities. Apparently, bumblebees can cut into the sides of flowers to burgle nectar from flowers they don’t pollinate. Moreover, they learn this from other bees, mimicking such things as the side … Continue reading Bees, what *can’t* they do?
An issue that often comes up in the teaching of introductory physics classes is students’ intuitive preconceptions of how the physical world works — often incorrect ideas about forces, velocities, interactions, etc. There’s a lot of education research on this and how to address it — some of which I’m even reasonably aware of! — … Continue reading Folk Physics for Small Children
At a café not long ago, I overheard some students sitting by me complaining that their error analysis exercise for a physics lab class was extremely boring (involving e.g. propagation of errors in measurements). Usually, when I hear griping about classes I have to restrain myself from throwing coffee cups, but in this case I … Continue reading Statistics!
I spent much of the morning being livid, after stumbling on a paper. First, some background: In 2012, I published a paper in Nature Methods that introduced and described a new algorithm for rapidly and accurately determining the location of particles in images — something that’s very important to super-resolution microscopy, measuring fluid properties using … Continue reading Stop, thieves!
A theme shared by all the experiments in my lab is that images contain information about the physical properties of materials. One of my students gave a talk on Monday about his work exploring the fluid environment experienced by swimming microbes (see my earlier post on the microbiome). Planning it beforehand, we were thinking of … Continue reading Orbitz!
Admittedly we’re still awaiting jet packs and flying cars, but it does quite often strike me how many present-day things would have been wild science fiction in the past. This morning, I was drinking coffee at my kitchen table and watching on-line tutorial videos on custom gene synthesis services, with clicks of a button and … Continue reading The future is here…
I just learned that my friend David Wacks, a professor in Romance Languages, has a blog — http://davidwacks.uoregon.edu/ — on Medieval Iberian and Sephardic Culture. Who knew? Our conversations mostly involve graphic novels and keeping track of our kids on Saturday mornings at the public library, so we probably both are unaware of all sorts … Continue reading Another one!
Perhaps my favorite thing about the fascinating recent report  that bees sense the electric field of flowers, and learn from these electrical cues what flowers to visit, is that reminds me that it’s still possible to do simple, elegant experiments. To test bees’ field recognition, the authors built “E-flowers” consisting of metal and epoxy … Continue reading Bees see *E*s