It’s hot…

Times being what they are, some of you believe in climate change and others do not. I’m married to a scientist and I like data, especially when it is presented in a way that is both visually interesting and understandable.

I read this article in the Washington Post on Tuesday that shows various ways that data visualizers are representing temperature increases. We all recognize hot and cold days as we live in them, but these visualizations put daily temperatures in a longer context.

Dr. Ed Hawkins is a climate scientist in the National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS) at the University of Reading. His visualizations resonated with me. This one could be printed on fabric, if only what it represents wasn’t so concerning.


by Ed Hawkins

The climate spiral, below, is in the WaPo article, and you can also find it here. This is a photo of the final spiral, but if you click this link you can watch the spiral grow from cooler, bluer rings to where we are now.

Screen Shot 2018-08-29 at 9.16.48 AM

by Ed Hawkins

I’m sharing this because I find it interesting. Some of you might be poised to tell me why you think climate change is made up. You can, but please keep it pleasant.

We need to be able to have conversations, that include listening, about topics on which we might not agree. Most of our collective conversations happen on flat, glass screens. If we were looking at each other, face-to-face, we would likely respond differently than we do on a keyboard. Pretend we are in the same room :-).

Link to the article in the Washington Post for those of you whose links above don’t work:


Learning something new and interesting…

I’m sewing and catching up on Radiolab podcasts. Their byline is “Investigating a strange world” and they do just that. There are two hosts, Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich and, together, they explore a wide range of topics that include (but are not limited to) science, medicine, art, music, and much more. I learn something in every post.

This one, on poison control, is really interesting. Click the link below the photo to open the player or click here to go to the podcast page.


There are several podcasts on Color. Google ‘Radiolab Color podcasts’ and you will find links. And the podcasts with, or about, Oliver Sachs are wonderful!

If you are not averse to listening to stories that relate to current hot-button issues, I would recommend the Border Trilogy podcasts. I was personally interested to hear a side of the story that I had not heard before, one that challenged me to think differently. The same was true, for me at least, in the Gunshow podcast.

So there you go. I’m going back to sewing, and listening!

National pi day!

When did you last think of pi? Not this kind of pie…


Pi Day is coming on Saturday, March 14.It is celebrated on March 14th (3/14) every year, around the world. Who knew?

Pi (Greek letter “π”) is the symbol used in mathematics to represent a constant — the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter — which is approximately 3.14159. (Remember pi-r-square?)

This year, Pi Day is an “Epic Pi Day”. On Saturday morning, 3.14.15 at 9:26:53 AM, the date/time corresponds to the first 10 digits of pi (π = 3.141592653). This happens only once per century – truly a “once-in-a-lifetime event” for most people. I’ve set my phone alarm so that I can see it happen.

I am away from home, teaching at the Gulf States Quilting Association Seminar in Metairie, LA. Steve will be home with friends celebrating a Pi Day breakfast of pancakes and sausage (both round, in honor of pi), with eggs and champagne. I will think of them fondly when my alarm goes off in class :-).

My friend, Elizabeth, a fellow pi(e) enthusiast, has found a few fun pi facts that she said I could share with you:

  • A circular room in the Palais de la Découverte science museum in Paris is called the pi room. The room has 707 digits of pi inscribed on its wall (though there is an error beginning at the 528th digit, thanks to William Shanks’ erroneous calculations).
  • In an episode of Star Trek: The Original Series, Spock commands an evil computer to compute pi to the last digit—which it cannot do, of course, because, as Spock explains, “the value of pi is a transcendental figure without resolution.” I remember this episode!
  • Givenchy’s PI cologne for men is advertised as a scent that “embodies the confidence of genius.”
  • Both MIT and the Georgia Institute of Technology have cheers that include “3.14159.”

If I was going to be home, I’d make one of these. It’s probably good I’m not home.


I believe in gravity…

Gravity is one of those things that we all know in a common sense sort of way. Objects fall. Heavy objects fall faster. However, according to the laws of physics, objects fall at the same rate if they are in a vacuum. That is really hard to believe which is why this video is so much fun!

British physicist Brian Cox, filming for his new BBC 2 show, Human Universe, he traveled visited the NASA Space Power Facility in Ohio, to drop a bowling ball and feathers in a vacuum chamber. Initially, with air in the chamber, the bowling ball drops like a rock (or bowling ball) and the feathers float, resisting the air. Later, with the air removed, they drop at exactly the same rate. Cool.

It really is true that a feather and a bowling ball will fall at the same rate in a vacuum!