The invisible man?

Ok, so there are clearly a few mad scientists out there when stuff like this comes up:

Wired: Military Seeks Invisibility Cloak

Or for those of you who have access to the journal Science:

Science 26 May 2006: 1120

Here's a quote from the Wired news article:

"Is it science fiction? Well, it's theory and that already is not science fiction. It's theoretically possible to do all these Harry Potter things, but what's standing in the way is our engineering capabilities," said John Pendry, a physicist at the Imperial College London.

Maybe it's just my "experimentalist" point of view... but just because a material theoretically could do something doesn't mean that material can exist? Sure, I suppose it might be possible, but as far as I'm concerned they are leaving the hard part up to someone else.


Google's automated ads

You know how sometimes Google's sidebar ads are from companies that use the search term to auto-generate an advertisment? Here's one I ran across tonight:

Yes, I was looking for store hours... but I doubt there are any manufacturers of them out there!

ps- this was also a good test of Blogger's photo hosting service... super-easy! expect more photos...

More thesis humour...

This appeared in "The Onion" last week... laptop martyrdom:

Heroic Computer Dies To Save World From Master's Thesis

My laptop tried this too by jumping onto the ground little over a week before my thesis deadline. Fortunately for me, "Veronica" wasn't quite as committed as this little buddy.

PhD comic: Thesis Outline

On a more sciency/fun note, check out the recent PhD comic:

Thesis Outline

Very helpful for those who are near finishing up... Enjoy!

Quebec is dumb... I can't change my name

Ok, so I spent a lot of time trying to decide what to do with my name when we get married. I had finally come to the decision that I would hyphenate mine and his so that officially I was both, professionally I would become Dr. Me, and socially I would be Mrs. Him. But since we are getting married in NS, and living in Quebec, it took me awhile to figure out how to do this... or rather find out that I cannot!

Here's the jist of it. Usually, when two people are married, the woman takes the husband's name. Some people find this antiquated, some like the tradition, some women keep their names due to professional reputations they have established. I grappled with all these notions to come to my decision. Despite not really liking hyphenated names, it seemed the best compromise. I'm a traditional kind of gal, and wanted to take his name, but I've got papers published in my name, and lots of connections made through conferences as Miss. Me.

Since we are getting married in N.S. and our marriage license comes from there, this seemed like the logical place to start looking for name change information. I very quickly found out that since we are now residing in Quebec, N.S. is not involved. So, I started looking for info from Quebec. It seemed to be very difficult to track down anything on the subject however. Wondering if perhaps we were a special case (of course we are... we always are...) and maybe this was all part of the marriage license process here, I sent a message through their website inquiring as to how to change my name. They sent a message back explaining that as of 1981, one does not, and cannot change their name by marriage, and must use one's maiden name for all official purposes, including legal documents, credit cards, etc, but may assume their husband's surname socially only.

I did some checking around, and it seems like other provinces do not impose this, but make it quite easy to make the name change when marrying. So I am frustrated. What right does Quebec have to dictate whether I follow this age-old, and widely accepted tradition?? Hurumph.

Wedding Planner is not a job!

So for many years, I never really understood why "wedding planner" was a job. I mean, it's supposed to be your special day, it seemed odd to me how anyone would want someone else to take over planning it... especially since I never wanted a "cookie-cutter" wedding (not that anyone really does). Plus, I like planning things. I like adding those little touches that make things special. But now that we're down to 11 days and have an increasingly lengthy list of things yet to do? I get it. Handing over the bizillions of details involved in planning a wedding does not necessarily mean that you hand over the vision of your day, but it would certainly free up a lot more of your time to enjoy the whole process.

People keep asking me: "Are you excited? Oh, you must be sooo excited!!!". I am, don't get me wrong, I'm very happy that in 11 days we will be there, on the actual day, getting married! But the planning, and the "what about this?" and the "oh, no, we forgot about that!" takes a lot of the fun out of it. And here's the thing: You only ever plan a wedding once! (well hopefully...) So, really, unlike most of the other things we do in our lives, you just don't get a chance to get good at it, and have the experience to know the when's, how's, how much's, who's, etc.

So now it all makes sense to me. If you're short on time, and have the money to spare, it seems perfectly reasonable to have someone else take care of the details. That way you can focus on the things that really matter and enjoy it all.

Anyway, I know we will have a wonderful day, and having done everything ourselves there is certain to be a touch of us in every aspect of the day. And yes, I am excited. It happened this morning when I looked across the breakfast table at my fiance and realized in just a few days he will be my husband. One can't beat that for a way to start the day! :)


Surface Canada 2006

So I just got back yesterday evening from Surface Canada, a bi-annual conference for surface scientists from across the country to meet and discuss results. To be honest, I wasn't expecting all that much from it, but I had a great time! I saw some really quite interesting talks, as well as some good posters. Best of all I met lots of people (both students and "real scientists") who are working on similar/complimentary things to me. All-in-all it was very worthwhile. Next time I have a chance to go to a "small, Canadian conference" I will approach it with a more positive attitude. :)

My talk went OKAY... I'll admit I've done better, and probably should have prepared more. For the first time in awhile I was actually pretty nervous. Turns out when you publish a PRL word gets around, so I had people coming up to me telling me they were excited about hearing me talk. I'm really used to flying under the radar at least until after I speak! It was kind of un-nerving, but certainly exciting to have people interested in my work.

Anyway... so why wasn't I well prepared? Well... honestly, I was busy socializing. Ok, ok, that sounds bad, but I can explain! The truth is that the good "napkin science" gets done by just talking to people and sharing new ideas. Socializing is a big part of the conference scene. Plus it's a great way to make contacts with other scientists -- both the full blown ones who might play a role in hiring you, and fellow students who will be the emerging scientists when you are and could be your future collaborators.

So, really, I had a great time, and learned lots! What more can I ask for from a conference?

Now that I'm back though, it's time to squeeze in a bit of work, and a lot of wedding planning, before we take off for "the big day". Yikes!

Tasty science

Saw this and thought it was interesting... a new way of detecting chirality (in amino acids anyway...) that works similar to the human tongue.

Test-Tube Taste Test



Not that there was anything wrong with the blogger template I initially selected from the standard templates... but it just wasn't quite me. This is a bit more sciency, and a bit more me. :)

Nothing else to report today. There is this Nanoforce thing going on, but I'd like to get some work done, so I'm skipping the talks and scanning. Fingers-crossed. Hopefully I can get some good stuff today, go home at a "reasonable" time to do laundry and such... yeah, yeah, wishful thinking.


Kill Bill... 's Browser

This is seriously funny... check it out:

Kill Bill's Browser

I've never considered advertising on my website... but this is an ad campaign I could swallow. Humour and social purpose (yes, I consider the Microsoft domination of computer-dom a societal problem). Hmm... I have been meaning to make over my website...