Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Link of the Moment: Telling the Public about Science

Martin Robbins of the Guardian tells writers how to present science concepts so the general public can understand the concepts.  The ensuing comments and supporting links are worthy of your time, too.

Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Quotation of the Moment

"Hey, got any gum?"

Norm McDonald's impression of David Letterman (seen on Saturday Night Live in the '90's).

Friday, September 24, 2010

Rheologist Job at Wrigley

While logged on at LinkedIn, I was presented with the following job opportunity at Wrigley, in the Chicago area.

Job Description

Rheology is the study of the physical, 'flow', behavior of materials under stress / strain and core to fundamentally understanding our products at every stage of processing, storage, consumption and disposal. Today we lack the core competence in this critical area of science and this position will lead building a rheology centre of excellence that is key to delivering strategic initiatives.
* Conducts fundamental research to determine & understand the material chemical & structural drivers that influence key performance attributes [i.e. sensory (texture), processing, removability, etc.].
* Builds, transfers & validates new rheological methods for internal applications by collaborating with internal & external partners.
* Advises & trains other scientists & technicians on the application of new methods across innovation. Supports the design, collection, analysis & interpretation of the rheological studies performed by internal partners.
* Communicates results through technical reports & presentations to technical & non-technical associates.

Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company is a recognized leader in confections with a wide range of product offerings including gum, mints, hard and chewy candies, lollipops, and chocolate. The company has operations in more than 40 countries and distributes its world-famous brands in more than 180 countries. Three of these brands - Juicy Fruit®, Wrigley's Spearmint®, and Altoids® - have heritages stretching back more than a century. Other well-loved brands include Orbit®, Extra®, Starburst®, Doublemint®, Skittles®, Freedent®, Airwaves®, Life Savers®, Eclipse®, and Winterfresh®. Wrigley is headquartered in Chicago, Ill., and operates as a subsidiary of Mars, Incorporated, a private, family-owned company founded in 1911. Mars, Incorporated is one of the world's largest food companies, generating global revenues of 30 billion dollars annually and producing some of the world's leading brands in six segments that include Chocolate, Drinks, Food, Petcare, Symbioscience and Wrigley.

* MS with 3-5 years' experience, or PhD with 1-2 years experience in the application of dynamic rheology to complex fluids.Experience in dynamic & transient rheometry & method development.
* Knowledge of polymer / materials science preferably in food applications.
* Knowledge of chemistry preferably in food applications.
* Knowledge of other analytical tools / methods relation to materials characterization (i.e. DSC, TGA, SEM, etc.).
* In depth experience with analytical rheometers - including data collection, analysis and interpretation
* Ability to develop & lead own research programs.
* Understanding of DOE, statistics & data interpretation.
* Computer skills, including MS Word, Excel & PowerPoint.
* Rheometer software skills, including TA Orchestrator or TRIOS.
* Managing research projects
* Communication skills - able to convey complex science to all levels

Currently, this job is not found using my standard "rheolog*" at

You can find this job at Wrigley's career site.

Disclosures: I once interviewed for a similar position at Wrigley; they turned me down.  I currently work for ConAgra Foods, which is a consumer food company similar to Wrigley.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

SF Prep (#5): Book Recommendation

Most people know Tony Hillerman as a mystery writer.  Before he became a best-selling author, he worked for Santa Fe's main newspaper The New Mexican.  He put together a collection of his newspaper articles that celebrated facets of northern New Mexico into the book The Great Taos Bank Robbery.  The book should be available at the Albuquerque airport and Santa Fe hotel stores.

SF Prep (#4): Getting to Santa Fe

Unless you get one of the three daily flights to Santa Fe (one from LA, two from Dallas), you will likely fly into Albuquerque airport (ABQ).  Albuquerque is about 60 miles from Santa Fe.  The fastest way there by car is to take Insterstate 25 north from the airport.  There is another option just recently open: the Rail Runner train.  You can take the train from Albuquerque to Santa Fe.  If you buy your ticket online, you can use the ticket as a bus transfer from the airport.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

SF Prep (#3): It's Spelled "Chile"

One of my biggest regrets about not going to the SOR meeting is that I won't be dining in Santa Fe.  However, it's been so long that I've actually been there, that I really can't recommend any restaurants.  The regional cuisine is what most people think of as typically Mexican: tacos, burritos, etcetera.  One ingredient that makes the food "New Mexican" is the Hatch green chile.  The chiles are rarely found outside the state; in fact, we see the chiles in Omaha once a year at one of the local supermarkets.
Local restaurants serve the chiles in "green" and "red" sauces.  Most often, one sauce is hotter than the other.  If you're not used to spicy food, ask your server how hot the food is.

NM Hatch chiles roasting on a grill

Link: NPR's Scott Simon ruminates on the possibility of green chile as a diplomatic tool (from 2003).

Sunday, September 19, 2010

SF Prep (#2): Sites to See

  • San Miguel Mission: the oldest church in the United States

  • The Loretto Chapel, home of the miraculous staircase [admission required]
    An engineering marvel, the spiral staircase makes two complete turns without external support or metal nails.  The carpenter who built the staircase vanished without accepting payment.

  • Palace of the Governors, a history museum of New Mexico [admission required]
    The museum is on the plaza.  Before going inside, you'll see Native American artists selling their own work.  They specialize in turquoise, silver, and pottery.  Don't forget your credit card; some of the artwork and jewelry is expensive.
  • The Georgia O'Keefe museum  [admission required]

  • The state capitol building.  (The oldest capital city in the US has the newest building.  Designed in the shape of the Zia symbol, which can be found on the state flag.  Its nickname is the "Merry Roundhouse.")
Update: Map of these attractions, along with the Convention Center, after the jump.

SF Prep (#1): Welcome to Santa Fe

Santa Fe, the capital of the state of New Mexico, is the oldest capital city in the United States.  Its nickname is "The City Different."
The first thing to remember about Santa Fe is that it is located in a high altitude desert (7000 ft or 2100 m above sea level).  Drink plenty of water, and wear a hat and sunscreen if you'll be out in the sun. 

(Trivia question: which saint is Santa Fe named after?  "Fe" is the Spanish word for "faith."  If you use Google, you're cheating.)

SF Prep (Forward)

Before I fill everyone's head with my own opinions and suggestions for SOR's Santa Fe meeting, here are the official links provided by the Society.
  1. SOR General Meeting Information
  2. Santa Fe Convention & Visitors Bureau: Getting to Santa Fe

Friday, September 17, 2010

Surely You're Joking (#8): Burma Shave

Is tough
To make
So why not
Just depilate
Burma Shave

Update: Original article at Macromolecules [login required]

Update 2: Thanks to user drj1990 for putting this post on reddit.  Only one vote so far; I'll have to try harder next time.

Update 3:
This version rhymes better

Is tough
To create
So why not
Just depilate
Burma Shave

Monday, September 13, 2010

Quotation of the Moment

"Tanquem ex ungue leonem"
"As the lion is known by its claw"
Jean Bernoulli I, after Newton anonymously solved a difficult math problem in one afternoon.

Friday, September 10, 2010


I would like to thank Carmine Gorga for his essay on nonlinear economics.  If you enjoyed his work, you can check out his website at 

Non-Newtonian Economics

A few weeks ago, I came across a book titled The Economic Process: An Instantaneous Non-Newtonian Picture by Carmine Gorga.  I had not heard of Newton's use outside the field of mechanics, so I contacted the author and asked him if he could share a definition of non-Newtonian behavior in economics.  Here is his essay.
Concordian Economics: A non-Newtonian Construct by Carmine Gorga, Ph.D.

Concordian economics is a non-Newtonian construct because it does not respect the law of incompenetrability of bodies. As known since the theory was formulated by classical economists, economics is composed of three major elements: production (A), distribution (B), and consumption (C) of wealth. The meaning of these terms has varied over time.
In Concordian economics, production means production of real, physical wealth as well as services; distribution means distribution of value of ownership of rights over real and monetary wealth; consumption means expenditure of monetary wealth. Consumption as destruction of wealth in real terms is absorbed into the notion of net production.
As it can be seen, in addition to intangible services there are two terms in Concordian economics, money and ownership rights, which are not physical. They intermingle with the physical conception of real wealth. Hence, Concordian economics is a non-Newtonian construct.
Generally, mainstream economics is not faced with this Newtonian issue of incompenetrability of bodies because the nature of such real wealth as tables and chairs is made homogeneous by transforming it into the corresponding monetary value of tables and chairs. Quite apart from necessarily using monetary values, Concordian economics resolves the issue of non-homogeneity of real wealth with the assistance of such intellectual tools as labor-units, energy-units, or value-units. The issue is important because, if the meter were as flexible a unit of measurement as the dollar, we would never have been able to reach the moon and return so safely and effectively as we did.
(Continues after the jump)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Quotation of the Moment

"Knowledge is knowing that tomato is a fruit.  Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad."
Brian O'Driscoll, Irish rugby player

(Thanks to Eric Zorn's blog Change of Subject for the tip)

Saturday, September 4, 2010


More than 100 visitors stopped by last month.  This is the second time I've had that many people read the blog.  Thanks for your attention.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Link of the Moment: Someone's Job

Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish is running a series of essays on different jobs: lawyers, teachers, etcetera.  Here is a reflection from the perspective of a research scientist.  I have no idea if his/her job is academic or industrial, but it is worth a few minutes of your time.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Jobs Report (September 2010)

A keyword search "rheolog*" on performed on September 1 found 26 positions advertised.  Here is the trend for the number of positions found since September 2009.

This search did not find the Kraft position discussed here.  I found the position (1005766) still advertised at the Kraft career site.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Poll of the Month (September)

It's time to try a new poll.  Are you going to Santa Fe for the SOR meeting?  The meeting will be held during the last week of October.

Out of SORts

Sadly, I will not be able to attend this year's SOR meeting in Santa Fe.  I would really have liked to go, but my travel schedule has different priorities this year.
I lived near Santa Fe for 10 years, and I'll put up a few posts with tips on things to see and do.