Sunday, October 31, 2010

Song Lyric of the Moment (#2)

Another selection from the Halloween playlist and one of the great opening lyrics of all time...
I was working in the lab late one night...
Monster Mash by Bobby 'Boris' Pickett & the Crypt-Kickers

Song Lyric of the Moment

For Halloween, here's part of the They Might Be Giants song Particle Man, which is on my Halloween song rotation.

Particle man, particle man 
Doing the things a particle can
What's he's like is not important
Is he a dot?
Is he a speck?
When he's underwater, does he get wet?
Or does the water get him instead?
Nobody knows
Particle man 

Friday, October 29, 2010

"Silly Putty with a Bang"

I searched for the "silly putty and nuclear reactor" epsiode that John mentioned, but a quick Google search for "MacGyver silly putty" provided the following clip:

Update: I never watched MacGyver much when the show was originally on, but I'm aware of the show's main premise.  Mac is a good guy who puts together spectacular escapes and fixes using the items at hand.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Comic Strip of the Moment

Back in my sales days, I often used the example of Silly Putty to explain the phenomenon of viscoelasticity.  Most people I met had played with the toy at least once, but they didn't remember the mechanical properties.  Everyone remembered the ability of the putty to transfer ink off a newspaper.  As this selection from the comic strip One Big Happy shows, something will be lost when people don't read comics in newspapers anymore.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Capital/Capitol Trivia

A few ramblings about capitals and capitol buildings that are rattling around my head.
  • I've lived in two state capital cities: Austin, TX and Richmond, VA.
  • I have a cousin whose hobby is being photographed in front of state capitol capital buildings.
  • I've visited the state capitols capitals in Denver, Santa Fe, Austin, St. Paul, and Richmond.
  • The Texas state capitol building is one foot taller than the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
  • My favorite capitol building is in Richmond; it was designed by Thomas Jefferson and has one of his domes hidden inside the building.

Update: the distinction between capital (the city) and capitol (the building) is a fine point.  I'm surprised I didn't have teachers that harped on those words when I was younger.

Capital Ideas

The SOR meeting in Santa Fe begins today.  One feature of SOR meetings is their presence in state and provincial capitals over the past few years.  (I would imagine there's some connection between the location of a state's main research university in the state capital; imagine all those jobs.  There's probably a history thesis in there somewhere.)  Attendees at the past few SOR meetings and International Rheology Conferences have gone to the following capitals--
  • Santa Fe, NM
  • Madison, WI
  • Salt Lake City, UT
  • Columbus, OH
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Boston, MA
  • Quebec, QC
Which capital city would you like to visit for an SOR meeting?  My first choice would be Austin; I have fond memories of the food, bars, lakes, and city from my year there.  I would also like to visit Honolulu, but I think my boss would not approve that travel.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Interview of the Moment

Joe Klein of Time magazine and writes about Ted Kaufman, the Temporary Senator.  Mr. Kaufman is the only member of the U.S. Senate who has worked as an engineer.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Link of the Moment

According to an email from SOR, the web site for the XVIth (that's 16th, for those who don't know Latin) Congress of Rheology is now live.  The Congress will take place August 5-10, 2012 in Lisbon, Portugal.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Benoit Mandelbrot, RIP

Beniot Mandelbrot, the father of fractal mathematics, passed away on October 14th.  Applications of fractals in fluid mechancs can be found in the phenomena of viscous fingering and turbulence.
I learned about Mandelbrot when I picked up a book on the basics of fractals [1].  There's a great story about Mandelbrot at IBM.  Hired into their research division, he discovered that the noise in the data transmission was both regular and erratic.  He found that the standard approach to the noise, increasing the transmission signal, would not fix the problem [1,2].  When I first heard this story, I thought it was a fabulous example of a theoretician finding a solution to a real-world problem.  Such solutions are rare, which is why pure theoretical work is hard to find at for-profit companies these days.

[1] Introducing Fractals: a Graphic Guide by Lesmoir-Gordon, Rood, and Edney (2009).

[2] Introducing Chaos: a Graphic Guide by Sarder & Abrams (2004).
[3] has put together a slideshow on images spawned by fractal mathematics.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Product of the Moment: Teabag Coaster

This product is designed by Yuree Stacy Lim, Jieun Yan, and Sangmin Bae of Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology.  It is a specially designed teabag made of compressed paper.  Once the wet bag is put on the coaster, the tea spreads via capillary action through the paper, dying the paper.

Hat tip: The design site Solid State UX

Friday, October 15, 2010

Rheological Word of the Moment

The winning word from this year's Scripps National Spelling Bee was stromuhr, which is "a rheometer designed to measure the amount and speed of blood flow through an atery."  Stromuhr combines the German words for "stream" and "clock" and was invented by Carl Ludwig in 1867.  Ludwig (1816-1895) was a German medical researcher who related chemical and physical laws to biological phenomena.

A picture of his stromuhr is shown to the left.

Anamika Veeramani was the winner of the 2010 National Spelling Bee, which was completed this past June.

Sources: Wikipedia, Herman von Heltzmann - Zentrum fűr Kulturtechnik

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Accidental Discovery Files (#3)

While working on photosensitive glass, Dr. S. Donald Stokely accidentally overheated a sample.  The resulting product resisted breakage when dropped and could be used directly on the cooktop.  The material was called Pyroceram and was marketed as CorningWare.

Source: Wikipedia

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Viscosity & Fractals

While doing a little light reading [1], I came across this 1920 poem by Lewis Richardson--

Big whorls have little whorls,
That feed on their velocity;
And little whorls have lesser whorls,
And so on to viscosity.

Several people [1,2] have remarked on this poem's debt to Jonathan Swift's famous flea poem

So, Nat'ralists observe, a Flea
Hath smaller Fleas that on him prey,
And these have smaller Fleas to bite 'em
And so proceed ad infinitum.

[1]  Introducing Fractals: a Graphic Guide by Lesmoir-Gordon, Rood, and Edney (2009).
[2]  Wondering Minstrels, a poem-a-day blog that ran from 1999-2007.

Regular Readers (2)

Following up to a post by John, I have 14 people who subscribe through Google Reader.  About 100 people stop by a month, and 5-10 comments over the same period of time.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Link of the Moment: Chemjobber Blog

Today's link is the Chemjobber blog, which I learned about when John was interviewed about polymer chemistry.  The blog is a continual analysis of the chemistry job market, and is similar to my monthly job reports.  I added the Careerbuilder searches in this month's jobs report after a quick check of the links at Chemjobber.  I recall using Careerbuilder in previous job searches, but I hadn't checked the site recently.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Jobs Report (October 2010)

Using my standard search term "rheolog*", which was conducted on October 1st, there are 26 job positions listed on, and there are 12 positions listed on  The Kraft rheologist job (discussed on August 18th) is not found on either site.  The Wrigley rheologist job (discussed on September 24th) is found on Careerbuilder.  The jobs are found in the following industries--


  1. Engineering Services (6)
  2. Chemical / Petrochemical (4)
  3. Manufacturing (4)
  4. Other / Not specified (3)
  5. Biotech (2)
  6. Restaurant / Food Services (1)
  7. Food / Beverage (1)
  8. Healthcare Services (1)
  9. Computer Software (1)
  10. Automotive and Parts (1)
  11. Electronics Components and Semiconductor (1)
  12. Education (1)
  1. Science (8)
  2. Engineering (4)
  3. Research (4)
  4. Manufacturing (3)
  5. Other (1)
  6. Inventory / Procurement (1)
  7. Business Development (1)
  8. Design (1)
  9. Entry Level (1)
  10. Health Care (1)
  11. Professional Services (1)
  12. QA / Quality Control (1)
  13. Management (1)
One job, at a post-doc position at Lubrizol, appears on both lists.

Friday, October 1, 2010

SF Prep Index

Update: Answer to the trivia question posed in #1, after the jump

Update #2: If you enjoyed the series, and know someone going to SOR, feel free to send them this post.

Update #3: Fixed the broken links.