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June 20, 2007

Author Interview: Jennifer Ouellette

I've finally gotten my act back together and restarted the Ficlets Author Interview series: I sent out a bunch of well-delayed author questions today and will be sending out another batch in a couple of days. And -- even better -- I got one set of answers back, from Jennifer Ouellette, author of the highly entertaining and scientifically engaging The Physics of the Buffyverse, which is about -- can you guess? -- physics in the universe of the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Ouellette and I chat about the value of these sort of pop science books, whether "popular science" books in general have too narrow an audience, and what some of the most flat-out cool science discoveries of the last few years have been. It's a good interview, and if you miss it, your life will be a meaningless void. Sorry. But there it is.

Also, a quick procedural note -- I'm running about like a madman on Wednesday (i.e. today -- well, actually tomorrow, as I'm timestamping this as Wednesday but actually writing it on Tuesday) so I might not update again until much later Wednesday, if I update at all. If you don't see me around today, don't panic. I'm alive, just offline. It will happen from time to time.

Posted by john at June 20, 2007 12:00 AM

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Jim Wright | June 19, 2007 11:30 PM

I'm alive, just offline.

What?! There's life offline? No way, man.

Kidding, of course, since I spent all day yesterday standing thigh deep in the Little Susitna River fishing for king salmon with not even cell phone connectivity. Whooohooo for being offline once in a while.

Nate Von J | June 20, 2007 01:10 AM

That's the status I will wish to be in once I begin packing for the move to my new place. Hopefully it will be true tomorrow and not tonight as I am clearly online ho ho!

Kafkaesquí | June 20, 2007 02:57 AM

I gotta get me some of that gecko tape!

Ron | June 20, 2007 03:08 AM

Ooh, shiny! Fun interview! I read her book just a few weeks ago. (Yes, I'm a Whedon fan still going through withdrawal.)

Tim Walker | June 20, 2007 08:11 AM

"a bunch of well-delayed author questions"

Well-seasoned, John. Those questions are well-seasoned. Like Stradivarius aged the wood for his violins.

Stephen Granade | June 20, 2007 08:54 AM

It's interesting to read about the scientist/journalist divide from the other side, as it were. A large part of the concern on the scientists' side is from our training to tell things correctly without over-generalizing or over-assuming. Explaining science to a non-scientist audience necessarily means simplifying details to the point that the scientist will look at the result and, even in the best case, say, "No, that's not quite right. Geez, and this other part makes no sense because the reporter didn't talk about..."

Nathan | June 20, 2007 10:27 AM

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” That’s something we tend to forget. Imagine the reaction of someone from the 17th century to things like wireless communication, for example.

You mean wireless communication isn't magic? Aren't you supposed to warn me when there's gonna be spoilers?

Damn! I gotta read me some science.

Carol Elaine | June 20, 2007 12:14 PM

It's all magic to me.

I mean, I love technology and science and all. I'm the chair of the Technology Committee of the political group I work with. I earn a living working at JPL and couldn't be happier. But there's a reason I'm at JPL as a secretary and not as a scientist or engineer. Aside from the whole, "Didn't go through years and years of college studying those subjects," sort thing. Even though I can follow science and technology, it's still like magic to me. I know how the tricks are done, I'm still filled with wonder that the tricks work at all.

Carol Elaine | June 20, 2007 12:29 PM

Sorry to double post, but I hit the "Post" button instead of the "Preview" button.

I love books such as Ms. Ouellette's. I have no desire to seriously study science, but I love seeing how real-world science can be applied to fictional universes. I've been loving the History Channel lately because they've been airing "Star Wars Tech" and "Star Trek Tech" - so much fun to watch.

And now I have one more to add to the list, because I'm a big Joss Whedon fan, with BtVS as my #1 Whedon love.

As if I didn't have enough books on my "Must Buy and Read" list.

George E. Martin | June 20, 2007 08:36 PM

For those of who haven't found it yet, you should check out Jennifer's "Cocktail Party Physics" site!



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