The name is irresistible: Cocktail Party Physics. What Jennifer Ouellette writes is also irresistible, especially if you have a love of physics with or without a deep grasp of it. What's not to love about this intersection of popular culture, physics, and "the world at large" from someone who writes popular science books and describes herself as a "recovering English major"?
That intersection has led Ouellette to expound on the scientific overlaps between a Stradivarius violin and CT scans. She's written a wonderful long read on "science meets ghosts" that will make you a believer in one over the other. Whether it's ghosts or more earthbound topics such as the relationship between Woody Woodpecker and football, Ouellette weaves the promised tapestry of the pop culture and physical science worlds.
This year, Ouellette also bravely helmed the upcoming Open Lab 2011 book, serving as editor and managing a pile of hundreds of worthy entries into a sharp presentation of 51 of the best in science blogging for the year. A huge task, but the outcome is an overview of some of the best science writing on the web.
Ouellette's books include The Calculus Diaries: How Math Can Help You Lose Weight, Win in Vegas, and Survive a Zombie Outbreak (phew) and The Physics of the Buffyverse. Also, you had better conduct yourself well around her because she's got a black belt in jujitsu, which I imagine she's unafraid to use, and she's married to a Time Lord. Or THE Time Lord, Caltech physicist and writer, Sean M. Carroll.
Ouellette tweets under the nom d'Twitter JenLucPiquant, whom she describes as a "faux-French avatar with a penchant for gourmet cuisine, high fashion, existential angst, and dabbling in amateur scientific research of questionable import." Nothing about her blog or other writing is questionable, and we urge a visit. Prepare to stay awhile.