Betsy Devine: Funny ha-ha and/or funny peculiar

Making trouble today for a better tomorrow…

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Entries Tagged as 'Frank Wilczek'

How crazy was this?

June 4th, 2011 · Comments Off on How crazy was this?

Day 12: Just Frank and Betsy IMG_0965 by betsythedevine
Day 12: Just Frank and Betsy IMG_0965, a photo by betsythedevine on Flickr.

How crazy was this project to celebrate Frank’s 60th birthday with a 192 mile hike across England with our two daughters and one son-in-law?

And yet, here we are, near the end, two people who have just spent two weeks of nights in hotel rooms — one man with sore feet and one woman with a lot of experience driving on the left of narrow roads. And we are happy.

And how much less crazy was this crazy trip idea than the project we set out on back in our twenties to get together and start a family despite having little money and little experience and lots of fondness for having our own way? That crazy project back then worked out pretty well too.

Tags: coasttocoast · England · Frank Wilczek · Travel · Wide wonderful world

Day 9: On the road again

May 30th, 2011 · Comments Off on Day 9: On the road again

Day 9: Setting out by the book! by betsythedevine
Day 9: Setting out by the book!, a photo by betsythedevine on Flickr.

Today is the day they walk from Reeth to Richmond. Since we slept in Richmond last night (many thanks to Frenchgate Hotel, which we are all enjoying), I drove them to Reeth this morning soon after breakfast.

It was sunny — it was raining — it was not raining but still cloudy — it was (in a word) England.

We barely got out of Richmond before roads shut down for a bank holiday parade. People were already lining up on sidewalks as we drove by. To avoid driving back into the huge parade-chaos, I walked with Team Wilczek a while, then happily dawdled in Reeth’s Swaledale Museum. More photos on my Flickr pages, of course.

Tags: coasttocoast · England · Frank Wilczek · Travel · Wide wonderful world

Blogging is recursive

May 20th, 2011 · Comments Off on Blogging is recursive

Blogging is recursive by betsythedevine
Blogging is recursive, a photo by betsythedevine on Flickr.

Waiting for a morning flight to Heathrow. Frank and I will celebrate his birthday this year by doing the Wainwright coast to coast walk across England.

I just blogged a big chunk of Wordsworth’s 1810 thoughts about just how great this time of year is for the Lake District. So now, I photographed my computer, my blog, my coat, my scarf, my favorite pink hoodie, and all the other crazy people in range in this waiting area.

Adventures and more photos follow, but not for a while.

Tags: coasttocoast · England · Frank Wilczek · Metablogging · Travel · Wide wonderful world

John Brockman, founder of the feast

December 28th, 2009 · Comments Off on John Brockman, founder of the feast

John Brockman, founder of the feast

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine

John Brockman and Katinka Matson were in Cambridge this weekend, throwing (as usual) an enjoyable party… which none of my iPhone pictures came out, but I like this one of John, seen here with just a bit of Albert-Laszlo Barabasi, the author of the (soon to be published) Bursts.

There was quite a bit of talk about the Edge question for 2010 (which remains secret until it gets published there January 1.) I was also very intrigued by the ongoing DNA mysteries that Ting Wu explores in her Harvard Med School lab — and by the diverse places that Katinka Matson finds the flowers for her humongous photographs. I also learned that Frank Wilczek considers evolution a very roundabout way to deliver paltry amounts of information. I am looking forward to reading Connected by Nicolas Christakis and James Fowler, especially the chapter that begins with epidemic laughter. And if I had been sitting closer to Marvin Minsky or Benoit Mandelbrot, I might have learned something novel from them as well.

And then there was the Harvest’s sticky toffee pudding! Thanks once again, John Brockman and Katinka Matson.

Tags: Boston · Cambridge · Frank Wilczek · Science · Wide wonderful world · writing

Real-time results from CERN’s ATLAS detector

December 1st, 2009 · 4 Comments

Real-time results from CERN’s ATLAS detector

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine

Frank and I are in Bern on our way to CERN, as the LHC beams are finally online and being brought up to speed. The LHC beam got to Bern’s labs before we did.

But not much before we did — ATLAS recorded its first particle “splashes” on Nov. 20, not much more than a week ago.

The ATLAS group at Bern University focuses on data-acquisition and data-analysis. One of the many amazing things they showed us today is their giant realtime display of LHC information.

The lefthand side of the monitor (most of it not visible in this photo) shows many aspects of the LHC beam status. One young experimenter is here pointing to information about the most recent “event” recorded by ATLAS, from three different viewpoints. This was a cosmic ray event, which was superceded by a second cosmic ray event during the few minutes we stood looking at the monitor. (The beam status was “off” so collision events were not on view.)

The black rectangle with many particle tracks is a lovely revolving three-dimensional image of very the first beam “event” recorded by ATLAS. Wow.

I am definitely going to follow CERN on Twitter for more.

Tags: Frank Wilczek · Science · Travel · Wide wonderful world

Good morning, Krakow sunshine

July 20th, 2009 · 1 Comment

Good morning, Krakow sunshine

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine

Long ago, the legendary hero Krak killed a dragon here by feeding it animal skins he had stuffed with sulfur. He was just the first in a long line of clever people who have made Poland’s ancient capital one of our planet’s most interesting cities.

The European Physical Society is holding its 2009 High Energy Physics conference in Krakow, so Frank Wilczek and Betsy Devine are here, full of high energy, ready to re-meet and confer and visit salt mines and listen to beautiful music and (in the case of Betsy) of course to blog.

Last night was a prize dinner of unusual interest, honoring CERN’s Gargamelle collaboration for the first great discovery made at CERN. This was one of the first big discoveries in physics (said Frank, in his after-dinner speech) that he was around to watch happen in real time — a discovery that was strongly challenged by many, when it appeared.

So why is great work done back in 1973 getting its first international prize in 2009? Giving a prize to an experimental group (instead of to its top members) is unusual — and it’s a novelty long overdue. Experimental results have for decades been produced by teams that may often include several hundred people. The EPS had to change its bylaws to do this, and somebody should give them their own cleverness prize for having done so.

Tags: Frank Wilczek · Science · Travel · Wide wonderful world

Frank’s 1969 face in 2009 NY Times

July 15th, 2009 · 1 Comment

Frank’s 1969 face in 2009 NY Times

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine

Claudia Dreifus had an interactive piece in yesterday’s New York Times online (July 14, 2009), interviewing people about their thoughts at the time of the first moon landing.

Gloria Steinem and Janis Ian were cute then but young Frank Wilczek was the cutest.

Tags: Frank Wilczek · Science · Wide wonderful world

The amorous singing oxygen atom is baaaack

June 14th, 2009 · Comments Off on The amorous singing oxygen atom is baaaack

The oxygen atom, thinking about the scientist Eve

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine

From today’s NY Times Tierney Lab blog:

Dr. Wilczek, an M.I.T. physicist who grew up in Queens, sang a Gilbert and Sullivanish song, centered on the frustrations of an oxygen molecule in love with a human being.

The big revelation is that this physicist isn’t a bad a singer. He may have a bit of vibrato, but he’s also got a lot of bravado. And he definitely stayed on key for the entire performance.

After a while, he was so engrossed in what he was doing, that he began to move–though, I must report, he’s no James Brown. Nevertheless, the audience where I sat–heavy-duty academic types– had to repress their own desires to start dancing. Who says that scientists have to be solemn and boring?

Who indeed? The song was the re-setting by Marc Abrahams ( for his Ig Nobel opera Atom and Eve, in which Frank played the baritone lead to friendly acclaim.

And there was more Tierney Lab news from Frank’s appearances at the NY Science Festival–or perhaps I should say instead there was Nothing.

Tags: Frank Wilczek · funny · Science · Wide wonderful world

To duck or not to duck?

June 2nd, 2009 · Comments Off on To duck or not to duck?

Those familiar with this blog may have noticed that ducks tend to float through its pages like a theme, perhaps, I hope, from a dreaming composer and not so much, I hope, like that annoying drum riff that the worst guy in the band loves to play.

Sinister ducks, rubber ducks, ducks in and out of water, even (way back in 2003) my first Flash animation Quack-Don’t-Quack.

So it is understandable that a clever person who knows me well, such as for instance a Nobel Laureate who is married to me, would think of me as somebody who would like this video making fun of Pat Robertson for comparing gay marriage to sex with ducks.

And I cannot resist in turn passing this on to you also, but let me just say that as much as I do like ducks, I do not like them THAT way.

But I do really, really like this song.

Tags: Frank Wilczek · funny · Wide wonderful world

Frank Wilczek with hat and universe

March 6th, 2009 · Comments Off on Frank Wilczek with hat and universe

Frank Wilczek with hat and universe

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine

The Foundational Questions Institute (FQXi) is sponsoring a conference on Grand Cayman Island, an excellent way to lure a lot of intelligent and very busy people to come spend some time together talking about foundational questions. They also have a truly interesting blog.

Furthermore, the beach at night is a good place to think about cosmological mysteries, even though it can be very windy, as Alan Guth discovered!

If you use Twitter, I strongly suggest that you start following LaBlogga, aka Melanie Swan. I just started, and I already feel more intelligent than I was yesterday.

Now, off with my computer and back to the fresh air! (Since I’m not invited to this particular conference, getting some beach time is the most intelligent thing for me to do here.)

Tags: Frank Wilczek · Science · Wide wonderful world