Showing a Different Way

danica mckellar Getty imagesDanica McKellar (the actress who played Winnie in that show The Wonder Years that many of you might remember) has been working to try to encourage young girls to go more for “Cute and Smart”, as opposed to “Cute and Dumb”. Bottom line: Less Lindsay Lohan, and Paris Hilton, and more…. well, Danica. (I’m sure there are other Tinseltown examples here… can I have some help?).

Danica sets an excellent example of why the two (being considered attractive on the one hand, and smart on the other) are not mutually exclusive, while not suffering from the “geek” or “nerd” label that is attached by the entertainment industry to certain groups of people who enjoy using their brains a lot. She trained as a mathematician, in fact, doing her undergraduate work at UCLA so well that she did rather good published research work (NPR piece here Update: It is actually more of a theoretical physics problem, it appears.). This is from someone who struggled with the subject in sixth grade. Why is she in the news? She’s written a new book “Math Doesn’t Suck”, the aim being to encourage girls to avoid the (social) barriers to getting into mathematics. Excellent title. (I wonder if they’ll change it to “Maths Doesn’t Suck” if they publish it in Britain? “Suck” British kids have adopted from the USA cultural juggernaut, but “Math”? Not yet.)

danica mckellar math doesn't suckActually, looking at her website, I see that the full title appears to be “Math Doesn’t Suck: How to Survive Middle School Math Without Losing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail”, which is more of a mouthful, a bit less zippy, but oh well. It’s all very Clueless, in a good way. Here’s a link to the book’s site, and it is due out tomorrow.

There’s an article1 on her recent Newsweek quote at CNN, from which I grabbed this:

“When girls see the antics of Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan, they think that being fun and glamorous also means being dumb and irresponsible,” the 32-year-old McKellar told Newsweek for editions to hit newsstands Monday.

“But I want to show them that being smart is cool,” she said. “Being good at math is cool. And not only that, it can help them get what they want out of life.”

but you should go and read the whole thing, by clicking here. [Update: Better article here by Corey Binns in Good Magazine. Extract:

“The book hones in on middle school’s trickiest points-––like fractions, ratios, and percentages—and presents them in a style that’s appropriate for the cool kids’ lunch table. Figure out your “type” in boys and you’ll understand greatest common factors. All of those iced lattes celebrities drink make multiplying fractions tasty. Plus, savvy shopping requires killer decimal skills.”


Go Danica!

In other news, I learned2 that particle physicist Lisa Randall (author of the popular book with the curious title “Warped Passages”) appears in Vogue this month. Lisa Randall is also a member of the Aspen Center for Physics, by the way. She’s given a number of well received public lectures on particle physics here in Aspen in recent years, as well as coming just to do physics research. In fact, I saw her here the other day, but there was no time to chat – perhaps she was off to sign copies of the magazine or something.

brompton case by pinel pinelWell, this will give me an excuse to go into a magazine shop and look through Vogue to see what the article says (I can find nothing online). The last time I had a good excuse to do this was last year3 when -bizarrely- the Brompton (and a rather fetching (and expensive) travelling trunk for it by French chic luggage maker Pinel & Pinel4) was featured in a short piece on hip must-have items. Go figure. As proof, I’ll put a picture I took of it at the time to the right (no disrespect to Lisa, of course) and you can even read the article if you click on it for a closeup. (The German case I recently got for my Brompton is not as as chic as the French Pinel & Pinel design, but is still aesthetically pleasing to me, and I bet it’ll last longer.)



  1. Spotted at Diary of a Black Mathematician. [return]
  2. Spotted at Life as a Physicist. [return]
  3. Thanks Jean Chuman! [return]
  4. Oh!! I love the front page of their website!! [return]


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55 Responses to Showing a Different Way

  1. Jude says:

    Jodie Foster–graduate of Yale
    Julia Stiles–graduate of Columbia

    Probably many others.

  2. Clifford says:

    Thanks for those examples….Do you know what subjects they majored in? I’m looking for mathematics and science examples here…. (not that there’s anything wrong with other subjects -go ahead and bring up more examples- but that’s the context interesting me in this post…)



  3. candace says:

    Foster and Stiles were both lit majors, if I recall.

    Danica McKellar and Natalie Portman (psychology) both have Erdos-Bacon numbers:

    Mayim Bialik, formerly of Blossom (TV) and Beaches (movie) fame, is pursuing a Ph.D. in neuroscience. Claire Danes is a Yale psych dropout. Cindy Crawford won a full ride to Northwestern to study Chemical Engineering, got through one semester. Cate Blanchett briefly studied economics at U. of Melbourne. They all got on board the fame train before finishing.

    Boy, I’m really reaching, aren’t I? It’s sad but I can’t think of anyone else!

    Okay, I play the Hedy Lamarr trump card! Spread spectrum!

  4. candace says:

    Ah, two more: Teri Hatcher was a math/engineering major until Hollywood bit, and Lisa Kudrow actually finished her Biology degree at Vassar (bravo!). All these secret brains!

  5. Clifford says:

    Ah, the good ‘ol Hedy Lamarr trump card.

    Man they used a hell of a lot of vaseline on that lens….


  6. Clifford says:

    Hey, we could just make some up! Map some actors to alternative universe ones where they did technical degrees before moving into acting:

    Cameron Diaz: PhD in Number Theory

    Halle Berry: Electrical Engineer (hence the Storm role)

    Robert Downey Junior: Chemistry major (was a big fan of Ferrous compounds, in fact)

    Amanda Peet: Phd. in String Theory (Hmm, there seems to be a fixed point in the transformation)

    Jude Law: majored in Geology

    Cate Blanchette: Astrophysics

    Michael Douglas: Phd in String Theory (damn! again!)

    Sally Field:…. (too obvious)

    Eddie Murphy: Probability theory. (Guess what law was named after him?*)

    This is too much fun…… confusing future Google searches and all.


    (*Well, actually, it was named after his brother, Charlie Murphy (of Chappelle’s Show fame), but due to an improbable and ironic mixup in the scientific literature, Eddie gets all the credit.)

  7. Samantha says:

    What was Brooke Shields’ major at Princeton?

  8. Clifford says:

    According to Wikipedia:

    “French literature. Her senior thesis was titled “The Initiation: From Innocence to Experience: The Pre-Adolescent/Adolescent Journey in the Films of Louis Malle, Pretty Baby and Lacombe Lucien.”


  9. Chanda says:

    I have to admit to writing an angry letter to Vogue about the Lisa Randall article. I didn’t like how she was portrayed, and I certainly didn’t appreciate the line about her looking more like an actress trying out for the role of Harvard professor. It brought back too many memories of repeatedly being told I didn’t look like a physicist even on days when I smelled and looked like the worst of them.

    The essence of what I wrote in the letter to the editor was that it’s important to recognize that women of all careers can be fashion leaders and that being hot and smart are not mutually exclusive, it’s unfortunate that this still glamourizes a woman who looks a certain way. I want little girls to realize that a woman in physics is just as feminine as the next, even if she doesn’t wear (what I thought was a rather boring) effeminate Oscar de la Renta business suit. Granted, I happen to be one of those femmes, but I realize that plenty of beautiful women in my field (and others) aren’t.

    We want the Lisa Randalls and all of the women who enhance their natural beautiy in other ways too, you know? Amusingly, my girlfriend suggested while we were in the Conde Nast building today that I could just go upstairs and talk to Anna Wintour about it in person if I wanted 🙂

    Generally speaking though, I am pleased to see a woman in physics get any kind of mass media attention! And I think it is so cool that Danica has a theorem (partly) named after her!!

  10. Clifford says:

    Gosh, they said that? Yes, we should all write angry letters then! I did not find my way to a magazine shop in town here in order to browse the relevant fragrant section to look for Vogue. Perhaps tomorrow. Thanks for the report… Yes, as a society, even on getting right these simple things we still have a long way to go, don’t we?


  11. Amara says:

    My friend Fiorella Terenzi? I am happy to say that she is smart, glamorous and drop-dead gorgeous. Her dual degrees from Milan were in astrophysics and music (she put radio astronomy data to music for her thesis work). She followed the musical branch for a while, including recording a couple of albums (I should say “CD”s now, in this century?) with Thomas Dolby, and writing a couple of popular astronomy books, more on her highly visible astronomical-musical presentations here. Now, she is teaching astronomy at a small college in Florida, exploring more parts of her love of teaching, astronomy, and music. Here is a magazine interview (cover), I did about her, in 1996, as I was in the beginning of making preparations for my large move to Germany for my PhD. Fiorella was and is an inspiration for me, and I’m happy that we have managed to keep in touch through these years.

  12. pedant says:

    Let’s not forget the ultimate dumb blonde – Dolph Lundgren: a Masters in Chemical Engineering from Sydney Uni (Aus) and holder of a Fulbright Scholarship to MIT. And – though he was never really cool – Brian May, who has, I think, finally got round to submitting his PhD at Imperial. I’m afraid the urge to be cool is as much a deterrent to intellectual endeavour for boys as it is for girls. Science will always be a haven for geeks and spods who can dream about being Feynman or, from now on, Lisa Randall. Maybe the continental Europeans are closer to appreciating the boffin’s elan – before he became a cyber-racist PG de Gennes was really cool. And that Marie Curie was a star – pretty much in the Hedy Lamarr bracket – all those years ago.

  13. Clifford says:

    Hey, lay off! Brian May was definitely cool. 🙂 I keep meaning to do a post on the fellow in view of recent news.


  14. Amara says:

    Clifford: Maybe wait until August 23. That is the day of Brian May’s thesis defense. My reading-between-the-lines of his recent blog entries is that he wants to downplay his (own) PhD until he actually finishes the process.

  15. Clifford says:

    I may well wait. not a lot to say that has not been said… just some thoughts from the days when, back at Imperial College, I … well, I’ll leave it until later.



  16. Mary Cole says:

    I think it was progress that Dr Who’s latest assistant was an attractive female medical student! We also have a programme called ‘Waking the Dead’ (or as it is known in our house ‘Shouting A Lot’ as it involves Trevor Eve as a flawed policeman who, well shouts a lot! Anyway, the programme has had a series of very attractive female scientist who are in charge of the laboratory. (It’s a show about ‘cold cases’, so they have their lab for a number of purposes.) It’s quite an interesting portrayal of the scientist in general as there is only ever one person (woman) in this lab and she does everything! Post mortems, general forensic work, DNA profiling, you name it. Anyway, the point I’m making is that although the examples I’ve mentioned are fictional portrayals, it’s refreshing to see women in science (for want of a better phrase) on TV who are attractive!
    You mention the Brompton. I’ve seen loads of Bromptons recently (much more than usual) and I’ve noticed that they tend to be used by the more responsible members of the cycling community.
    Finally, I happen to think that Brian May is still cool, both for his music, and for his promotion of astronomy through his contribution to books like ‘Bang’, appearing on the ‘Sky at Night’ and his website.

  17. candace says:

    Amara: Thanks for bringing up Dr Terenzi. I have (had?) a slight fascination with her and have always wondered where she had gone off to — she always struck me as if she was a very interesting person. I got her album ages ago and have been curious ever since. Let her know that we’d love to see another book from her!

  18. Chanda says:

    I thought the Brian May bit of info was the coolest information I had seen in ages when I read it the other day!! As far as I am concerned, it is yet another reason to think that Queen is one of the greatest rock bands in history.

    I also thought it sent a great message — it’s never too late if you really want it and can find the resources.

  19. stevem says:

    The Lisa Randall article is at

    but I think it is just a bit of the full article. Brian May has certainly shown the right career path for scientists: (i) begin astrophysics phd, (ii) take some time out to become axe legend and form one of the world’s greatest rock bands, (iii) return and complete phd. Excellent.

  20. Amara says:

    Hi Candace. She will be so pleased, I’ll tell her. I see, also, that some of her previous books are no longer in print, that’s sad; I’ll find out if there are plans for updates.

  21. Elliot says:

    Didn’t Kevin Costner do work mapping non-ambulatory audio/visual sensory images into quantifiable electro-chemical values?



  22. Clifford says:


    You know, I was on that track, and I blew it! I stuck with the physics and missed out the axe legend phase. Perhaps I will go down to the basement when I get back home and look at my old guitars (axes”?, can’t say that with a straight face) and think of all the long tour bus journeys I missed out on. Sigh….

    Thanks for the link. Pity they don’t seem to have the more contentful parts of the article up (I assume they exist) where maybe she talks about what she does for the general reader to stumble on while flipping the magazine for fashion tips… or whatever it is you read Vogue for.)


  23. Clifford says:

    Elliot… am I stretching a bit to try to connect this to the Untouchables… I’m either being dense, or I’m totally on the wrong track here.


  24. Elliot says:



    “Field of Dreams”

    sorry it was a bit of a stretch in the first place.


  25. Chanda says:

    if someone pesters me on saturday via email, i will scan the article when i get home to toronto.

  26. Clifford says:

    Ah… always good to know there is a Vogue subscriber when one needs one…. 🙂


  27. Clifford says:

    Elliot… never saw that one. Combination of Kevin Costner *and* a sports movie…… snooze button. (Now a million and one people will contact me to tell me I missed a classic. They’re probably right. I’ll see it some time, honest. Also, I know he can be good… just in the right movie…. e.g. the Untouchables…)


  28. Samantha says:

    I may be reading too much into this (so feel free to disagree with me) but the LR quote in Vogue has rubbed me up the wrong way. In the same way that Martha Stewart rubs me up the wrong way. I really resent the suggestion that women in physics “don’t know how to dress” (by which I understand this to mean: they don’t know whether to dress similarly to the men in their field or whether to dress more stereotypically, as a “woman”).

    Women in (theoretical) physics are a tiny minority. They are gossiped and speculated about in ways that has at times shocked me. To suggest that they should spend time thinking about their appearance so that they stand out more is really irritating to me.

  29. Elliot says:


    “you missed a classic”.

    see it sometime.


  30. pedant says:

    Re comment 22. You spanked the plank in your youth? (cf the Planck in your mature years) As well as the trumpet! What style, Clifford? Virtuoso flash (which might explain your soft spot for Brian May) or visceral thrash? Me, I always wanted to be Jeff Beck and, later, Joe Satriani. I knew that Hendrix was out of the question; now he really was cool.

  31. Elliot says:

    Hey who is stepping up to take responsibility for sending Chanda a reminder email? Wouldn’t want this to slip between the cracks.


  32. Chanda says:

    Hahaha, my mom WISHES I was a Vogue subscriber. I actually hate the magazine. I had to go to three stores to find it last week when I heard Lisa was in it. Apparently the bookstores I frequent are just too classy to carry many copies of Vogue.

    On the other hand, I do subscribe to Details, so if you ever need anything from that magazine, I will be happy to oblige 🙂

  33. Chanda says:

    By the way, if anyone else feels like writing to Vogue here is the letter I e-mailed them:
    Dear Vogue,

    As a woman and a doctoral student in theoretical physics, I was disappointed by Robert Sullivan’s profile of Lisa Randall in the August issue. While I am pleased to see women in physics get recognition wherever possible, I am weary of profiles that continue to marginalize those who are considered attractive and fashionable as “apt to be mistaken … for an actress studying for the part of Harvard professor.” It seems to suggest that because she is attractive and well-dressed, it’s improbable that Professor Randall could also be the incredibly talented mathematical scientist that she is.

    Will the world take us seriously if publications that claim to promote women, like Vogue, propose that women who look like Lisa Randall are more likely to be auditioning for the part rather than living it? Probably not.

    This is not to say that I do not salute the effort to recognize that women outside of traditionally fashion-oriented careers can be fashion leaders too. As an undergraduate in physics and astronomy at Harvard, I would lament regularly with a female classmate about the way in which those of us who liked to dress up were seemingly discouraged by the dominant culture from doing so. It is nice to see that women in physics are attaining recognition in ways that ensure their achievement will be measured according to their scientific product, not the femininity of their dress.

    This knife cuts both ways. Much as I don’t want to be judged because I obviously put thought into my daily wear, I have come to understand that women who choose not do so deserve recognition for their achievements both as women and as pioneers in our field. They are mentors for all of us, and we should be proud to advertise their accomplishments, whatever they are or aren’t wearing.

    Moreover, Vogue does women in physics and the little girls who will look up to them a disservice when it implicitly suggests that only women who look like Lisa Randall deserve recognition for their achievements in the popular press.


  34. Samantha says:

    Great letter Chanda!

    Your second to last paragraph really articulates what bothered me about the Vogue piece. If a woman wants to look like thinking man’s crumpet, she should be allowed to. But other women should be allowed to look however the hell they like, without judgment.

  35. Elliot says:

    Not to throw cold water on this thread, but do a google image search of “Danica McKellar”. One can assume the pictures she posed for were completely voluntary. Maybe I’m just getting old and cranky, but it seems there is something a bit disingenuous here.


  36. Clifford says:

    Hi Elliot,

    I had a quick look, but only the first page (I’m sitting here on my lunch break in a professional office trying to look professional). My first reaction is that I don’t understand your point at all. She’s a professional actress doing a bunch of glamour shots and the like. What’s wrong with that? (Maybe I’ve lived in LA too long.) Why is that incommensurate with doing mathematics and encouraging young girls to do the same? “Cute and Smart”, to use her term. In those pictures I don’t see her doing drugs, avoiding going to college to party more, crashing her car every week because she’s drunk, running away from crashed car… and so forth. All among the weekly antics of the other young “starlets” she mentioned. Are you making a more subtle point here? Or did I miss some shots of her doing those things on later pages?



  37. Elliot says:


    your reaction specifically to this pic?

    My point is simply that I see nothing at all wrong with being attractive and smart (aren’t we all ;)) but this picture and many more of her are clearly pictures of an objectified sex object. She can be whatever she wants but there is nothing in some of these pictures that would distinguish her from say a Paris Hilton, Britney et al.

    People are complex and evolve and perhaps this picture is from an earlier period in her life and she is moving in a new direction. But as we used to say in law school.. res ipsa loquitar.


  38. Clifford says:

    But she is not commenting on the pictures that have been taken of your Paris and Britney examples….. she commented on their public stupid behaviour (drunkenness, run-ins with the law, endangering the lives of others, I could go on) which has almost come to define them, and some kids treat them as role models. These things are completely different, I would argue (as would she). Allowing yourself to be promoted as a sex object is a different issue, for a separate discussion. I do not see an inconsistency in her position. Are you saying that “swimwear models” or people in other such industries are not to be encouraged to learn mathematics if they want to?


  39. Elliot says:

    Of course I encourage swimwear models and body builders and everyone else to learn mathematics and not drive drunk. Perhaps your point that allowing yourself to be promoted as a sex object is a different issue for a separate discussion is the correct conclusion here. And I agree that she is not being inconsistent. But I think the issue of women portrayed as sex objects vs. thinking human beings is relevant to this topic in a larger context. Maybe another thread at another time.



  40. Clifford says:

    I agree. In a larger context. But one must fight small battles one at a time in these complex issues. If Ms. McKellar manages to get a ton of schoolgirls taking themselves more seriously at mathematics and physics, even though they might still want to cavort around in various states of undress in public for whatever reason, I’d consider that progress.



  41. candace says:

    I’ve got the Lisa Randall Vogue goods right here, photo and quote:

  42. Clifford says:

    Hi candace, It is incomplete (I hope!!) see comments 19 and 22, and also a number of later ones discussing aspects of the content of the article.



  43. Urijah says:

    Some other Hollywood people with a more rigorous scientific background–

    Ashton Kutcher majored in biochemical engineering (did not complete).
    Ronald Reagan majored in economics and sociology
    Paul Verhoeven (director) Ph.D. in mathematics and physics

  44. Yvette says:

    Regarding Natalie Portman… I remember reading somewhere that she was an astro minor, and she said she would’ve majored/ become an astronomer if it wasn’t for acting. She was an Intel STS semifinalist too in microbiology, but submitted under her mother’s name or some such.

    As for Queen, regardless of how much we love Brian May let’s not forget to remember the other members of the band, alright? Because it’s not like med school was a walk in the park either. 🙂

    And regarding this topic as a whole… I have a story. See, one of my (increasingly numerous) dalliances that does not appear on my CV is how I’ve modelled for a professional photographer- he owns a gallery near campus, I went in there once on a date, and said photographer asked me to pose for him in a “I need to take your picture!” kind of way. You sort of can’t say no when an artist guy insists on taking your picture (I mean, come on) so I posed for him twice, and my picture is in his gallery.

    Now apparently, people occasionally recognize me while visiting this gallery in an “is that Yvette?” sort of way. The likeness is usually dismissed however- people conclude that it’s gotta just be a model who looks like me, because I’m a physics major!

    In my mind, this latter comment sums up the entire issue. Physics dress preconceptions aside, however, any physicists who disapprove of my swishy skirts can pry them from my cold, dead hands. 😛

  45. Clifford says:

    That’s got to be among the top five best sentences to end a comment here that I’ve ever seen!!!


  46. Chanda says:

    I think I can squash the Natalie minored in astro rumour … we were in the same class, and I was an astro grad that year. Harvard only started having such a thing as a minor after we graduated. I knew all of the astro majors, and she was certainly not one of them. Last we spoke, which was way before graduation, she was doing psych with a pre-med focus, which I guess gave way to her acting career?

    I should add in for amusement that to get an astro degree, one only needed to complete the physics requirements and take two or three more courses. Not really a challenge to graduate in physics and astronomy and astrophysics instead of just physics … 🙂

  47. Chanda says:

    It crosses my mind to add that one person who was actually an astro major was a study partner of mine, Allison Porter. She also happened to be Miss Washingon 2004! You can learn a bit about her and see a cool picture of her in her boxing gloves (she boxed at Harvard) here.

  48. Clifford says:

    Chanda:- Thanks for the info and the link!


  49. joe says:

    I just saw the local KABC entertainment reporter (George Pinochio) do a story on Tina Louise (“Ginger” from Gilligans Island). She just came out with a book ‘When I Grow Up’ similar to D. McKellar’s new book, aimed at educating young kids on career paths. Interestingly, she is using a scientific approach: cross-over animal/insect evolutionary models:

    This inspiring book from actress Tina Louise brings nature and the animal kingdom together to invigorate children to reach for the stars in anything they do. Louise cleverly compares the role of an animal or insect side by side to what a child can grow up to be. Fireflies glow in the dark; an aspiring actress can shine on the silver screen. Spiders spin elaborate webs; an aspiring architect can create a skyscraper. Children will think of their own talents as they read along and be inspired to excel. When I Grow Up shows that amazing things are happening all the time—and that young readers can grow up to be amazing, too!

    Ironic, that the “sexy” actress is using a biological-model approach, whereas the “brainy” Danica is using a stereotypical-model (dare I say “sexist”) approach. Each method is a strategy to reach their audience.

    The interview with Tina Louise indicated her love of teaching. BTW, Bob Denver (who played Gilligan) was in real-life a high-school teacher & very intelligent (in contrast to the character he played). There were real-life spats between the 2 on the set of Gilligan’s Island, Bob was a stickler for being on “time” (discipline from education background)..Tina was chronically late (whimsical behavior, ala Paris Hilton, et al).

    At the end of the report, there was mention that D. McKellar was to be named ABC Person of the Week. (west coast airing at 6:30pm).

  50. John Branch says:

    A few reactions: One, I work for one of the Condé Nast magazines and got hold of a copy of the August Vogue as soon as I heard that Lisa Randall was in it. I don’t have a way of scanning the text, but I can at least offer to print the Randall article from a PDF of the issue and mail it to Clifford if he hasn’t found it. By the way, her profile was part of a set with the collective title “The Best Years of Our Lives: Vogue salutes eleven women who live, love, and (occasionally) act their age.” It presented women in their 20s up through their 90s; Randall represented women in their 40s.

    I can explain why the text of the accompanying articles wasn’t posted along with the slideshow of images: Condé Nast magazines use their websites as a way of “driving” (the marketing term) people to their main product, which is the print publications. They typically post online some, not all, of the articles from each issue.

    Two, the full-page photo of Randall was quite attractive but was also the most glammed-up image I’ve ever seen of her. (I have my own version, based on an image in Scientific American, here).

    Three, I was pleased with some of the things I learned about Randall in that article. For instance, that she has a boyfriend who’s a rock climber. Since I’m aware that physicists are often drawn to rock climbing and mountaineering, I had wondered whether she was among them. (If anyone can point me to further reports on that intersection, i.e., of physics and challenging hobbies, I’d be thankful.)

    Finally, on the question of paying attention to what you wear (which Chandra addressed beautifully above), there’s a striking speech in the movie version of The Devil Wears Prada in which the fashion-magazine editor responds to her new assistant’s untutored attitude by explaining how the fashion industry in fact has its influence over what we wear in ways we probably don’t realize. She also manages to cast in a different light her assistant’s belief that she is “too important to care about” what she throws on her back in the morning. As Chandra suggested, one can attend to one’s look, or not; what we want is to be accepted whatever our choice is. (Apologies for this paragraph, which I know is somewhat off the subject.)

  51. Clifford says:

    Thanks John.

    I’m actually not in any need to see or own the article for myself. After all, I know pretty well who Lisa is and what she does for a living already. I just wanted to point people who were not in the field to it in case they wanted to see it.

    Yes, a lot of physicists like rock-climbing. Lisa is actually said to be be a very good and adventurous climber. The boyfriend and his also climbing is irrelevant to this part…. she’s been rock-climbing at a serious level for many years. You’ll have to ask her (or other climbers) for more information about their personal take on why they like it, since I have no first hand experience.



  52. Mark Srednicki says:

    Clifford, I wonder if you are aware of what you and I would undoubtedly consider to be the high point of Danica McKellar’s acting career:


  53. Clifford says:

    Hi Mark,

    Thanks! No I did not know about that! Excellent find. That is indeed the high point, at least so far.



  54. Amara says:

    Well 50 – John Branch really rubbed me the wrong way!

    >Three, I was pleased with some of the things I learned about Randall in
    >that article. For instance, that she has a boyfriend who’s a rock

    What about _her_? Sheesh…

    A couple of decades ago my highschool sweetheart was a rockclimber, and I was always hanging around (photography, actually). Is that odd too?

    >(If anyone can point me to further reports on that intersection, i.e.,
    >of physics and challenging hobbies, I’d be thankful.)

    There seems to be an established link between musicians and scientists, but there are plenty of cases of scientists who have challenging hobbies, and some are women too.

    Some time ago there was a British female mathematician (physicist?) interviewed by BBC (Vega Trust?) who engaged in fencing ? (or another medieval sport).. I can’t remember, nor find in my old messages, but the info came via cosmicvariance (perhaps Clifford will remember). She impressed the hell out of me, and that video got wide airplay.


    P.S. I like visiting volcanoes (hopefully when they are erupting).

  55. Amara says:

    I apologize. That was knee-jerk reaction, probably based on seeing too many instances of a woman’s worth being measured by the value of her partner/boyfriend/spouse. Even if you were just making a query as to Lisa Randall’s hobbies, John, it might be better not to anchor your query to her boyfriend. The article was about her, after all.

    In the future, I would like to see, has scientists excelling in more than one thing, and in this future, such an event would not be considered remarkable, just normal. In this future I would like to see are equal numbers of women excelling in more than one thing, and that would be considered normal too.

    The British program that I was trying to remember is documentary by Vega Trust about Emma King, a mathematician-cosmologist. I was impressed by her because she is not only a gifted mathematician, she is dyslexic, and in her hobbies: she plays harp, performs in theatre productions and engages in live role-playing including Kung Fu and Sword fighting.