ch-ch-ch-changes

SoundjenlucSomething is stirring in the science blogosphere, a whiff in the air serving as a harbinger of pending change…. Okay, maybe not in the entire blogosphere, but big changes are coming to Cocktail Party Physics over the next few weeks. That mischievous faux-French revolutionary, Jen-Luc Piquant, has staged a coup, declaring it to be — first and foremost — her own personal cocktail party, and she's tired of only having one "guest": i.e., me. For my part, I'm getting a little bored with the sound of my own voice — plus, book-writin' will shortly begin in earnest after a summer of copious note-taking doing my own unique form of "research" (Vegas, baby! and Disneyland!). Posts are already averaging four-to-five days apart, and I'm loathe to expand that gap any further. Besides, shaking things up now and then is good: it keeps you from getting into a rut.

So after nearly three wild years with just me and my avatar, Jen-Luc has taken the plunge and invited additional folks to the party. Shockingly, they have accepted. That's right, Cocktail Party Physics will become a group blog. Rest assured, Jen-Luc will continue to reign over the festivities with her trademark snark and her iron Cyberfist. This blog's irreverent tenor, sense of play, and focus on putting science back into the broader culture will remain unchanged. I'll still be on hand with my long-winded, quirky posts, but now there will be other voices, too, offering more diversity of writing styles, an even wider variety of topics and opinions, and perhaps even shorter posts (sacrilege!). Who knows, I might be inspired to experiment with a bit of brevity myself, despite being genetically hard-wired to ramble on. And on. And on.

So without further ado, here are the fabulous women signing onto Jen-Luc Piquant's "Guest List":

Calla_avatar_2 Calla Cofield: I met Calla when she was fresh from her studies (physics, with a dash of science writing), interning for the American Physical Society by contributing to Physical Review Focus and the Physics Central blog, Physics Buzz.  Then she moved to SLAC, writing for SLAC Today and Symmetry Magazine. She impressed me right way as one to watch: I loved her unique "voice," fun-loving approach, and creativity — not mention skill at rudimentary pod-casting — so I'm delighted she's joining us.

Lee Lee Kottner: Regular readers are already familiar with Lee, who has guest-blogged on occasion, and also designs all the Jen-Luc avatars. She describes herself as "an unapologetic science, tech and Star Wars geek and Trekker; a former wannabe marine biologist; and dilettante whose professional dabblings include writer, editor, college instructor, blogging addict, and book artist." We met when I'd just moved to NYC fresh out of college, and we both worked crappy jobs for minimal pay as copy editors for a legal publisher. Eventually she found a job with the American Institute of Physics — and also brought me to the American Physical Society. She didn't mean to turn me into a science writer. But it happened. And now I have corrupted her in turn, making her a science blogger. Bwa-ha-ha!

Diandra Diandra Leslie-Pelecky: You might recognize Diandra from this two-part Q&A interview at the cocktail party earlier this year, upon publication of her first popular science book, The Physics of NASCAR. She's also a physics professor at the University of Texas, Dallas, and has long been committed to education, outreach, and better communication of physics research. She's funny, outspoken, and tells terrific stories. She really enjoyed her anthropological expedition to the NASW meeting this past weekend, noting a few differences between a meeting of science writers and that of physicists: "Science writers swear a lot more. And there was actually a line for the ladies' room." We decided that would be a great title for her memoir as a woman in physics: There's Never a Line for the Ladies' Room.

Mglord M.G. Lord: One of the nicest surprises of moving to downtown LA was discovering that my neighbors included the author of a much-loved book, Forever Barbie: The Unauthorized Biography of a Real Doll. (Ten years later, it's still in print. It's that fun!) We met at Randy Olson's place this past summer — part of a group dinner to welcome visiting author Carl Zimmer — and quickly discovered we had much in common, including old movies and science history, plus, we both lived in NYC at the same time (me in the East Village, she in Greenwich Village). Her many hats include that of cartoonist, journalist and cultural historian. M.G.'s most recent book, Astroturf: The Private Life of Rocket Science, is part history of Pasadena's Jet Propulsion Lab, part memoir of her own troubled relationship with her father, a JPL aeronautics engineer. I told her an author really ought to have a bloggy outlet for writerly effluvia, and am thrilled that this argument worked and she agreed to join CPP.

And then there's me, Jennifer Ouellette, English major turned science writer, author of two books with a third in progress, who somehow still finds time to blog because I love it so much. I'm hoping to add one or two more women to the roster, too, as their schedules free up. (You know who you are!)

Allyson UPDATE: A little extra last-minute arm-twisting snagged another regular contributor for Jen-Luc's "guest list": Allyson Beatrice, occasional commenter at Cosmic Variance, even more occasional blogger at Depth of a Puddle, and my fellow Buffy fan, as evidenced by her book of essays, Will the Vampire People Please Leave the Lobby? I have no idea how frequently she'll blog — Allyson is unpredictable that way; months go by sometimes between Depth of a Puddle posts — but whenever she does, it will be sharp, snarky, just a wee bit scatalogical — and hugely entertaining. She's a repeat offender when it comes to committing random acts of sarcasm. Check out her most recent post over there if you don't believe me.

Anyway, we're now in the process of collecting "official" bios, creating avatars, and tweaking the site design to reflect the switch. It will probably happen in stages over the next few weeks, as we all have deadlines and such to attend to. But new voices will begin appearing right away. Look for a post by Calla in the next few days, and possibly one from Lee, in addition to my usual post or two. And you can still find me blogging three times a week at Twisted Physics: today's post, "Little Green Men," is all about the Fermi Paradox, with some bonus video footage featuring John Hodgman. Jen-Luc says check it out!

19 thoughts on “ch-ch-ch-changes”

  1. I love the blog and look forward to the new essays.
    You are light on Y chromosomes, however. I hope you allow
    an occasional Y-barbarian to post occasionally.

  2. The XX emphasis is very deliberate. Surely you’re not suggesting that this is somehow unfair? 🙂 In the hard sciences like physics, particularly, women still only make up 15-25% of that group. There are fewer physics blogs compared to other scientific disciplines, and those physics blogs tend to be written by men, with some notable exceptions (myself, Sciencegeekgirl, etc). We’ve got a long way to go before things get lopsided in FAVOR of women. So I see nothing wrong with focusing on women’s voices at the cocktail party for the time being — especially since every one of the “voices” is smart, savvy, witty, and yes, insightful. We’re all interested in science and ideas, and I think that will be reflected in the posts.
    That said, the occasional guest post by those with Y chromosomes would certainly not be ruled out. Honestly? I had so much trouble getting folks to serve as guest bloggers over the last year, I wouldn’t hold my breath. I’m not even sure whether this whole “group blog” thing will work out. But I’m excited to try the experiment, and thrilled that such great women — and great writers — have agreed to join me.

  3. “The XX emphasis is very deliberate. Surely you’re not suggesting that this is somehow unfair? :)”
    I guess its OK as long as it doesnt morph into XXX 🙂

  4. So is the link to your Twisted Physics blog over at Discovery.com permanently gone from the website?
    (Or am I just not seeing it?)

  5. On the subject of website changes…
    I like the various “jenluc” icons.
    Do you think you might eventually put them all on a webpage or something where we can see all of them together?

  6. Ah, the many faces of Jen-Luc… She’s not going anywhere with her many moods. There will be new avatars for the new contributors, though. I hadn’t thought about a page showing all her various “looks.” It’s not out of the question, just not a priority at this point. I’ll play around with the idea…

  7. Really? I was on NOVA?? I had no idea! Like, two YEARS ago I participated in an interview (reluctantly, because I hate being held up as some sort of “expert” on science), but I just assumed nothing had ever come it. I hope I didn’t say anything too embarrasing. 🙂

  8. Just two very short non-technical quotes on Mandelbrot geometries, but I did notice when your name came up. You can see the quotes in the transcript if you don’t have time to watch the program.

  9. Nooooo! Not shorter posts!
    Looking forward to reading the posts of the new bloggers, though. The more the merrier…

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