Something 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 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 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 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.
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!)
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!