I've been so busy the past couple of weeks that I missed an important event: The 5th "blogoversary" on February 5 of Cocktail Party Physics! It started out with just me and snarky faux-French avatar Jen-Luc Piquant, before expanding into a group blog for the last couple of years. And as a special blogoversary treat (for me, anyway), tonight I'll make my network TV debut as a guest on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson at 12:35 PM on CBS, so set your DVRs if you're not a night owl.
Given that we'll write about anything vaguely science related at the cocktail party, you're probably wondering what the heck we talked about. Flying snakes? The Vdara Hotel death ray in Vegas? Hitting unsuspecting insects with tiny cream pies launched from itty-bitty catapults? Carnivorous furniture? Zombies? (Heck, there's an entire Zombie Research Society these days, so zombie science is hot, y'all!) Lady Gaga's fashion choices? This being Craig Ferguson and late-night TV, I even had a couple of crowd-pleasing risque items in the mental fodder file, like the very real PubMed paper describing a "hot-melt method" for freeing a man's penis caught in a piece of PVC pipe. (Jen-Luc Piquant wonders why that dude couldn't just buy a blow-up doll like a normal person.)
As it happens, we didn't talk about any of that. I was advised not to force any topics and just go with the flow of conversation and have fun, so that's what I did. And the time whipped by; it's frankly a blur. To find out what we actually talked about, you'll just have to watch. But in honor of five years in the blogosphere (and counting), here's a sampling of some of my favorite posts. And in honor of Host-With-the-Most Craig Ferguson, here's one of my favorite segments from his show, featuring those amazing lip-synching puppets and, of course, Leather Boy:
Stupid Human Tricks
Come Firewalk With Me. What happens when a UCLA physicist tries to impress his students with a stint of firewalking? Badly burned feet, that's what.
By the Sword. Why yes, there's a science to sword swallowing!
Juggle Me This. The mathematics of juggling.
Making the Break. On the science of shooting pool and my enduring love for Witchblade.
XX vs. XY
Tit for Tat. Is the guy you're dating more like general relativity or quantum mechanics? This handy guide breaks it down for you.
Bait and Switch. In which I offer dating advice to lonely geeks.
Every Sperm is Sacred. Physics lends a helping hand with a new sperm-sorting technique.
Ringing Up the Changes. Sure, you think those tolling bells are just cacaphony, but there's an art — and math! to change-ringing. The bells toll for thee.
Stradivari's Secret. Why do Stradivari violins set the standard for sound quality above all other violins? If it wood fungus, or just that we hear what we expect to hear?
I Hear the Cosmos Singing. The Northern Lights, Saturn's rings, and black holes all have a "voice" in the great cosmic symphony.
Singing Sands. That classic Dr. Who episode might be fiction, but the singing sands phenomenon is very real.
Much Depends on Dinner. Sure, we can use the Zagat's guide to find great restaurants when we travel, but what if you're just a lowly amoeba?
Brew Masters. The age-old science of beer.
Brain Candy. An overview of the current status of research into the science of chocolate.
Snap, Crackle, Pop. What does your morning bowl of Rice Krispies have to do with glass?
A Spark in the Dark. What's it called when you bite into a Wint-O-Green Lifesaver in the dark and see a flash of green light? Triiboluminescence! Use it in a sentence today!
The Legend of Finn McCool. What formed Ireland's Giant's Causeway? A battle between a folk hero and a Scottish giant, or something even weirder?
Hot Capillary Action. The formation of "ice flowers" and a Buddha that "weeps" milk both rely on the little-known capillary force.
By a Whisker. Rats use their whiskers to sense and navigate, so what happens when you remove those whiskers? Answer? They find this "very upsetting."
They Like To Move It, Move It. On the Improbability Drive in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and microscopic Brownian motion.
What's That Stuff?
It's Better With Bubbles. Bubbles! Why do we love them so? The science is more complex than you think.
A Girl's Best Friend. The cautionary tale of my ruined engagement ring, with a foray into the science of gold and diamonds.
Shiny Things. Lovers of opal jewelry, behold the power of photonic crystal structures in nature to create eye-catching iridescence!
Primordial Ooze. Fun with Dr. Seuss and a weird substance called "oobleck" that stiffens when you punch it.
And finally, the highest-trafficked post in our five-year history: The Photon Has Two Faces. It's all about the centuries-long debate on whether light was a particle or wave, with a special cameo appearance by Ms. Paris Hilton doing an experiment showing that it's, well, both. Warning: Contains quantum mechanics and exploding Paris Hilton head.