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The Sciences

Theoretical Physics Goes Corporate?

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Twice in four months. Can't complain. Perhaps because (I like to think...not really beleiving it) someone heard about my vision to have more physics out there in the mainstream, and part of the popular culture, there's been some progress. The New Yorker (and other publications) has had advertisements featuring lots of equations straight from your garden variety theoretical physics notebook. We are not talking about a little postage stamp sized occurence, but a full glossy page of the magazine. This means that somebody realized that one can use physics equations to catch the eye of the general reader and bring them in (to buy your product) rather than frighten them away, which is what is usually assumed by the people who decide on these things. I think this is progress. See also my recent observation of the appearance of equations being written by the lead in a recent blockbuster movie and you'll get to thinking that my topsy-turvy reverse-universe I have fun imagining from time to time, where science is part of mainstream popular culture, is starting to become true. Well.... maybe not...but it is nice to imagine. Here are the two sightings: The first New Yorker ad (for a well-known credit card) caught my eye way back in January, but I got completely distracted from blogging about it by being extremely busy with work. It is Mike Lazaridis, the brain behind that Blackberry that's got your thumbs all weirdly worn on one side, and whose vision and generosity gave us the wonderful Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics:

Mike_lazaridis.jpg

Back then I was going to do a post about it mainly to find out who wrote the equations, since it is not Mike's field. Well, I learned just now that it was Theoretical Physicist Melanie Becker! Well, yesterday, upon opening my copy of this week's New Yorker, I spotted, to my delight, the following:

ad_equations.jpg

This was an ad for an SUV, would you believe. I have not a clue what the slogan means, but who the hell cares? Now I'm pretty sure that the person in the picture is familiar.... not an actress, but in fact (I'm guessing) Theoretical Physicist Lisa Randall! I'm not sure though, but the hair, hands and bracelet look right. [strike] Lisa, is that you? Excellent![/strike] [Update: Nope. It has been pointed out by a number of readers that I'm very much in error. This is not Lisa. Pity, really. See comment thread.] More please, Corporate America. More, more! -cvj

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