Sunday, November 18, 2012

Plan to Shift Formats

Motivated by my own ambivalence about keeping an anonymous blog, and spurred on by recent posts in SpotOn London from two of my blogosphere heroines Female Science Professor and Athene Donald I have decided to discontinue this EarlyToBed Blog and switch to a signed format, linked to my twitter account @mineralphys.

I am looking forward to the accountability of a signed blog, and am hoping that less anonymity will encourage more back-and-forth discussion with readers.

I will post a link here when my first post is launched.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The day I became my grandparents

I woke up with bunions and put on stockings and chunky ill-fitting shoes. Did yoga and flipped through Prevention magazine. Took suggested supplements, especially vitamin E. Spritzed with White Linen. Stuck tissues in my sleeves, and went to the hairdresser. She did an awful job on the blow-dry, but I’ll manage. Sent this week’s batch of birthday and anniversary cards. Went food shopping. Shoved extra plastic bags in my purse. Made apple cake, apple pie, roasted a chicken. Rolled out noodles. Rolled out mandelbrot. Rolled out rugelach. With cream cheese dough. With sour cream dough. Washed the car, got on a ladder and cleaned out the gutters. Cleaned the garage. Caught up with family and friends. Kvelled over good news, especially related to children’s academic achievement. Tsk-tsk-ed at all the bad news. Ate family dinner. Knit sweater. Listened to books on tape. Laughed at late night TV. Fell asleep to AM talk radio squealing in my ear.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Writing Woes

I love designing and doing experiments. I love analyzing data. I love doing experiments and looking at data with students. I love deriving equations. I love teaching.

All of these parts of my job are easy and fun compared with the writing part. I don’t dislike writing, I just habitually procrastinate my writing because everything else is easier and feels like more fun. Fear of failure? Fear of success? Low-level attention disorder? Who knows. What I do find I need is practical advice and continual support and reinforcement.

I have much to say professionally: data to show, ideas to share, and papers to write. I still have a long way to go to be the academic writer I would like to be, but I’m much better than I used to be thanks to these two of my favorite resources for academic writers.

1. The writings of Robert Boice, the gentle godfather of all academic writers.

I recommend Advice for New Faculty Members for anyone who is or would like to be a professor, or for anyone who works in a multifaceted creative job. Boice stresses Nihil Nimus, meaning nothing in excess, or everything in moderation (I notice that Boice, like the Old Testament, prefers the negative formulation of commandments, e.g.  don't rush to writing, don't wait until you feel ready, don't neglect other priorities like rest, socializing and exercise )

For more of a detailed walk-through of a very practical behavioral therapy approach to academic writing, consider reading How Writers Journey to Comfort and Fluency: A Psychological Adventure.

2. The Academic Ladder Writing Clubs

Online writing clubs providing coached support for small groups of academic writers. Partially based on the philosophies and ideas of Boice, above.
There is a monthly feel. Consider asking your adviser/department chair/dean/chancellor to pay for your membership, as part of your professional development.

For free, here's a preview: Write in brief, daily sessions. Brief can be 15 minutes. Daily is important.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Invocations to precede decision-making for hiring scientists

Please grant me the serenity
To squarely face my own biases.
To recognize others’ strengths, even in areas where I lack that strength.
To accept others’ failings in the same way that I strive to accept my own.
To realize that there is more than one way to do good science.
And that my way is not necessarily the only way.
Please grant me the serenity
To recognize accomplishments
And to recognize potential in others.
Even though others might look very very very different from me

Speak out, Hallelujah!
When you hear a wrong, make it right!
When you hear bias, pick the fight!
Equality should not require riot!
But this is not the time for quiet!
Use your logic!
Mind your fears!
Support young colleagues!
And their careers!

Dear Gods of Science
Please forgive me
For I am biased.
It is not on purpose, for I bear no ill will towards any gender.
I might even be a girl (excuse me a woman) myself.
I’m just as biased as any man.
Because my brain is not very scientific.
(Except for when it is consciously trying to be)
For even though I am a scientist
I am human.
And though I serve the Gods of Science whilst I am awake
I am not always awake.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Skills for Scientists

Please drop a line if you have more to add!
Scientific knowledge base
Depth of knowledge in chosen subject area
Breadth of knowledge in general field, adjacent fields, scientific literacy

Approach-specific knowledge base
Laboratory, field, theoretical/modeling approaches

Quantitative skills
Setting up a problem
Back of the envelope calculations
            Basic computing--algebra
            More advanced computing—linear algebra/differential equations
Receptive communication skills
            Listening to seminars

Active communication skills
            Writing papers
            Writing proposals
            Writing “one-pagers”
            Designing Posters
            Presenting research
            Graphic design

Dynamic communication skills
            Reviewing papers/proposals
Poster sessions
            Working in pairs and/or groups

“fuzzy” skills
Creativity: coming up with new approaches
Curiosity: asking scientific questions
 Sense of scale of problem: How much detail is necessary?
Productivity: Getting things off the desk, though not necessarily perfect

Clich├ęd but useful:
“Eighty percent of success is showing up”            -Woody Allen
 “Don’t boil the ocean”

Science is (or should be) about play: playing with ideas, numbers, pictures, puzzles.
A good science course should introduce students to scientific puzzling—so that scientists can ultimately figure out their own puzzles and solve them.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

List of Department Seminars in Geo* Field Part I

I started with the top part of the list of NRC rankings for geosciences, and am working my way through it.
If your department isn't listed here, it's either because I have not yet looked or the current seminar series is not published in an easily-accessed way.

7 men
3 women

12 men
1 woman

2 women
10 men

9 men
1 woman

12 Men
3 Women

2 women
6 men

3 women
4 women
6 men

13 men
1 woman

3 women
9 men

9 men
4 women

0 women
8 men

6 women
10 men
6 men
5 women
6 women
6 men

7 men
3 women

6 men
0 women

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The longest ever “Early Career”

Recently, I was an invited participant to a prestigious scientific convention for the brightest shining early-career stars. I was flattered of course. It is fun to meet with scientists from every discipline, and hear interesting talks, and meet new people. I like conferences, and am always on the lookout for good science and kindred spirits.

The registration form contained the usual spaces for poster title, research abstract, brief biography, and birthdate. With year. This last bit I left blank.

The conference organizers—smart people—would easily see that one of the reasons I’m such an exemplary early career person—all those accomplishments!—is because I’ve been “early career” for (-ahem-) 15 to 20 years, depending on how you count. And at either bound, it was not an early start. 
I'm afraid I'd be kicked out. Or perhaps added to the panel tasked with discussing "Old-Fart Science."
If you normalize my accomplishments to my years-at-it, I am not at all exemplary, but simply a working scientist who divides her time among research, teaching, service, family, friendships, occasional recreation, and sleeping and eating.

Why am I perceived as early career when I am actually much closer to menopause?
Here are my top 3 ideas:
1.     I’m short, but not without gravitas. Excuse me. Gravity.
2.     I use the word “awesome” liberally when talking about science that I think is awesome.
3.     Perhaps it’s the pink glitter I use in my hair.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Departmental Colloquia Aggregator

It is interesting to track who is giving what talks and at which University/Research Center.

I have decided to start a Tumblr to aggregate this information for my field.

I am also tweeting the links. Please follow @goearlytobed

Please send me links to departments you would like to see included in the aggregator!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Personal Statement Mad-Lib

(Scientific Sub-Sub-Field) Research at  (Venerable Institution)

            My research group examines the behavior of (plural noun) under conditions of (adjective) (state variable) which is important for (place) within the larger (another place). My group consists of (a whole number) people who do (experimental, theoretical, modeling) work to measure (a physical property) to unprecedented precisions of (a number) (SI unit). Our results tell us about the (gerund) of (noun: singular or plural). This research is especially relevant to (adjacent scientific sub-sub-field) and (scientific sub field). This research program is funded by (government agency).

Sunday, September 16, 2012

New Academic Year

The summer has ended, most of the rest of the people in my life have been back into the swing of the new academic year. Since classes don’t start at my University until the end of next week, I have been able to pretend until now that it is still glorious summer. But this is my new year.

And it has been a glorious summer, though with close reminders of the bittersweet necessity to live life as richly as possible. I enjoyed family, friends, messing about in boats, and a new turn of phrase: to do a science. I did lots of sciences this summer. I derived a series of equations. I started to learn programming in Mathematica so I may see how the equations behave. I ran a few fun experiments at synchrotrons. I talked with students about their research, and did lots of reading, writing, and editing.

Each year, my summer ends with my first teaching dream of the school year. Spoiler alert: this dream is a teaching-anxiety dream in impostor-syndrome subcategory.

Here’s the real part: This fall I am taking on a new course (for me), a meaty, required graduate class that is required for the PhD program, and taken by most of the first year graduate students. I requested this change after teaching an also meaty, also required undergraduate course for the past ten years. I loved it for nine years, and then all of a sudden I didn’t and I knew I needed a break. Also, the graduate class is squarely in my discipline, and I had concerns that some of my colleagues were forgetting I was of that discipline. I asked the department chair nicely, and my requests were accommodated. Or, as my department chair put it recently in a slightly different context: “You asked for it!”

Here’s the dream part: Remember the retirement party from my first blog post? The professor who retired, one of the shining stars of the discipline, and had famously/infamously taught this course for many years. He consulted with the department chair and together they decided that I shouldn’t be allowed to teach this course, because I have never TA’d it. So eminent professor came back from retirement *solely* so he could teach this course so that I could be his TA. I woke up in the middle of the first lecture, when the professor introduced their TA (me) to the class, and walked out of the room while I addressed them.

I was happy to wake up, but sad the summer’s over, but glad to be kick-starting the swing of the new academic year, and glad to be preparing my own teaching notes, and learning a new course.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Laboratory Eden

Recently I worked in my lab for the first time in a long while. I found my lost car key on one of the benches. The same key that my husband replaced for me in honor of our 15th wedding anniversary.

15 years ago I was eager and impatient to run my own laboratory. I had worked in others' laboratories since undergraduate days, and believed I could do it better. I learned to “play” in a lab early from my biomedical engineer father who would leave me alone for hours with microscopes, circuit boards, power supplies, oscilliscopes, an old EKG machine & treadmill, and other delights to take apart and put back together.

During my early years of setting up my own lab, my PhD advisor would regale me with his vision of centralized labs—“playgrounds” for scientists, staffed with technicians and other scientists. At the time I had too much invested in my own vision of my own lab and what I wanted to accomplish that I was unable to truly listen to his idea.

But now I would love to be able to do I want what (um….I mean have my students do what they want) in an externally managed laboratory playground environment, with technical support.

In fact, we do many of our experiments at synchrotron beamlines, which are shared community resources to perform experiments that many of us in the field have in common. It is far more efficient to have staffed, group facilities to perform these experiments. However, beamtime is expensive, and the requirement for user-friendliness often implies that experiments be engineered for existing capabilities, rather than the other way around. So these shared facilities are not quite the “playground” that my PhD advisor envisioned.

It is a false dichotomy to ask “centralized facilities? vs. individual labs?”  What I’d like best is unlimited access to a combination of (1) user facilities specialized for specific experiments (e.g. microscopes, beamlines), (2) my own laboratory in which students, post-docs and I have free reign to try new things and make mistakes and develop new experimental techniques to address our questions. The problem is (1) is usually too specialized and inflexible and therefore not the place for innovation and (2) often operates on a shoestring, necessarily limited, and can be isolating and lonely.

Enter the mythological Laboratory Eden: well-managed, staffed with knowledgeable helpful people, equipment-rich, scientist-playground where people come, work, build, talk, laugh, share their ideas with each other, listen, learn, and love (science).

Friday, July 27, 2012

Marriage Anniversary Markers

Recently, my husband & I celebrated our 15th Wedding Anniversary. This year's anniversary present (see below) was extra special, since it came in the classic powder blue box.  For a list of the more traditional anniversary markers, go here.

1st            Camping Trip Anniversary
2nd           Basement Flood Anniversary
3rd            Diaper Anniversary
4th            Purple Puddingstone Anniversary
5th            Cross Country Move Annivesary
6th            Serpentinite Anniversary
7th            Maple Syrup Anniversary
8th            Jasper Anniversary
9th            Sushi Anniversary
10th          Handcarved Wooden Bowl Anniversary
11th          Grandma-calls-to-remind-us-it’s-our Anniversary
12th          Marital Counseling Anniversary
13th          I Can’t Believe We’re Still Married! Anniversary
14th          New Job Anniversary
15th          Replaced Lost Car Key Anniversary

Monday, July 9, 2012

Hot summer affair (with science)

The previous entry’s todo and nottodo lists have been very helpful to me so far this summer. I’m a to-do-list achiever. So far this summer I have been deeply involved in trying to develop a formalism for dealing with phase boundaries at equilibrium, and am having a great time doing so.

Geosciences are a bit different from physics and chemistry in that our problems are generally inverse problems, not forward problems. In all cases, the process of science uses observations to test models of how nature works. If you are a scientist who does not quite fit into this category, like a string theorist, “god-bless” as they say in my family parlance. In physics & chemistry, generally the scientist plans and runs the experiments. In geoscience, planetary science and astronomy, the Earth and planets and stars run the experiment for us, and we have to make good observations, and figure out what the results mean. And nature does not keep an organized lab notebook, but instead leaves hints lying around.

In petrology—the study of rocks—or more generally the study of Earth & planetary materials—one of the hints is how elements and isotopes partition between two phases at equilibrium—often a melt and a solid. We have lots of data both from the Earth, and from the lab. But it’s not straightforward. In both environments—lab and natural-world—it is hard to achieve and ascertain equilibrium. So one of my questions is—can we predict how element and isotope partitioning behave away from equilibrium? 

We have a lot of data—from the Earth and from experiments. And my research group has collected a huge data set over the past ~8 years or so on metal stable isotope partitioning between fluid and solid during electroplating, and there are certain aspects of the data that appear not to be predictable by the simple kinetic theories. Yes I can go to more complicated theories, but they provide too many free variables for my scientific taste. I hate fitting 8 variables to a data set. I can fit anything that way! Is there a simpler framework to understand element and isotope partitioning?

I have been working on this question in a low-key way for years, and in an accelerated manner the last several weeks. I’ll write more about the development of the theory—I still have lots to do, and lots of predictions to make, and lots of predictions to test. But now I want to write about how much fun I’m having.

I’m having so much fun doing this! I’m learning so much! I wake in the morning thinking about my beloved interfaces at equilibrium, often with a new idea, a new approach. And I’ve been spending 5-6 hours at a time many days working through the algebra and the implications of the calculations. Drawing pictures of interfaces, and finding ways to explain them to myself and others. I am thinking of how to incorporate some of the ideas I’m working on into my class this fall. And starting to outline the paper.

Sometimes science is a slog, and I just continue pushing forward, thankful for the occasional delicious small bits that come across my way.  Right now though, it’s a full-blown romantic affair complete with happy dreams, elevated mood, and anticipatory excitement about the object of my affection.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


                  To Do
                To Not Do
Develop a thermodynamic formalism for dealing with two-dimensional phase boundaries.

Develop a departmental policy for dealing with two-academic couples.

Belt out the soundtrack of Rent during the morning commute to campus
Rehearse my lecture notes during the morning commute to campus
Run lots of fun experiments at the synchrotron

Write lots of SOPs for my lab here at the U.
Catch up with dear colleagues at two conferences in beautiful locations.

Catch the words of colleagues during faculty meetings for accurate minutes.
Submit two proposals and three papers. Work on experiments, papers, and abstracts with grad students.

Submit dossier and teaching and research statements. Work on curriculum committee, nominations committee, and sign undergraduate course change requests.
Family vacation on the water, in the woods, in front of the campfire.

Family shlepping to music lessons, band practice, grocery store.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Launchpad Engineer

Happy Fathers Day to my friend P. who works at the U where I work and who is an amazing launchpad engineer. P and his husband, who is a professor at U., have two children who went to on-campus daycare and school along with my son.

The launchpad engineer is that person in the family unit who ensures that all of the family members get launched daily, and go out to school, jobs, and life—to explore, play, work, and live as best they can. It’s also the launchpad engineer’s job to help ensure that the landing pad is equipped with sustenance and support when all of the family rockets splash down after their daily adventures. Being the family launchpad engineer is a huge job, and a competent launchpad engineer is a wonderful person to have in a family.

Every family does it differently. In many families, there is a single launchpad engineer who does the whole job with little assistance.  A family can have more than one launchpad engineer. In some families, the job is done by co-engineers who work very well together.  In others there is one person who does the morning launch, and the other preps the landing pad. Families with resources can hire additional personnel to help with launch and landing and all of the other jobs that go along with launchpad engineer. All families go through times when the rockets are all doing great; at other times one or more rockets fail to launch and/or the launchpad itself is in need of repairs. When you start to look at the different ways that families man their launchpads, you may notice that some are more effective than others. Many are inconsistent—sometimes working well; other times not so much.

The one thing that will tell you almost everything that you need to know about my own family’s launchpad is that each of the two adults are convinced that they are the chief launchpad engineer. We both gratefully acknowledge the important assistant engineering role performed by the other. (But I am the real one.)

In many families, the launchpad engineer also has their own rocket to launch. This is often required by economics, sometimes by choice and usually a combination of the two and other reasons too. Sometimes the launchpad engineer job takes a temporary or permanent backseat to the LE’s own rocket. In the Museum of Competence, there should be a large exhibit dedicated to great family launchpad engineers who also do amazing things with their own rockets on a daily basis.

So when I read articles or hear people stating things like
It's better for launchpad engineers not to have their own rockets.
Being a launchpad engineer alone is not enough everyone should have their own rocket too.
Women are biologically predisposed to be better launchpad engineers than men are.
Launchpad engineers are at a disadvantage in math and science intensive fields.
or even 
Wow! I am so lucky to have such an amazing launchpad engineer at home! I  know I'm just not smart enough to do that job! It's a good thing that I'm a science professor instead!

--I think what an assortment of garbage stinky with festering baloney.

Launchpad engineers are individuals, often women, and there is great variation, but don’t forget that our society benefits greatly from its collective unpaid launchpad engineers. Instead of putting down and isolating the launchpad engineers, we—as individuals and society--should be investing our energies to provide support for all of our launchpad engineers so that families can thrive and all of us are able to launch their own rockets to explore as we wish, when we wish.

Our own launchpad is messy and a bit disorganized, but we all land home at the end, share a good meal, trade reports of our days’ adventures, and cry and laugh.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Gender Bias

My department is blissfully free of bias, as I have been informed in recent days by many of its members. The fact that I think it’s almost cute how proud they are of themselves tells you how much I like most of my colleagues.

We can all count that there is one woman out of 25 tenured faculty members in our department, so we definitely recognize that we have a bad case of gender disparity. Most of us think it's a problem. But that's about the extent of our collective sophistication on the subject.

 What we need is a good map and an experienced guide to help us think through why it is like it is, point us in the right direction for solutions, and find a way that we can discuss these issues without feeling as if we are walking on eggshells with each other (i.e. me), and implement solutions.   

 Lack of diversity/gender discrepancy is a big problem, not only in academic physical sciences & engineering, but also at the tops of corporations, law firms, etc. What are the origins of gender discrepancies? is a big unsolved question because the reasons are complicated and multivariate and involve people. For example, three of the many explanations for gender discrepancies that have been floating around recently include:

            Gender differences in statistical behavior at the extremes (A "bell-curve"-type argument that I think was actually the core of Larry Summers "intrinsic aptitude" argument)

Here’s one of my question as a scientist:
Are these (and the many other) factors competing hypotheses for an issue that likely has a single, overriding cause (Occam’s Razor)? Or do many factors come together in complex ways that result in a single outcome of inequity?

And here's my question as an engineer:
What do we do about it?

One of our goals as members of a department and university is to make decisions based on data and not bias. So I think it is worthwhile to check out some of the research done on bias in decision making. The goal isn’t to purge ourselves of our schemas, or to claim that bias doesn’t exist. Ideally, some of us will occasionally succeed in recognizing our own biases-in-action, and either self-correct or even call it out for the rest of us to acknowledge and/or discuss. I think it’s worth facing the idea squarely—as trained critical thinkers—especially if it results in a better and more diverse department/ university.
Here are some more resources:

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


I recently celebrated my 5000th meal.
I am pleased with my achievements and trajectory as a cook. I aim to feel the same way about my life as a scientist: my teaching, research, writing. My job as a professor and as cook are similar in their combination of technique, practice, skill, experience, balance of perspiration and inspiration.
Here is what I can learn from my life as a cook that I can apply to my life as a scientist:
Cooking is a habit: I cook most days
I am product oriented: I put the product on the table and serve it as-is. Always a “ta-da!” never with apology.
My attitude is healthy: I spend almost no emotional energy on expectations before the meal nor post-mortem analysis afterwards.
Meals run the gamut from workaday to simply good to superlative to triumphant. The least successful ones I accept as natural part of the variation, and do not erode at my self-confidence.
After successful meals, I congratulate myself aloud at the dinner table. This is followed by Mom—stop bragging. Really? Why not? I take it as my parental duty to acclimatize my son to the swagger of women.
I have cried twice over cooking (discounting onions & shallots which make me bawl). In 1990, I made a spinach sauce that oxidized and my date called it “monkey vomit”. In 2011 I was cooking for neighbors and had marinated small pieces of meat all day and the whole meal dropped to the fire through the grill grating.
In the end, the meal is evaluated without self-judgment. I am analytical: what worked? What didn’t? What's next? Never: I should have done it better, what do my colleagues think about me. No. Not even a little bit.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Single-Minded Focus

I have decided to live out my fantasy and become single-mindedly focused only on doing my science work. Here is my first-day diary.

7am: Sunday morning: I pop out of bed. Today is the day I start focusing only on my science! And the timing couldn’t be better, since I have a proposal due in three weeks! I’m so excited!

7:15 am: Coffee

9:00 am: I am walking with my friend P., catching up on a week’s worth of our lives. In the time before single-minded-focus, we had a weekly walking date for exercise and companionship and in-depth hashing of family, work, life. Will need to evaluate whether this adds or detracts from my science-focused life. Note to self: P is not a scientist.

10:00 am: Look at me! I am at my desk working on a Sunday!
10:15 am: Very hungry. Note to self: stock lab fridge with lots of healthy goodies!
10:30 am: Awesome! I am working again.
11:00 am: Losing focus.
11:30 am: I make longitudinal plans for all of my projects. I am overwhelmed by too many projects.  I clearly have not yet broken these down into small-enough tasks.

2:00 pm. Brain travels far and wide, untethered to the work at hand.

3:00 pm. Optimism has been fully replaced by dejection. Time to come home.

5:00 pm. Concoct a large bloody mary; sit on the back patio with the computer.

6:00 pm. Family starts pestering me about dinner and asks what am I making? Note to self: need to apprise the rest of the family about my new focus only on work.

6:30 pm. Muscle memory takes over completely as I defrost shrimp and butter for scampi, put up multigrain porridge in the rice cooker, and slice vegetables for the stir-fry. My brain is concentrating again and it feels good. But it’s not concentrating on thermodynamics, it’s thinking about not slicing its fingers.

8:00 pm: I would get back to work, if I weren’t so tired. And family movie night is so much more fun… 

10:00 pm: I will try again tomorrow

Sunday, June 10, 2012


Professor Eminent in our department retired recently and we threw a big party. He stood on a podium amidst photos depicting years in science, hanging balloons and ribbons, champagne, cake, and a swarm of colleagues from grad students to emeriti and explained that his retirement won’t really be a retirement because he has no other outside interests nor hobbies (besides his science). And among the thanks he gave to people, he cited his wife for taking care of all of his needs so he could focus exclusively on doing his science.

Ah. Living my life defined by single-minded focus and dedication to doing science is one of the top hits on my own fantasy rotation. So I was definitely envious yet simultaneously thankful for my own messy but rich existence juggling my job as an associate professor in the physical sciences,  a two-career household, a quickly growing kid,  a huge array of family, friends, adults, children, life in a big complicated city,  running a lab, funding research, teaching, service, colleagues, mistake-based learning, and yes: doing science.

 And I knew it was time to write about it, in a public way.

By the time I was in elementary school I knew in the way that I knew I was left-handed that I am a scientist. As an adult on my way to middle-aged I am increasingly fascinated by the fact that science is done by people—the same highly flawed, too-human characters that enrich the good books, theater, art, dance, music that make me bawl yet also fill me up from the inside because I am reminded that I am human like that too.

This blog is my attempt to explore the cross derivatives that define the state of my life:  ideas and the people who work with them. Science and the process of doing it. The macroscopic state and the mechanisms that govern changes. Equilibrium and kinetics. Temperature, pressure, and all sorts of potentials (electricity and magnetism, anyone?). I will also explore boundaries and interfaces, at depth.

That paragraph has now merged completely into the subject matter of the proposal I’m working on, so I’m off to work on that.