The science behind Crushing It

Crushing It

Probably one of the biggest hurdles I had in writing this book was the science. Writing it clearly enough that readers could follow along, but not get bogged down by the science, was hard.

I think my favourite science part was the obstacle course ice breaker in the March Break camp. I had a lot of fun planning that out, and I even made the modified version of it that we recorded for the cover reveal video. My eldest and her friend completed it together.

The STEM competition was more difficult, mostly because I had to make it more advanced. I discussed the five different sections with Éric beforehand, finally deciding on optics, electronics, programming (part 1 & 2), construction, and mystery.

A bit of background on me: I have a Bachelor of Science, so I took many many post-secondary science classes. Do I remember them? Not in the slightest.

However, I do remember how to research for them. Mostly.

Éric (a huge science nerd) was a huge help with all of it, but especially the optics and mystery.

My mom (has her masters in computer science) and sister (has her bachelors in a information technology) were invaluable for the programming section. I was able to suggest solutions and they would explain why they would or wouldn’t work. Most of that discussion went into the book.

Overall, I had a lot of fun writing the science of the book, and I hope you have fun and learn a little while reading it. This is not a science book, but I tried to make it as accurate as possible.

Cover art by @pinkpiggy93 on Tumblr and @flowerraven93 on Instagram

Crushing It by Jen Desmarais is available now!

Physical from Canadian indie bookstoresphysical from Indigo, electronic version

Do you live in fear?

Hello Readers,

Let me me start by saying I’m tired. Tired of people being jackasses to each other and then turning around and blaming someone else.

I’ve been accused of living in fear for the past six months. Apparently being afraid of a virus that has killed nearly 3/4 of a million people and following health and safety guidelines is living in fear.

Fear is a natural reaction, it’s an instinct that keeps us alive. Fear isn’t a bad thing. I can hear the embodiment of internet comment sections sections screaming, “BUT IT CONTROLS YOU!” Fear can be used to control, and yes it can go to unhealthy levels, but self isolating, wearing a mask, and avoiding risky behaviour is not unhealthy (it’s the opposite).

Tempting… https://leasticoulddo.com/comic/20200813

I understand that some people have legitimate reasons to not wear a mask, that’s fine and I’ll never challenge someone who isn’t wearing one, but I’ll give them a wide berth. However, if you’re refusing to wear a mask on principle, you are being selfish, inconsiderate, and ridiculous. What’s the worst that happens? You do something in hopes that it’ll benefit others and it doesn’t work?

More recently I’m seeing a lot of memes about how more children are stolen and sold than died of Covid, or how this one kid died because someone shot him but it’s not getting the same media attention.

One travesty doesn’t mean another isn’t important. People can, and do care about more than one thing. It’s unfair and reductive to compare them. Only a fool says “Car accidents kill more people than cancer.” Same applies here.

In an article in Science Mag, they describe the “sheer breadth of complications linked to COVID-19 is mind-boggling“. Over and over again, science has said that this virus is dangerous and I will treat it that way.

Another argument that’s been passing around is that “the flu kills people every year, should we take the same precautions for it?” My answer is yes. Wear a mask during flu season or if you feel sick. If you have a choice, don’t go to work sick. We should be pushing for mandatory sick days.

We as a society need to overcome the foolish notion that taking sick days is a sign of weakness or laziness.

Wear a mask, wash your hands, and be safe,

Éric

Big Bang Theory is Anti-Intellectual

“Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'” Isaac Asimov

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

Intelligence isn’t cool and is actually pretty dumb. That’s what television and movies have been telling me for my entire life. The nerds from Revenge of the Nerds, Screech from Saved by the Bell, Steve Urkel, the characters of Scorpion, most versions of Sherlock Holmes, and the characters from Big Bang Theory. These are just a handful of examples of what I’d call Stupid-Intelligent.

When you get a character that is brilliant in a television show, movie, or book; they are automatically given some sort of crippling character trait or traits. Normally it’s a complete lack of social graces or empathy, paranoia, uncontrolled phobias, arrogance, etc.

Have you ever wondered why this is done?

Writers do this for multiple reasons. The first being that the genius easily replaces the wizard in most modern day, or science fiction, stories. With a wave of their thermoscouplers and reversing the polarity, they can save the world. Because of this they need to give the characters flaws or they’ll be more powerful and interesting than the everyman main character, which would be intimidating to the audience.

The second being comedy. Look at the smart guy who doesn’t know how to throw a football…

Both are lazy writing.

What does it matter?

These cardboard outlines of characters represent two communities; those with great intelligence and those with disorders. It creates an impression that intelligence is a curse and that disorders only affect those that are special. Both are total bullshit and are harmful to the communities involved.

“Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'” Isaac Asimov

How is a show about intelligent people, anti-intellectual?

Big Bang Theory is part of the “Hateful” category of American Sitcoms. That means that the characters are all at some point, for comical effect, going to be ridiculously mean to their friends. Normally the plot will revolve around a misunderstanding, prank, or selfish action. It always ends in the pain of one of the characters.

It doesn’t matter that the show is fact checked, mostly, or that it caters to geeks and nerds; it uses them as the butt of the joke and in the end makes each of the characters come out looking like idiots.

This is an old trope, but one that has become prominent in the past few years. It paints intelligence as an inability to see past your own expertise or to think critically. While trying to humanize the character, they devalue their actual accomplishments.

What’s the point?

When you see Sheldon as unable to work with others, function as an adult, or have healthy relationships; it reflects not just on the character but all scientists.

After decades of being told that nerds are broken, unreasonable, undependable, and egotistical ; is it any surprise that people are having a hard time trusting them?

We are seeing a record number of people believing pseudo-science simply because they don’t trust those who are supposed to be the experts.

Here are a few examples of things people believe because they don’t trust science or experts:

  • The Earth is flat
  • Trump is a successful businessman
  • The Earth is 4000 years old
  • Vaccines cause autism or allergies
  • Vaccines aren’t necessary
  • Theories aren’t proven
  • Evolution isn’t real
  • Climate change isn’t real
  • Genetically Modified Organism or GMO’s are bad for you
  • GMO’s are a recent thing
  • Scientific Fact is the same as opinion

This is a small list of things people believe because they’ve lost respect for the authority of scientists.

Is this The Big Bang Theory’s fault? No, it’s just another example of anti-intellectual, lazy, and harmful writing.

 

Disagree? Let me know in the comments,

Éric

Faith

Oh what a troubling word. Faith can mean many things to many people. At its core it means to believe in something. It’s often associated with religion or spiritual belief.

It’s a beautiful concept, to believe in something but I wonder if it’s that simple. It often seems that devoutly religious person would have the strongest faith and that the non-practicing wouldn’t. I think that’s wrong.

I think faith, as an integral belief which you whole heartedly honour, isn’t only the purview of religion. I think faith, in one form or another, is present in everyone. I’d go as far as saying faith is not only pervasive but essential to a healthy life.

Difference Between Having Faith and Needing Faith

There has to be a distinction made between having faith in something and needing faith in something.

You can have faith in God, Science, or Humanity. There’s a lot more but the point is that you can even have faith in yourself. How you’ve gained this faith or why doesn’t matter. The power of it, is that you have it.

Needing faith, is how you get to your belief. No matter how much you study you’ll always need faith that there is a God. But, if you spend a couple of decades training and testing theories, you can prove evolution through fossil and empirical evidence. You don’t need to have faith in something for it.

I suppose you need to have faith that the scientists that did the work, did it while respecting the scientific method. But you don’t need to have faith in evolution, just in the people who have proven it, over and over again.

The difference is simply in the method. Needing faith is a path to belief. Having faith is the last stop on that path but reaching the last stop can always be done through another path.

Why I think it’s important

I think as human beings we need to have a certain amount of stability in our lives and beyond that we need hope.

Faith, in every form, is about hope and the belief that things are going to be ok. As an example let’s take the afterlife.

Christian religion tells us that we will be judged and either go to heaven or hell (or the in-between places). Science tells us that we will decompose and that our atoms will return to the earth and help spring forth new life. Eventually our world with be destroyed and our atoms will float through space until they are used to create a new planet, sun, or other astral body.

Are both of them true? Who cares, that’s needing faith part. Are they both beautiful? Yes to a certain extent. Heaven can sound down right horrifying to some (That’s a whole other post) while the idea that we’re made of “star-stuff” might seem cold and unfeeling to others.

Having faith isn’t about what other people believe it’s about what you believe and how it make you feel.

My Beliefs (Cause I know you care)

I believe in stories and I believe if humanity. Although it’s not always easy I have faith that humanity is genuinely good.

I believe in being nice to people. I believe that life is a beautiful and magnificent thing that needs to be cherished. I have faith in the power of words, love, and kindness. Most of all, I believe that the pursuit of knowledge should be the goal of our lives.

What are my thoughts on the afterlife? I hope there are further challenges after our bodies stop working. I believe that the consciousness, or soul, must be bound to the laws of physics that say no matter or energy is ever created or destroyed. What it becomes after death is a great mystery to me but I don’t think it disappears completely.

I also believe that you live on in the hearts and minds of your friends and family. And they say the internet never forgets.

If you need to label me, this all means I’m Agnostic. Meaning I’m not sure what to believe but that we should keep trying to find out.

 

What do you have faith in?