Everything I learned as a Physicist, Q.E.D.

Posted on Sep 08, 2009. 10 comments

The first rule of physics I learned was "Don't leave the lens cap on the 14 inch telescope and search fruitlessly for stellar objects for three hours in the freezing cold in the middle of the night." The corollary was "Pretend to laugh when your Professor posts cartoon imagery of buffoons forgetting the lens cap in a location where all the other students congregate. Give them patented looks of death when they cackle with your Professor."
The second rule of physics I learned was carry a small phillips head screwdriver with you enough and one day a mechanical opportunity to use just such a screwdriver will appear and you will redeem yourself in the eyes of those punks who made lame lens cap jokes for 6 months. Ignore the urge to poke fellow students with screwdriver in triumphant glory.
The third thing I learned was about using that hubris generating phrase, quod erat demonstrandum. It loosely translates to "Fools: look what I have shown using my wit, some ducktape, and a few sticks and bow before me and kiss my ring. Or admire my middle finger." When I first learned about the concept of QED I was hellbent on using it quickly and with as much pomp as possible. One lucky test day I found the perfect question for my new found brilliance. I carefully laid out my proof in quadrants, barely glancing over my work because I was impatient to gleefully scratch in those hallowed letters among the chicken scrawl of my test paper. I slapped them down with authority and (what I thought was) dazzling ability.
The day we got our test scores back I sat up straight in my chair, proudly awaiting the return of my first (and last) use of QED in any physics class. I got the paper back, and rifled through the pages of math to find the results of my perfect proof. Of course I was off by a minus sign. And this was the same professor as mentioned in rule 1.
I was pondering all these rules and how I'm learning new rules for knitting design when I was spinning up this Spunky Eclectic Superwash Corriedale. The color sequence brought back some memories of my internship and THE VERY IMPORTANT RULE I LEARNED. (Second only to never use QED unless you are doubly, triply, quadruply certain that you are right and even then it's probably not the greatest idea).
rgb niddy noddy
The simple rule had to do with the representation of graphical data, if you have three items represent them as red, green, and blue (or rgb for short) and if you have multiple graphs they must all have the same axis values. It was a rule that served me well except for the inevitable times when I had 7 data streams with that one or four pesky outlier data points. At that point you throw in cyan, magenta, black, and yellow in whatever coordinate system suits you and hope for the best (cymk linky for those curious) and hope to retain your pride; well as much as you have left after a hearty education in physics that is.
365_57 The Thinking Mom
What does this have to do with knitting? Not much really but I'm learning so much about having my own business that I feel a lot like I did my first summer of hard work as a physics intern only with less telescope lens caps and more phillips head screwdrivers. And potentially less QED and I hope a lot more humility and laughter.
For those whose eyes crossed at the above please enjoy the photos below.
beach walk
I'm feeling a little sad that summer is coming to an end but I'll happily say sayonara to those 100+F/40C temps and welcome back cooler (fire free) weather.
365_58 new shawl design
A new shawl design to be knit in Knit Picks Shadow. I've recently discovered Knit Picks offers superb yarn support for indie designers (without any minus signs or lens caps but plenty of phillips head screwdrivers), QED.


  • Posted by stephanie on Sep 12, 2009

    you rock.

  • Posted by AlisonH on Sep 13, 2009

    Another reason to love my little bad-picture point-and-shoot… I have left the lens cap on on my hubby’s camera before, oh, definitely! Thanks for the laugh! (No, no patented looks of death, not that!)

  • Posted by Carrie K on Sep 08, 2009

    I think, therefore I am. Q.E.D. (crosses fingers.)

  • Posted by mindy on Sep 08, 2009

    Pretty pictures. I don’t think I had enough coffee to comprehend anything you said. I don’t think there is enough coffee in the world for me…

  • Posted by Mildawg on Sep 11, 2009

    A good post to read :)

  • Posted by Heidi on Sep 08, 2009

    I think you are a pretty amazing lady, michelle.

  • Posted by marri on Sep 08, 2009

    i’m envious of you. in all ways.

  • Posted by Jennifer on Sep 08, 2009

    Okay, my eyes are crossed and I took 12 credits of physics! You’ve got to tell me how you get your colors lined up so nicely. I figured out last night that it isn’t my plying that sucks as much as it is my spinning. The whole damned thing is barberpoled so it looks doubly horrible when plyed.

  • Posted by Michelle on Sep 08, 2009

    The fiber was dyed only three colors, one block of red, one block of green, and one block of blue. The colors were sequential instead of space dyed. What I did was tear the length of the fiber in half, spun each into singles and then wound into balls (mainly because I don’t like using a kate). Then I made sure to start plying holding both green ends together and plied til I ran out of yarn. Have you tried chain plying? That would preserve the colors as you spin them

  • Posted by Michelle on Sep 08, 2009

    And another thing! Except for the case above I don’t pre-draft. I tear off hand sized chunks from the entire top or roving and spin til it’s all gone and then get another chunk. It just so happens that method tends to make long color repeats. Do you have the Intentional Spinner by JMM? It’s my favorite spinning book.

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