Thursday, February 9, 2012

King Cakes, Elevators, and More Questions!

On King Cake...

One of the great things about living in Louisiana between between the Epiphany and Mardi Gras is a wonderful sweet called King Cake.  Before I moved here, I'd never heard of it (although I did see something about it on the Food Network shortly after I moved here).  If you've never heard of it, let me tell you a little about it.

King Cake (from Wikipedia)

First, King Cake isn't a cake at all.  It is more like a very large cinnamon roll.  Instead of cutting individual rolls from a log of dough swirled with cinnamon, the log is turned back onto itself to make a circle (anywhere from about a foot in diameter to as large as the baker can handle).  Once the "cake" is baked, it is covered with icing (anything from a doughnut glaze type of icing to a cream cheese icing) and then covered in colored sugar, usually in the Mardi Gras colors of purple, yellow, and green.  Inside (or underneath) the cake somewhere is a trinket, usually a plastic baby.  Whoever gets the baby gets some sort of priviledge (in Mardi Gras tradition, the person who got the baby literally was the king for whatever their Mardi Gras celebration was).

Here at LIGO, King Cakes can usually be found in our kitchens (there is a full kitchen in the main observatory building and a kitchenette in the building across the street that houses the Science Education Center and other things - like my office).  If you get the baby, you get to buy the next King Cake.  But I've been noticing that there has been a shortage of King Cake in the kitchenette in the building were my office is!  Where has all the King Cake gone?


I have come up with a plan to increase the King Cake near my office.  Over the years, I have collected my own little orphanage of plastic babies.  This one has been living in my desk for a long while now (I almost decapitated this little fella when I cut into his cake):


I plan on seeding the kitchenette with a King Cake and stuffing it full of babies!  Mwa-ha-ha!!!  Today, 1 King Cake...  Tomorrow, MANY King Cakes!!!

Well, since I am writing about it in by blog I'm not really going to do this, but it was a thought. ;)

On Elevators...

One of the questions I get from students visiting LIGO is, "Wow!  You must be a genius!"  Not hardly.  I wasn't always a good student and even once I was, I always had a struggle to be the good student I wanted to be.  My elevator story below proves my "not a genius" claim.

I got on the elevator this morning (they are painting the exterior stairs so they are temporarily off limits).  I have been in this elevator many times before, but today I stop and look at the control panel:


This elevator only goes between 2 floors and yet there is a button for each floor.  Wouldn't it make sense just to have a single button that took you to the "other" floor?  Really, if I am on the first floor and just entered the elevator, where else would I want to go.  While I am having these deep thoughts, the door closes and after about a minute or so I am standing there wondering why the elevator isn't moving.  It turns out that pushing any button is a good start but that was a mental leap I simply didn't make.  (Of course, I did eventually push 2 and it delivered me there directly.)  At least I was alone in a elevator so no one knows the depths my brilliance can plunge (except for you and I am sure you won't tell anyone, right?). 

More Questions Please! 

So, I am starting to run out of questions from you, my wonderful readers!  Please send me more!!!  (In the comments below or on Twitter to @livingligo.)  However, I have figured out a "sneaky" way to start digging up those questions you are wondering about but never asked.  You tend to Google them and you may end up on my site.  When this happens, the terms you Googled show up in my statistics for how people found my blog.  Here are some of the questions I have found this way:

Starting next week, I will begin answering these questions (and the few that I have left over from the last time I made a call for questions).  Please ask me more!  If you are a teacher and you have students who may have questions, please have them ask (or you can for them).

I look forward to hearing from you!


@Astroguyz asked:
  • Where do you see gravity wave/astronomy & physics a decade from now? 
  • Are there really Vegas odds on GW detection?  Answered on 23 February 2012