### Chatting with Owen

When I'm on the road I like to video chat with the family. However, when Owen gets online, he really likes to do math puzzles via text. Here's a recent conversation I had with him while I was at a conference in Barcelona (rough life, huh?):

6:00 PM me (John): Suzie is 4 and a half feet tall. How many inches tall is she?
6:02 PM Erin (Owen): 56
me: close, but incorrect
6:03 PM
Erin54
6:04 PM me: Correct!
Erin: my turn 56-45+98
6:05 PM me: 109
6:06 PM Erin: si
6:07 PM me: Next problem: 1 = 0001
2 = 0010
3 = 0011
4 = 0100
5 = 0101
6 = ?
6:09 PM Erin: 0110?!
6:10 PM me: YES!!!!
7 = ?
Erin: 0111
me: wow
correct!
8 = ?
6:14 PM Erin: ya there?
6:15 PM owen has an answer for you
0200
me: ok
ooooh, close
hint: there are no 2's, just 0's and 1's
6:16 PM Erin: he's thinking in the other room

6:19 PM Erin: 1000

Scary.

mama mia said…
unbelievable ability to recognize and extend pattern! I know I am biased as nonna, but wow indeed!
Awesome!!!

### An annual note to all the (NSF) haters

It's that time of year again: students have recently been notified about whether they received the prestigious NSF Graduate Student Research Fellowship. Known in the STEM community as "The NSF," the fellowship provides a student with three years of graduate school tuition and stipend, with the latter typically 5-10% above the standard institutional support for first- and second-year students. It's a sweet deal, and a real accellerant for young students to get their research career humming along smoothly because they don't need to restrict themselves to only advisors who have funding: the students fund themselves!
This is also the time of year that many a white dude executes what I call the "academic soccer flop." It looks kinda like this:

It typically sounds like this: "Congrats! Of course it's easier for you to win the NSF because you're, you know, the right demographic." Or worse: "She only won because she's Hispanic."…