• Who am I?

    I am Qrystal; or at least, that's my dot-name! Har har. (My name is really Crystal, but that's not as internet-searchable; hence, switching the C for the little-used letter Q.)

    I am here because I enjoy writing. I do this mostly for myself, but I also have a passion for helping others learn things from the things I write. Now that I am done my Ph.D. in Physics, I am stepping away from academic research so that I can indulge in some creative ways to share my knowledge and inspire the appreciation of scientific thinking in others. I am also working as a tutor, which is one of the jobs I've most enjoyed doing in my life so far.

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    About Physicists

    Monday, August 30th, 2010

    Physicists spend a large part of their lives in a state of confusion. It’s an occupational hazard. To excel in physics is to embrace doubt while walking the winding road to clarity. The tantalizing discomfort of perplexity is what inspires otherwise ordinary men and women to extraordinary feats of ingenuity and creativity; nothing quite focuses [...]

    Passive Voice versus ‘We’ in my thesis

    Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

    I was contemplating the problem of the “royal we” versus the use of passive voice in my thesis, and it sparked the following ideastorm on twitter…

    Challenge level versus skill level

    Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

    This is a diagram of mental states, as developed by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, showing how challenge level and skill level contribute to various mental states.  I found it when looking up Anxiety, something I am trying to understand in myself.

    Date and Time Notation

    Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

    Please consider the 12h time to be a relic from the dark ages when Roman numerals were used, the number zero had not yet been invented and analog clocks were the only known form of displaying a time. Please avoid using it today, especially in technical applications! I took a moment to research a little [...]

    Logical Quotation Style

    Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

    It is counter-intuitive … to mutilate literal strings with characters that don’t belong in them. — Some #funwithgrammar from a guide to hackers’ writing style, which describes how some quirks are for the sake of humour but others are for the sake of clarity. Here, we are exploring an aspect of writing style that is [...]

    Relativity and its non-paradoxes

    Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

    The Clock Paradox illustrates how relativity theory does indeed contain inconsistencies that make it scientifically problematic. So says Dr Peter Hayes, a senior lecturer in politics (yes, politics), as quoted in an article at Science Centric entitled “Has Einstein failed physics?” I am getting really sick and tired of people trying to bring down Einstein. [...]

    My Teaching Philosophy

    Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

    I prepared this writeup for my teaching portfolio, which I needed to submit along with a nomination I was honoured to receive for a GA/TA Award for Educational Practice. Also in this package, I had to include letters from students willing to support my nomination, and the ones who did were motivational almost beyond words. [...]

    Answering Questions as a Teaching Assistant

    Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

    The following questions and answers are from a course called Physics and Society, offered at the University of Windsor. I am the teaching assistant for the course, and as such I answer the students’ questions on a private online discussion board. The current unit covers the basics of electromagnetism and relativity, and I have included [...]

    Boldly trying to explain spacetime

    Friday, February 20th, 2009

    There seems to be some confusion [among the students in my Physics and Society class] about spacetime, which is completely understandable because it’s difficult to visualize. I’m going to review some of the main ideas of it here, hopefully clearing up some confusion along the way. The main quote many people gave in their summaries [...]


    Monday, February 16th, 2009

    The first law of awesomedynamics would be the conservation of awesome… via @phil.gs One particularly amusing day in the twitterverse, the word awesomedynamics emerged from somewhere in the vicinity of Wil Wheaton. Phil’s quote, above, caught my attention because it begged the question: what are the rest of the laws of awesomedynamics?! I set out [...]

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