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Science and ballet DO mix!

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For all those who struggle with either having to think they have to choose between being a scientist and being a ballet dancer please read this.

For those of us who think you can't do both, please read this.


It was in Nature 15 June 2006

"A week after finishing her dissertation on the formation of the moon, Robin Canup danced the lead in Coppelia with the Boulder Ballet. “At the time, it felt like I had a wonderfully full and busy life,” she says, “but I can’t believe now I did it all.” Canup, 35, stopped dancing professionally five years ago. “By that age you’re an old dancer but a young scientist,” she says. Still, there’s an unexpected harmony to her career: Now she studies how moons glide around planets in space. "

Canup spends her days tweaking computer code and watching colored particles spin on cue. For her moon simulations, she creates an Earth and a protoplanet, and gives each a specific mass, velocity, temperature and other characteristics. Then she programs a collision and sits back to watch the show. The math is so complex, it takes a 2GHz processor a week to compute each scenario. Recently, by running a simulation backward, Canup found that most of the moon probably came not from the Earth but from a specific area on the protoplanet that hit it. Her next step is to add “particle splitting”: Partway through a simulation, she’ll program it to ignore humdrum information (say, the particles at Earth’s core) and focus on the interesting stuff (particles that might clump together as the moon). "


So there you go!! I would love to ask her how on earth she managed both! But isn't it wonderful to read stories like this?


I think maybe even parents of children who are gifted at both science and ballet may want to read this?



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:D:wub::blink: from a chemistry and biology major, aspiring doctor, and dancer wannabe :thumbsup::D:D I'm still trying to find that balance between school - my priority and my future - and the arts, without which I cannot live.


Nerdy scientists can too be dancers!

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I did that. For the last four years of my PhD, I danced full-time --- first as an apprentice, and for the last two years as a full professional in the company. How did I do it? I don't know, it was very very crazy and I had no life, and I worked VERY hard.


Another of our apprentices just finished undergrad. I don't know how she did it, but she managed to dance pretty full-time even while taking a full courseload at a highly demanding prestigious technical institute. I just hoped she wasn't going to flunk out.

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I wasn’t dancing while in grad school, but was competing in a sport at a high level. Actually, I have to say that I didn’t find doing both that difficult, and it certainly wasn’t because I was that smart or talented. Essentially, I treated school as a full-time, 8-5 job and trained outside of that time. During vacations and other time off I kept the same schedule. Even had a halfway reasonable social life. I think it was, for me anyway, a matter of scheduling and organization and being rigid in keeping to that.

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I am glad to have read this.

My daughters are interested in both science and dance, specifically ballet, so they also face the "choice" sooner or later. (sooner for the elder, later for the younger) It is good to hear that there really are those who have done both and survived. Thanks.



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Well... the answer isn't so simple. It's possible to be a student of science or dance or both. But I have seen no cases of a continuing career as a scientist AND dancer. Both professions ask a lot from their participants, a kind of lifelong commitment.


You can do one, then the other, in various arrangements. But you can't do both at once. Canup considers herself an ex-professional dancer, she's making a transition to a career in science. I pursued a dance career while I still had time, as a graduate student; if I were not already trained now, I simply would not have the time to get the training. Vorberger studied science as an undergraduate, but pursued dance-related fields for her Master's degree.

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Well... the answer isn't so simple. It's possible to be a student of science or dance or both. But I have seen no cases of a continuing career as a scientist AND dancer.


Well, I do :wink: Conducting a scientific study in ballet. And there are more and more degrees in dance science popping up.... :rolleyes:

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And then there are people who do both show business AND science! During WWII, Hedy LaMarr(!) developed a method in conjunction with composer George Antheil for encrypted radio signals. They had intended it for use in radio-controlled torpedos, but the Navy never picked up on it. Today, it is part of the foundation of one of the defense communication systems which uses shifting frequencies to prevent radio communication from being intercepted by other than the intended recipient. Pretty good work, I'd say!

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