Bob and I ran into each other at a colloqium yesterday. One of my fellow graduate student's father was in town, and he gave a talk on his research. I cannot imagine what it would be like to have a parent and a sibling (her brother is also a grad student in our department) who study the same thing I do. I think it would intimidating, but also, I wonder just how much better I would be if I had a parent who studied theoretical mathematics. It might have turned me off the subject completely, as in the case of my PhD advisor Dr. C and his children, as in the case of Bob and his daughter, who incidentally could've been an honest-to-God ballerina.
While I loaded a tiny plate with fruit, cheese, and carrots, Bob munched on broccoli and told me that his sister was in the hospital. "She's saying just the most ridiculous things. It's totally out of character for her." Their family has no history of demensia, and the hospital is running all sorts of blood tests, but Bob had another theory. "Our neighbor gets like that when she's dehydrated."
Blink, blink. "Dehydrated?" I asked.
"Yeah." Bob twirled his broccoli, furrowed his brow, and then smiled at me. "Weird, huh?"
"So what, do you say, 'You're off today. I think you should have a gallon of water'?"
He laughed. "It couldn't hurt."
As we made our way from the lounge into the room for the talk, I said that I would be good and not eat any more cheese, that I had more than my ration for the day, and Bob said, "Well, you can have more vegetables."
"Yes, but I want cheese," I whined.
"That reminds me," he said as we stopped outside the room and waited for the class meeting in there to leave. "A study was recently done where people were shown a photograph of a hamburger and fries and asked to estimate how many calories where in the meal. Then, the same people were given a picture of a hamburger and fries with a side of fresh broccoli or lettuce and asked to guess again. They guessed a lower number of calories for the second meal."
Blink, blink. "Even though they had already guessed on the burger and fries, and there was now more food?" Bob nodded. "What, like vegetables have negative calories?"
"Apparently." He chuckled. "Isn't it amazing - the things people think when they aren't really thinking?"