Looking for inspiration

Looking for inspiration

I have to admit, life has gotten sufficiently busy that I’ve lost all track of time and place. Yesterday, waking up in Austin for SXSW Interactive, I was reminded by the intertubes that it is Women’s Month, and yesterday (not today) was International Women’s Day. Scott Lewis (KnowTheCosmos) interviewed Nicole Gugliucci and I about what inspired us and will be posting the video soon. This experience, and a recent talk that I gave at the Midwest Regional Women in Physics Conference, made me take a minute and really reflect on who has inspired me over the years. For most people my age, there is only one answer: Carl Sagan. For people in their 30s and older, he was the man of science that filled their heads while he filled their small screens. The...

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Tweeting from an Asteroid

Tweeting from an Asteroid

Disclaimer:  I am not the human behind the @AsteroidMappers feed. I have the password, but so does everyone else working on CosmoQuest, and I know that since AsteroidMappers launched Saturday, I’ve been way too busy to tweet from that account. I haven’t tried to sort which (or which combo) or 3 possible people wrote these @AsteroidMappers tweets, and in a way I don’t want to know because that will erase the magic. All I know is that if you aren’t following this account you may not have giggled as much as I did this...

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Developing a better world, one astronomy lesson at a time

Developing a better world, one astronomy lesson at a time

Earlier today I realized I was one day off. I showed up for a meeting on communicating astronomy to the public and found myself in a meeting on generating more accurate world coordinate systems for sky surveys. While astrometry is important, it is something that I wasn’t interested in helping advance prior to lunch. Thus, I fled. In fleeing, I found myself in a session on how to use astronomy to develop the developing world. I sat my privileged white self down and pulled out my iPad and listened as delegates from nations as far ranging as Mozambique, Mexico, Nepal, and the Philippines presented talk after talk on how they are building a more educated future for our globe by building astronomy learning and capacity. I was sufficiently sucked in that I...

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Pink Tasks (post 2/2)

In yesterday’s women in science lunch, we ended with this question: Why do so many women remain silent about all the day-to-day micro-inequities and minor discriminations and injustices they deal with. Ignoring the obvious (it’s really hard to report someone for a million small things that can be blamed on “Oh, he was just in a bad mood), there are also many other reasons to remain silent. I long ago recognized that institutional bias against women – a bias that is often unconscious and unintentional – is something that is almost universal. Some institutions, when they recognize there is a problem, respond by working to positively change the institution. This occurred at MIT when it was realized that women were systematically given less...

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Pink Tasks (post 1 of 2)

In general, I’m not someone who is an activist feminist. My focus has always been on science research and education, but sometimes gender issues can’t be ignored. If you saw my talk from TAM2012, you know that for better or (more likely) for worse, the issues faced by women in science and skepticism have been a lot on my mind lately. I’m not the only one who’s been thinking about this a lot. Here at the IAU meeting, several activities have been designed around generating dialogue about women’s issues and helping to provide mentoring and networking opportunities for the women who are here. During the “Women in Science” lunch, we all sat down with our bento boxes and found our conversation shaped by a pamphlet of statistics...

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IAU, I’m lost within you

IAU, I’m lost within you

This morning I woke up in Beijing. This wasn’t entirely surprising since I’d fallen asleep at about 32,000 ft on AA187, inbound to PEK from ORD. Nonetheless, no matter how much you know logically that you are soon to be somewhere very foreign, the reality of it is always startling. Beijing assaults the senses the moment the cabin door opens. There is the smell; air so thick with pollution that you feel constantly dirty, and my nose runs and lungs ache. There is the sudden change in personal space, which grows far less, and politeness, which becomes far more important. The buildings are like something out of the Fifth Element, but the roads are cluttered with an odd mix of foot traffic, bike traffic, rickshaw traffic, and insane car traffic. Beijing is...

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