There be Dragons (& Voorwerps)

There be Dragons (& Voorwerps)

It’s 2 weeks to Dragon*Con and I’m going a bit insane. As I mentioned in my last post, a group of us are getting ready to launch a comic book at Dragon*Con. As I’ve twittered, there is a fundraiser for cancer research the night before Dragon*Con. What I haven’t mentioned is after a summer hiatus, Astronomy Cast is coming back full force and my non-profit, Astrosphere New Media Association, is launching a store selling all sorts of science goodies. Trying to pull all this stuff together has been, um, challenging. But we’re getting there. And I’m hoping you’ll be there as we bring everything to fruition. Consider this your formal invite to all of the following: Watch the Stars – Light the Night [buy tickets here]...

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A scientific mind is a terrible thing to waste

A scientific mind is a terrible thing to waste

I haven’t been doing a lot of writing lately. I generally just make the excuses, “I’ve been busy” or say “I don’t make money on my blog and need to focus on paid jobs.” These are just excuses though. I can always find time to write. The truth is, I just can’t find it in me to write positively about science and academia when I look around and see so many things that hurt. This has been a rough year for our community. Colleges in California and Arizona have been shutting down a few days a month here and there (euphemistically referred to as furloughing staff). In the UK, 25% of the fellowships and student grants for PhD students and PostDocs are being removed. Everywhere, universities have cut journal subscriptions,...

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Emerging Fields: Astronomy Communications and Education

Emerging Fields: Astronomy Communications and Education

When I started graduate school, I was given the impression that astronomy consisted of two broad formats (observational and theoretical) and addressed a set of specific subtopics (planets, stars, intersteller media, galaxies/cosmology). In this paradigm, people who studied how people learn astronomy were off to the side somewhere. In broad brush strokes, this is a fairly fair image. While there is a rich and dynamic group of people working to both teach astronomy and communicate astronomy to the public, these people are generally side-lined, devalued, or just not seen as professional astronomers. Today, in South Africa, the “Communicating Astronomy to the Public” meeting is seeking to change this view by bringing a new level of professionalism to our...

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An academic life punctuated by bullets, part 2

An academic life punctuated by bullets, part 2

There are some titles that should never be reused. This is part 2 of this post I wrote in 2007. This older post is better than this one. Please read the older post here. Earlier this evening I got an IM from a friend alerting me that this afternoon there had been a shooting at the University of Alabama Huntsville. Details are sketchy, but it looks like a faculty member who was recently denied tenure went into the biology faculty meeting and shot 6 people, killing 3 of the 6. On twitter I’ve seen people express mystification at how this could happen. Like I said a few years ago, about another school shooting, what really surprises me is how rarely it happens. Academia as a system is deeply flawed in a lot of ways. One of the ways it is flawed is how the...

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Galileoscope: A dream of 1 Telescope Per Child

Galileoscope: A dream of 1 Telescope Per Child

I know a set of men who had a dream. They wanted to see every child in the world have access to a high-quality low-cost telescope. They wanted something that would show the rings of Saturn, survive a tumble down the stairs, and just keep revealing the sky night after night after night. This is a good dream; a dream inspired by the one laptop per child project. It is a dream that could be a reality, but it needs help. These men need you to dream with them and help their dream become a reality. The Concept is Born The Galileoscope project was launched about the time everyone realized the 2009 International Year of Astronomy idea was about to become a UN endorsed reality. Lead by Doug Arion, Rick Fienberg, and Steve Pompea, the Galileoscope telescope team gave...

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You must have Power to Stop Discrimination

You must have Power to Stop Discrimination

This is a piece on gender inequity and sexual discrimination (not sexual harassment, which is a different and emotionally more devastating thing). I´m writing this at this time not because of any one thing that´s happened, but because of a culmination of things. Sometimes it just seems like a topic is in the air, building momentum, and this topic has finally found a voice in me. This post had three different triggers. The first was a bad moment I had last semester, when I found out a student in my Physics for Engineers class was making sexually harassing comments on a regular basis. The second trigger came from confronting numbers and statistics on women in physics and astronomy for a pair of talks at Dragon*Con. And the third trigger was this little gem posted...

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