Fighting Funding Cuts & Sequestration

Fighting Funding Cuts & Sequestration

Disclaimer: I am writing this post as a private individual. The views in this post are strictly my own, and no approval of an outside entity should be assumed. I have spent the past several weeks trying to figure out how to write this post. Sometimes emotions are so raw that they don’t readily shape themselves into words: They manifest themselves as a face that can’t smile, a head that throbs with a stress migraine, and with an exhaustion driven not by lack of sleep but rather deriving from the emotional exhaustion that just makes a person want to hide in a dark room locked away from the world. My head hurts. I am exhausted. My emotions are raw. I am writing now because there is a very real possibility that the proposed restructuring the US education...

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Dark Skies, Dark Internet

Dark Skies, Dark Internet

Looking around the internet today, I’m amazed to see how many people and websites are in their own way protesting SOPA and PIPA. What is most fascinating to me is the reaction people have as the sites they count on day to day blink out. Should SOPA or PIPA actually get passed, we run the risk of having the internet we know and love slowly wink out one site at a time. It would start with a blogger here, a video mashup artist there, starting with the faint voices shining among all the URLS, and as they winked out, folks wouldn’t notice, and by the time the big boys – the Wikipedias and the Reddits – started to get turned off, we’d all be numb to what was going, and just let them wink out as the internet went dark. It’s only...

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CosmoQuest

CosmoQuest

For the past several years, my cohost and friend Fraser Cain has been talking about wanting to change how we do astronomy – change access, change the embargo system, change even peer-review. He’s not the only one: All across the internets we’ve seen open science projects of various types crop up and slowly take root. This summer, I finally let Fraser infect me with the idea of creating a wall free environment for learning and doing science; an online community where people come together to attend astronomy lectures, to participate in star parties, to talk about the science they are working to do in their own backyard, and the science they are working to do in their own web browser. This ideal is what we’re going to try and build with...

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Universal Education

Universal Education

Here in the USA (or I should say there, since I’m currently in France), education tends to be somewhat nationalistic. It has to be. Teachers are tied to state and federal learning standards and if students don’t learn what is specifically listed in those standards, and specifically tested along those standards, schools are considered to have failed. While the national standards were written with the best of intentions to create a more literate population, they have had a stifling effect on creative teachers and creative learning environments. People like me do what we can to get the “fun stuff” (I’m biased toward thinking Astronomy goes in that fun category) into kids outside of school and I think we’re creating some pretty good things. What is amazing to me...

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The End of IYA (Part 2)

The End of IYA (Part 2)

Sometimes it takes a bit longer than planned to get around to writing than expected. The second day of the IYA Closing ceremonies was filled with talks on history & vision – Who was Galileo and what was the real relationship between him and the Chrutch? How do we move forward to celebrate astronomy in years that aren’t 400 year anniversaries? How do we build on what we’ve done so that great new projects aren’t lost? And where does science go tomorrow?- Presented talks included talks from politicians, historians, and scientists. Want to see what we saw? Full video coverage is available here. In the past 400 years since Galileo turned a telescope toward the sky and reported what he was seeing, the technology has come a long ways. From...

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dotAstronomy Day 1: Citizen Science

dotAstronomy Day 1: Citizen Science

Here at dotAstronomy, each day of the conference is dedicated to a different topic: Citizen Science, Web-based Research, Visualization, and Outreach. Each topic is tangled with new media and web 2.0 technologies, and by the end of the week we hope to have made the web a little bit richer to explore. Here on day 1, we’re starting in on what is perhaps the most overarching theme: Citizen Science. At its most fundamental level, citizen science is the act of every day people making contributions to science that produce a new understanding of the topic at hand: this is real research by real people. In astronomy, variable star observations are perhaps the oldest form of citizen science. For almost 100 years the American Association of Variable Star Observers...

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