You guys know about vampires? … You know, vampires have no reflections in a mirror? There’s this idea that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. And what I’ve always thought isn’t that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. It’s that if you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves. And growing up, I felt like a monster in some ways. I didn’t see myself reflected at all.
My Favorite Poem
If I had to pick a favorite poem, it would be The Great Figure by William Carlos Williams (only just ahead of Bill Watterson’s genius). I’m sure other poems resonate more strongly with me sometimes, but I’ve committed to making The Great Figure my favorite.
Among the rainand lightsI saw the figure 5in goldon a redfiretruckmovingtenseunheededto gong clangssiren howlsand wheels rumblingthrough the dark city.
Am I a real astronomer yet?
I’m currently on my first observing run, commissioning the Gemini Planet Imager at Gemini South Observatory atop Cerro Pachon. In a flurry of firsts and new experiences my nights keep coming back to this question. Ok, am I an astronomer now?
First observing run — am I a real astronomer yet?
A few days of night schedule — am I a real astronomer yet?
First view of the milky way and magellanic clouds and even a very orange moonset — am I a real astronomer yet?
And tonight someone grouped me into “you astronomers.” Does it count yet?
In any case, observing has been one of the most fantastic experiences I’ve had as a graduate student (or even in general as a human being). Whatever I am, I’m happy to be here.
Re: summer school for education and outreach
rabraha3 said: Have you applied to the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics summer school for education and outreach? It looks great
I did hear about the summer school.
If I wasn’t already planned to travel during the second half of the school I think I would sign up in a heartbeat. This sounds really cool and I hope I can do it next summer. How about you?
Now that the younger generation is running our outreach group, I get to play around with a video camera and iMovie. I’m actually really hoping I take this hobby seriously, I think it could be a great thing for our visibility in the community and hopefully a resource for the people we can’t physically reach. Unfortunately it’s one of those hobbies that take BUUTTTloads of time.
Guys work is getting in the way of my artistic creativity.
I’ve been thinking of this one for like at least a year now, like every day when I walk through the park to work. (I’m very paranoid about poison ivy). It just occurred to me the other day that I have a tablet with a stylus and why haven’t I put this down somewhere!? Ok well here it is.
Making Gefilte Fish with Mom
Today is Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. I try to do a little extra remembering and thinking of my family on this day every year. I’m happy that most of my grandparents lived long enough to see me, though my strongest connection to them today is through my parents. I am always looking forward to big holiday gatherings when their stories are told and retold, both the happy and upsetting stories.
About two weeks ago I came home to have the first night of Passover with family and friends of family. The days preceding Passover, I spent time with mom, something that has truly become one of my favorite reasons for coming home (dad too). I sat with her yet another year as she prepared the gefilte fish for the Passover Seder, a tradition in my family, my grandmother’s recipe. We almost went without white fish for the mixture because Lake Michigan was frozen very late into the season! It was a Passover miracle that Michigan thawed in time.
Cooking with my mother (especially during holidays) makes me think about her generation and her parents’ generation. My mom’s generation is one removed from the Holocaust, which in my mind makes for a very peculiar situation. I imagine my parents saw my grandparents, on one hand hoarding, stern, sometimes unreasonable or intolerant, but on the other hand always meaning best for their children. At the end of the day these people were survivors, coming out of terrible tragedy and horror. As for me? I am simply a bystander, an observer, only hearing stories— mostly from my parents and other children of survivors— very few first-hand accounts. I get confused and upset sometimes when I think about my grandparents’ lives. Many of their generation’s behaviors were and are not acceptable in this time, but we forgive them after the atrocities they lived through. We simultaneously try to understand but also not carry on their pain and mistrust.
So here I am two generations displaced; this year I am thinking about cooking grandma’s gefilte fish with mom. And with that floods thoughts of my family’s history and culture— for me, a rush of emotion. This is something I will never forget.
JHU Physics and Astronomy Grads bring space into the classroom. Last month we unveiled our off-the-shelf planetarium to a 5th grade class in downtown Baltimore. Baltimore City Public Schools’ communications put together a really nice story of the days’ events!
"Bringing The Skies To Baltimore" — Great Success.
So for nearly a year a select group of awesome volunteers among the Physics and Astronomy grad students at Hopkins have been putting together a pair of portable planetaria. Last year March we received a grant to embark on this project. Just 5 days ago we culminated the grant with a big unveiling event at the Southwest Baltimore Charter School. Every year their 5th grade class spends a month or two studying space. Last year we were invited to spend a couple class periods with 5th grade doing some space and astronomy demos. The students had some time during and after the demos to pick our brains and they has some astute and insightful questions for us. We were searching for an excuse to come back when we heard about the Ignite Baltimore grant (see our project update about 4 minutes in at the last Ignite).
With our grant we build two planetaria, a 12.5-ft one that we can put up during our department’s annual physics fair and take around to schools, and a 9-ft one to deliver to SBCS that they could keep and use as their own astronomy classroom. On Wednesday we delivered the planetarium and set up a half day of fun activities for the kids.
The snow started overnight, but luckily with barely an inch on the ground, school was still on schedule and we went ahead with our plan. We packed away stacks of disassembled planetarium and various other demo materials into cars and headed south. By twenty past eight we had all of our supplies in the building and up the small elevator (too small for our dolly) to the 5th grade hallway. By 8:40, to our surprise our dome was assembled!
The day was planned with 3 stations. One was the build-a-galileoscope station, where students learned a little about how lenses focused light and put together a simple telescope in groups. Another station was the spectroscopy demo, where students looked through small diffraction gratings (e.g. these) at various gas lamps, classroom lights, and sunlight from the window to learn about how astronomers can measure light by its color and what we can learn. And of course the main event was the planetarium show. A couple of students put together a fantastic show, starting at a google earth view of the kids’ school, panning out into the solar system and beyond, all the way back to the hubble deep field.
It was a really spectacular day and I’m so proud of everyone who contributed to this project. It would not have been possible without the combined effort of the dedicated volunteers, putting in hours on weekends and weeknights. At the end of the day it was more than just a planetarium show. We brought astronomy to a group of fifth graders from the perspective of young and eager scientists. And hopefully we planted the idea that everyone can be a scientist.