Space, Snails & Quanta: Getting My Geek on at the World Science Festival

I spent theWorld Science Festival 2015 last week of May doing something very cool: volunteering at the World Science Festival. And by “cool” I mean getting up close and personal with squid guts.

First up was a lecture by Ellen Stofan, NASA Chief Scientist. Did you know that the Chief Scientist at NASA is a woman? Neither did I. In one way I think that’s terrific; in another way I hope we’re getting past the “oh my gosh it’s a woman” phase and can just focus on her long fascination with space and science.

We have something in common, Dr. Stofan and me: we inherited our interest in science from our parents. In Stofan’s case it was her father, who worked for NASA during its early days; in my case it was my Mom, who was fascinated by the space program and watched every liftoff and splashdown on TV. To me it was as natural as watching a favorite TV series or sports team.

Poster for Dr. Ellen Stofan's talk at #WSF15
Poster for Dr. Ellen Stofan’s talk at #WSF15

In third grade our teacher thought it would be a good idea to watch an early (pre-moon landing) Apollo liftoff during class time. When a boy in my class expressed amazement at watching a liftoff for the first time, I replied, “But they’re on all the time!” In my house, they were; not everyone had the same experience.

So, really, it’s because of Mom that I was sitting in a cafe at the New School, watching the live stream of Dr. Stofan’s talk from the packed auditorium nearby. The audience was an invited group of high school and middle school students from around New York City whom we’d checked in as they arrived. (I particularly remember a Summer program called “Mathematical Problem Solving”–because that’s so much better than solving problems with guess-work and wishful thinking?)

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Advice to New Bloggers

When I shared the news that I’ve given my blog a makeover, it led to a short conversation with Barbara, one of my LinkedIn connections. I asked if she has a blog and she replied, “No, but I’d love to start one for Emergency Management and Public Safety issues.” Well, I happen to be hunkered down in New York City while we wait to see if the forecast blizzard turns out to be the apocalypse they’re forecasting, so I’m going to use my time to share some suggestions for new bloggers.

If it seems like everyone and his brother already has a blog, it may be close; but there are a few who still haven’t joined the party. There’s still room!

I started blogging on a whim–and my goal wasn’t really to have a blog of my own but to help a writer friend start a blog of her own. As I played around with it, I got interested in building a better blog of my own. Most of what I know is self-taught, learned by experimentation and looking at what other bloggers do. In retrospect, that’s a very good way to do it–the online world changes so frequently that any print book you may find on blogging will be slightly out of date. (Though having a print reference at hand might be helpful at first, so if it works for you go ahead–just remember that what you find on your new blogging platform might be a little different than what’s in the book.)

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Updating My Blog

You’ve probably noticed that I recently did a major update to the design of this blog. I’m very pleased with the outcome and I hope that you, as a reader, are also happy with it. (If you’re not, please leave a comment and let me know what’s not working–and what device, browser, app, etc. you’re using.)

As I mentioned in my first post this year, I’ve been expanding my scope to include other online forms. One of those is SlideShare, so I made a SlideShare presentation to explain how I updated Circle of Ignorance.


On Not Being What’s Expected

A week or so ago I read a post on Medium by a young woman who is studying Engineering at MIT. In it she recounted some of the bizarre sexist reactions she gets as a blonde engineering student. (I read her exchange with a dental hygienist to my Dad, who is over 80 and not exactly a feminist, and even he was shocked.)

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