Showing posts from 2020

Jocelyn Bell Burnell and Pulsars

This image shows Bell Burnell as a graduate smiling in front of a radio telescope. A pulsar is a rapidly spinning dead star chunk that emits beams of electromagnetic radiation, like the lights on a lighthouse, out into space. They were first witnessed in 1967 by astronomer Jocelyn Bell Burnell and are one of the strangest objects the universe has to offer. In a controversial decision, Bell Burnell missed out on the Nobel Prize in Physics for their discovery. All the credit went to her thesis professors.Early LifeBorn on July 15th, 1943, in Belfast, Ireland, Bell Burnell enjoyed science from a young age. Her parents encouraged her interest. When she failed a higher learning exam, they sent her off to England where she would have a better chance of succeeding. She excelled in her classes and went to the University of Glasgow to study a Bachelor of Science majoring in Physics. She graduated …

STEMinist – The Case of the Indian Woman

The more I travel and work in various cities and countries, encountering difficulties as a mechanical engineer in a male-dominated industry, the more I am aware of my privilege growing up in a feminist Indian family. At 12 years old, when I had only recently moved out of India, wanting to be an engineer seemed anything but unusual. Of course, it was convenient for me that most parents in India are obsessed with pushing their children towards STEM-based careers. Girls often outperform boys to bag the coveted 1st rank in the highly publicized senior board exam results, with impossibly perfect grades in mathematics and science.

1: The toppers of Central Board of Secondary Education final 12th grade exams in 2019, with their grades
As I stepped out of India and met the rest of the world, I found myself more and more alone in classes and then workplaces. Research at Open University found that 35% of specialist technology roles in India are filled by women, compared to 17% in the UK. I found…

Do We Still Have a Victorian Mindset Towards Women?

We often ridicule the Victorians for their backward views, conservative ways, and blatantly sexist mindsets. However, studying Victorian literature, there are some notable parallels between their attitudes then and our attitudes now. Fiction is a vision into the past– it shows opinions, both personal and public, and manages to convey the wider context in a way studying statistics cannot.
It is important to remember that literature is of its time. ‘Pride and Prejudice’ would not be considered a pioneering feminist novel nowadays, but in 1813 Elizabeth Bennet’s character completely defied the perfect, ‘angel of the house’ archetype that women were expected to strive for; intelligent and fiercely independent, she turned down marriage proposals for her own sake, rather than accepting them as she was expected to.
The point is that in an ever-progressing society, these views should have changed. We view ourselves as superior to the Victorians, but in fact, these examples from literature prove…

NASA's First All Women Spacewalk

Meir and Koch. Picture:
On October 18th, 2019, NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir made history. They were the first all-woman team to perform a spacewalk on the International Space Station (ISS). Koch and Meir follow in the footsteps of other pioneering space women. For example, the first female spacewalk took place 35 years ago.
The Historic Spacewalk

Koch during the Spacewalk. Picture:
At 07:38am (North American time), Koch exited the ISS in an extravehicular activity suit (space suit), followed a short time later by Meir. The two women went to work replacing a faulty battery charge/discharge unit. The device is one of a few pieces of equipment that is responsible for regulating the station’s power. It had failed the previous week but was not critical to life support. However, the task needed to be completed because it was hindering upgrades on th…