Happy (belated) 400th birthday to the telescope! 2009 will mark the official International Year of Astronomy as the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s observations. However, the telescope itself was invented a bit before that. It’s invention may be attributed to Hans Lipperhey who applied for a patent on October 2, 1608. Also, happy 51st (belated) anniversary to Sputnik, which launched on October 4th, 1957.
So where does the future of science lie? With 13% of girls age 13-18, it seems! A recent poll from the UK caused some to lament that 31% of 1000 girls surveyed wanted to be models. But, as the Bad Astronomer points out, it’s great that such a large percentage at that age actually do want to be scientists! Could you imagine a world where 13% of the population actually were scientists? It might be a bit like Eureka. Unfortunately, in the real world, positions for scientists are a bit more scarce than that, and only a few of those girls will actually get opportunities to go on to science. However, a large number may decide that it just isn’t for them, or may go into a science-related field! I hope that none ever lose their love of it. And after all, 13% isn’t bad when models get reality tv shows and scientists, at least to my knowledge, do not. I have always said, however, that REU programs are ripe for reality tv. 10 undergrads from different institutions being thrown into a house/dorm together in a research environment? It could work.
For the record, I was 11 or 12 when I decided that I wanted to be an astronomer. I was about 5 when I decided I wanted to be a scientist. I had a mom who said “you can be whatever you want, I just want you to be happy,” and teachers who said, “oh yes, astronomy is an actual career path! Here are the classes you should take…” Thanks 🙂
Oh, and for some astronomy NOW, new pictures of Mercury from the MESSENGER flyby!