Heller visited my high school in the early 1960s when Catch-22 was an international bestseller, and told us the memorable story of its naming and re-naming: He had always called the book “Catch-18” while writing it, he said, and every instance of the phrase “Catch-22” had appeared as “Catch-18” in his manuscript. It is interesting to learn that you thought I was a woman. He also sent letters to individual researchers at observatories all over the world, asking whether they could put $500 to immediate good use — say, to hire an assistant, repair an instrument, or publish a backlog of data. Larkin's poem, called "Travellers," did the same. The Glass Universe tells a story of science that is not of individual, isolated genius, but rather an endeavor of collaboration and cooperation, setbacks and celebration. Her terseness, neither impolite nor impatient, struck me as a form of personal conservation, as though she were saving her own energy for the work at hand. She flew toward the heaven but felt shameful to have left Hou Yi behind, so she went to the Moon palace instead, where she has lived lonely ever since. But, back at the Harvard Observatory, further studies required better technology. I’ve found that the best book club discussion questions are ones that are open-ended and that get people to share their personal opinions. As many women as men have contributed, including some at the very start of their careers. Sobel writes: He believed women could conduct the work as well as men: “Many ladies are interested in astronomy and own telescopes, but with two or three noteworthy exceptions their contributions to the science have been almost nothing. Those choices, which reflected my interests more than theirs, bound me ever closer to the group. Acknowledging the inadequacy of most poetry translations, he gave me four versions of the second poem, each by a different translator. “Do you think I could get away with calling it a river of grass?” Marjory asked the state hydrologist, the first expert she consulted in her research. The author never sees the translation until it appears in print (and sometimes not even then). When I arrived at the library on March 19, about an hour ahead of the two hundred invited guests, a pleasant surprise made me discard my prepared remarks. Apparently, his efforts went unappreciated on those occasions, as he told me that many of the corrections he offered were not incorporated in the final texts. When New Horizons wakes up for a trajectory correction or instrument test, the bear is propped into a sitting position and dons his party hat. — This has been a year for recalling the forgotten roles women played in astronomy and spaceflight. Dava Sobel’s new book, “The Glass Universe,” tells the story of a group of women at Harvard who conducted breakthrough research on the nature of stars and the universe. But I'm happy to be at my work, and to be here, on Paradise Pond. After the ceremony, she urged the ex-mayor to run for president. Cummings on Art, Life, and Being Unafraid to Feel, The Writing of “Silent Spring”: Rachel Carson and the Culture-Shifting Courage to Speak Inconvenient Truth to Power, Timeless Advice on Writing: The Collected Wisdom of Great Writers, A Rap on Race: Margaret Mead and James Baldwin’s Rare Conversation on Forgiveness and the Difference Between Guilt and Responsibility, The Science of Stress and How Our Emotions Affect Our Susceptibility to Burnout and Disease, Mary Oliver on What Attention Really Means and Her Moving Elegy for Her Soul Mate, Rebecca Solnit on Hope in Dark Times, Resisting the Defeatism of Easy Despair, and What Victory Really Means for Movements of Social Change, The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone, Meet Mary Somerville: The Brilliant Woman for Whom the Word “Scientist” Was Coined, Stitching the Stars: Trailblazing Astronomer Maria Mitchell on the Needle as a Double-Edged Instrument of the Mind and Why Women Are Better Suited for Astronomy Than Men, Remembering Vera Rubin: The Trailblazing Astrophysicist Who Confirmed the Existence of Dark Matter and Paved the Way for Modern Women in Science, Famous Writers' Sleep Habits vs. It was really a lovely sight and always new to us. Pickering first began hiring women after he ran out of funding and was unable to afford any more paid staff. Mingbo had listed six specific questions concerning expressions such as “landed son” and “passing fair,” but what struck me about the letter was its invitation to a collaboration. Indeed, the entire Age of Exploration was carried out without any of … Determined to memorialize her husband’s legacy and advance further research through astrophotography, which revealed stars invisible through even the most advanced telescopes, she gave Pickering a check for $1,000 on February 20, 1886, equivalent to more than $25,000 today — the first of numerous installments. The official “launch” took place in the old observatory building, among the half million glass photographic plates still treasured by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. When I searched for "Kort Onderwys" [a Dutch book title mentioned in Longitude], I was led to Prof. Mario Biagioli's homepage in Harvard. I had been in fear since I sent those two emails, lest my carelessness and ruthlessness offended you. Today's poem happened to be by Philip Larkin. We will start to come face to face with Pluto and its five known moons next January, when New Horizons rouses to begin its reconnaissance. The list of "a" words, read aloud, sounds a little like a Latin conjugation: alas, alight, allot, allow, amass, apace, avow . I sent Mingbo a press release regarding the launch of the first Chinese mission to the Moon. When the work and the pressure of newspaper reporting proved overwhelming, she turned to short story writing for magazines such as the Saturday Evening Post. Could you please clarify the following items for me? She came to get a divorce from the enigmatic Kenneth Douglas, a writer thirty years her senior whom she’d married in 1913, and also to be reunited with her father, Judge Frank B. Stoneman, editor of the Miami Herald, whom she hadn’t seen for twenty years. The Foundation's prizes reflect his various interests, and include youth awards to promising students in the sciences. Producer Stephanie Carter interviewed me as a “talking head” in the library at Columbia University, where I got to fondle and page through a bona fide copy of the volume. the Foundation conferred its Technology Award on the affable. Recently Mr. Lamb donated his collection of the 801 annotated "Booknotes" books to the library at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. The phrase “glass universe” may evoke the ancient notion of crystalline celestial spheres, but I use it to describe Harvard’s incomparable collection of half a million glass photographic plates, taken with cameras attached to telescopes, in a century-long effort to catalogue the entire content of the cosmos. It chronicles the amazing stories of women working at the Observatory as early as the late 19th century. I am still waiting, still hoping, still trying for a second staging of my Copernicus play, “And the Sun Stood Still,” to follow its successful production in Boulder last spring. I was pleased to be invited to speak recently at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington for the opening of "Ships, Clocks & Stars: The Quest for Longitude." The bristling, blossoming tops do not bend easily like standing grain. All this fun is so much more than I envisioned when the idea for the play first occurred to me, forty-plus years ago. (This essay originally appeared on Powells.com.). The phrase “glass universe” may evoke the ancient notion of crystalline celestial spheres, but I use it to describe Harvard’s incomparable collection of half a million glass photographic plates, taken with cameras attached to telescopes, in a century-long effort to catalogue the entire content of the cosmos. The new book belongs to the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A translator has to go to details though, because he must make out the meaning and put it into a different language. He invited her to contribute to a series of books about the rivers of America, and suggested the Miami River. The Glass Universe: How Harvard’s Unsung Women Astronomers Revolutionized Our Understanding of the Cosmos Decades Before Women Could Vote, Singularity: Marie Howe’s Ode to Stephen Hawking, Our Cosmic Belonging, and the Meaning of Home, in a Stunning Animated Short Film, The Cosmic Miracle of Trees: Astronaut Leland Melvin Reads Pablo Neruda’s Love Letter to Earth’s Forests, How Kepler Invented Science Fiction and Defended His Mother in a Witchcraft Trial While Revolutionizing Our Understanding of the Universe, 13 Life-Learnings from 13 Years of Brain Pickings, Emily Dickinson’s Electric Love Letters to Susan Gilbert, Rebecca Solnit’s Lovely Letter to Children About How Books Solace, Empower, and Transform Us, Fixed vs. Growth: The Two Basic Mindsets That Shape Our Lives, In Praise of the Telescopic Perspective: A Reflection on Living Through Turbulent Times, A Stoic’s Key to Peace of Mind: Seneca on the Antidote to Anxiety, The Courage to Be Yourself: E.E. As one of several past Washburn laureates invited back to join the happy fuss over the new ones, I sat in the audience with Paula Apsell (1994), senior executive director of NOVA. Even though New Horizons is performing perfectly, and every phase of the mission has gone according to plan thus far, the spacecraft's handlers live with a constant concern for its welfare. I was so taken aback that for a moment I couldn't remember the date. Although Longitude named its topic as plainly as possible, still the title left room for disbelief. He was also a prolific popular writer and children's author. Beginning in the late-1800s, women were employed by … Here, it is worth noting that the story of the “Harvard computers” also raises subtler questions about the cultural narratives woven into our language itself. He spoke out against draining in his editorials. . She had shown an early sympathy for nature, as she related in her autobiography, Marjory Stoneman Douglas: Voice of the River: “Upstairs in the sitting room, father read to me, mostly from ‘Hiawatha.’ When he came to Hiawatha building the canoe and saying to the birch tree, ‘Give me of your bark, oh, birch tree,’ and the birch tree sighing and bending over to give up its bark, he was astonished by the fact that I burst into loud sobs. How wrong I was. The back-to-school season finds me once again at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. Having traveled to England last summer to see the exhibition's first iteration, I wanted to help welcome the items to the States. But the same cannot be said for the rest of any month. I recall, while I was painfully searching for appropriate Chinese words to translate some sentences in the chapter on moon, I wished the next chapter would be easier, but later on found with disillusion that it was as difficult. Privacy policy. His mathematical work in restricting the planets to perfectly circular motion defined his vision of “a more perfect heaven.” I liked the sound of that. Many Floridians then viewed the Everglades as a snake-infested swamp that would benefit from nothing so much as a thorough draining. Looking Glass Universe is a channel that tries to explain some basic principles of Quantum Mechanics (QM). Finding herself “overqualified for yeoman work in the Navy,” she put in for an early honorable discharge and then served overseas in France with the American Red Cross. One of the first things I asked when I met her in 1991 was how she had managed to hold fast to her goals when it seemed she might never prevail. That was bad for Hou Yi and his wife, because now they would be mortal like ordinary people. Our conversation about it aired on "Booknotes" on January 17, 1999. The ambitious photography project, begun in the 1880s, is culminating today in a digitization process designed to preserve and disseminate the as yet untapped content of all that glass. The numerous scientific instruments and portraits, including one of 18th-century clockmaker John "Longitude" Harrison, look splendid in the Folger's Great Hall, their new temporary home. From the nature of the universe (that's if there is only one) to the purpose of dreams, there are many things we still don't know – but we might do soon. In addition to the interaction with truly motivated students, I enjoy my friendships with a few faculty members and the physical beauty of the campus, including Paradise Pond. She had long been better known as a gifted writer and environmentalist who campaigned most of her 108 years—from the 1920s through the 1990s—for the preservation of the Everglades. Now, having smoothly executed the maneuver, it would go back to sleep for a few months while coasting toward its destiny. Curie's writings is the one that astronomer Annie Jump Cannon recorded in a notebook in 1922, while on an observing run in Arequipa, Peru. With Anna Draper’s funding, the women of the Harvard Observatory amassed an enormous library of half a million glass plates — Sobel’s “glass universe” — cataloging more stars than anyone had previously thought possible. In the brief time I had to chat with him, I thought we might commiserate about the declining memory capacity of the human brain, but Immink was having none of that. Despite her advanced age and the respect she commanded, people tended to call her by her first name, and she did not object. BTW, I got to know my editor via the Internet as well, when we met in a nice website of used-book transaction. A Penguin paperback edition followed in 2017. Subscribe to this free midweek pick-me-up for heart, mind, and spirit below — it is separate from the standard Sunday digest of new pieces: “No woman should say, ‘I am but a woman!’ But a woman! Gingerich is an acknowledged world authority on Copernicus, which makes his rendition of the role an oversized in-joke for our audiences. What’s more, I had intended the book expressly for people who knew little or nothing about astronomy. I was most pleasantly surprised a few months ago to learn that the Eduard Rhein Foundation of Germany wanted to give me its 2014 Cultural Award. In 1916, during the first World War, she was assigned a story on the first female enlistee from Florida in the Naval Reserve. The cause she championed was equality for women in astronomy. Brain Pickings participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn commissions by linking to Amazon. The 5 Biggest Questions About the Universe (and How We're Trying To Answer Them) This image from the Hubble Space Telescope shows the distribution of … By the time of closest approach in July, we'll see what kind of world Pluto is. As the text went to copy-editing and design, however, concern arose that the title smacked of “chick book.” Fortunately for me, no one in the publishing house or literary agency could come up with an acceptable alternative, and the original stuck. One often wonders about the quality of the translations of one’s books, but an author has no control over the issue. Since 2006, I have been spending hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars each month to keep Brain Pickings going. She had always wanted to be a writer, had written in high school and majored in English composition in college, but it took the society editor’s sudden departure to land Marjory in her dream career. On this day, the Chinese will try their best to bring the whole family together, just as the western reunite in the Christmas eve. Another of my daily rituals is listening to Garrison Keillor intone history notes and a poem in his pleasing baritone on "The Writer's Almanac." Friends addicted to "Booknotes" had warned me that Mr. Lamb often pursued odd points of fact, such as the type of pen a writer employed. No other translator, from any country, had ever tried to engage me this way. In a recent re-reading of E. M. Forester’s classic, A Room With a View, I found the blue and violet hues celebrated beautifully: I am slow to acknowledge the relocation of the traveling time exhibition, "Ships, Clocks & Stars," from Washington's Folger Library to the Mystic Seaport in Connecticut, where it re-opened on September 18. Need to cancel a recurring donation? At 10 a.m. on April 20, they will again lend her name to their cause as they honor the victims of the 1999 Columbine shooting by walking out the doors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. They are the country’s newest river, surging forward, rising. I had exchanged brief comments with the Polish and Hebrew translators, but nothing to compare with Mingbo’s hunger for the nuances of meaning. In another few days I received a thank-you note from Mother Mary Angela with the names of the latest acquisitions. By 1890, Fleming had singlehandedly classified the spectra of ten thousand stars and published the findings in the tome The Draper Catalogue of Stellar Spectra, all four hundred pages of which she herself had meticulously proofread. Pickering was a visionary man in many regards. The following week, the answers to the previous week's puzzles appeared, and sent another small electric charge through the members of my family. This new, unknown component, which comprises ~68% of the matter-energy content of the universe, will determine the ultimate fate of all. I used different pages of the same notebook to achieve the same goal with The Planets. Complement it with the story of the black women mathematicians of NASA and this illustrated homage to women in science, then revisit the story of how astronomer Jocelyn Bell earned the exclamation “Miss Bell, you have made the greatest astronomical discovery of the twentieth century.”. Book Review: 'The Glass Universe,' By Dava Sobel Dava Sobel's new book is a history of the unheralded women — called computers, rather than astronomers — … H-4 was made for travel. In more human terms, this means that whenever you buy a book on Amazon from a link on here, I receive a small percentage of its price. But it wasn’t love of the wilderness that brought her to South Florida in 1915. I meant to praise the copies for being fully functional and exact in every detail. His name sufficed as an interim title during the research phase (a Nick-name, if you will), until his own writings suggested something apt. After all, he built them as prototypes, and hoped the best design would multiply to occupy every vessel in the Royal Navy. Over its endless acres here and there the shadows of the dazzling clouds quicken and slide, purple-brown, plum-brown, mauve-brown, rust-brown, bronze. When I translate your books, it occurs to me that if I had read them when I was a teenager, I would have chosen a different major. The enemy dared not come out to meet the challenge but shot arrows at the boats. But now he became a fact-checker in addition to his role as translator. “I suppose you could say the Everglades and I have the kind of friendship that doesn’t depend on constant physical contact.”. 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