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The Storm Hit and Started a Fire

Actually, the storm of events that was last week and the fires in Northern California are not related but are both huge impacts on my summer.

The Eiler Fire is mere miles from the Allen Telescope Array in Hat Creek, CA. All the scientists and staff at the ATA have been evacuated and the power is off. While this has very big and scary implications for SETI Institute, it’s completely changed my research goals. The archived data, which is the foundation of my project, is physically located at the ATA, thus it will be inaccessible at least until the fire is contained. The estimated containment date is August 20th. So now I’m facing the daunting task of redefining my project with the data all ready pulled. I guess research problems come in all forms. Needless to say, this week is not looking as cheery as last week was.

I am rejoicing in the slower pace of this week, though. Attending 5 presentations, giving a presentation, participating in a documentary interview, visiting an amazing observatory and watching two movies in one day are exhausting! The presentations were all really fascinating. I’ve learned so much about public speaking from watching seasoned veterans like Seth Shostak, Jill Tarter, Geoff Marcy and Chris McKay. After my presentation, I know my biggest hurdle will be learning to speak directly to the audience without reading my slide notes, rambling or losing track of where I’m going. I’m proud of my Journal Club presentation but I have to work on presentation style. I created a transcript in my notes for the presentation. I thought this would help keep me on track and soothe my nerves. It worked far too well, I ended up reading too often from the screen and sounding rehearsed. Luckily, I have 4 more presentations to prepare for in the next few months! As intense as life will be, it will be nice to present back to back to really engrain the improvements.

Learning more about the Allen Telescope Array from the amazing Dr. Jill Tarter who build them with her own hands.

Learning more about the Allen Telescope Array from the amazing Dr. Jill Tarter who build them with her own hands.

I was able to be fairly concise during the Madame Mars interview actually! I seriously have a rambling problem, so I ultra-focused on giving to the point answers. I’m really excited to see the final product. Mainly everyone else’s interviews! The documentary looks at women in science, our goals, interplanetary dreams, and how gender roles have or haven’t affected our careers. Their questions were very open-ended which allowed for the wide range of viewpoints amongst the 5 interns to shine through. I’m very much more of actions are greater than words type when it comes to discrimination. Even though I’m a minority women in a sea of old white guys, I don’t feel marginalized because I pay no attention to it. I’m going to do, ask, learn and experience everything I want. I just don’t have time to worry about being marginalized, if someone does discriminate against me I find a way around that person instead of fretting over the discrimination. Luckily, I live in a time when discrimination is essentially illegal, so ways around the discriminator are much easier now than ever before. I’m very thankful for this.

I’m, also, very thankful for the trip we were taken on to Lick Observatory. I’m no observatory aficionado but Lick is incredibly beautiful! The fact that cutting edge science is conducted amongst such beauty makes me want to live there!

Looking over the bay from Mount Hamilton on the steps of Lick Observatory

Looking over the bay from Mount Hamilton on the steps of Lick Observatory

The dome houses the 36 inch James Lick telescope.

The dome houses the 36 inch James Lick telescope.

Drainage holes make great frames!

Drainage holes make great frames!

Inside the dome. The James Lick telescope is a steampunk dream! I feel like the horizontal gears should actually be Tesla coils.

Inside the dome. The James Lick telescope is a steampunk dream! I feel like the horizontal gears should actually be Tesla coils.

Every inch of the observatory and it's grounds are beautiful.

Every inch of the observatory and it’s grounds are beautiful.

Ending that crazy busy week with a weekend in San Jose with my husband was so perfect. We ate all our meals outside enjoying the cool summer breeze, watched two dope movies (Get On Up and Guardians of the Galaxy) and attended the Astronomical Society of the Pacific’s public event, Universe 2014. Each talk and the panel were incredible! It must be a fine tuned skill to give professionals new information while still appealing to the general public. I learned so much and my husband, who’s an animator, enjoyed every moment of it and was so excited by all that he learned! One day, I too will master public outreach like they have!

Enjoying the beautiful San Jose weather!

Enjoying the beautiful San Jose weather!

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