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Spanning the Spectrum with Public Science
 

Spanning the Spectrum with Public Science

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Leiden Science Communication Seminar by Kimberly Kowal Arcand on 28 September 2012

Leiden Science Communication Seminar by Kimberly Kowal Arcand on 28 September 2012

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  • NASA ’s Chandra X-ray Observatory Orbits ~1/3 of the way to the moon. Studies the high-energy regions of the Universe including black holes, exploding stars and colliding galaxies. TOPICS Digital and Online projects Events (Public Science) Research and Methodologies
  • Star clusters, the galactic center, huge clusters of galaxies, supernova remnants. These are some of the exotica that Chandra observes. But telling a complete picture with just X-rays or any single slice of the electromagnetic spectrum is quite difficult…or you could say impossible since the equivalent might be trying to study a soccer game by just seeing a small portion of midfield in soccer/football and having to figure out the entire game.
  • We try to provide as much multiwavelength context as we can. These are just NASA’s great observatories but we use the data from many other telescopes, from ESO’s and ESA’s fleet of missions to smaller observatories around the world.
  • -Social media and mobile platforms: Blogs, Photo Blog, Podcasts (HD), Twitter, YouTube, FB, user ratings, etc. -Metadata/AVM and GoogleSky, Microsoft WWT -Open Gov initiative with openFits -Experimenting with multi-user multi-touch platforms (such as MS Surface)
  • Studying the public ’s perception and understanding of astronomical imagery across multiple traditional and non-traditional venues and platforms, including mobile and web platforms.  Results of initial 2008 study were gathered from focus groups and online surveys. A portable research exhibit traveled to 6 locations in 2010 for the second phase of the study. A mobile-platform study was also completed to investigate if size matters: http://chandra.si.edu/mobile/aa.html
  • We approached the following research questions:   • How much do variations in presentation of color, explanation, and scale affect comprehension of astronomical images? • What are the differences between various populations (experts, novices, students) in terms of what they learn from the images? • What misconceptions do the non-experts have about astronomy and the images they are exposed to?   Does presentation have an effect on the participant– whether aesthetic or in terms of learning?
  • Overall outcomes from the initial study: • Providing context for the image is critical to comprehension. • Experts prefer text that is shorter/to the point; novices prefer narrative expository style to accompany image. • A sense of scale with the images is helpful for comprehension at all levels of expertise. • Experts and novices view the images differently. Novices begin with a sense of awe/wonder, and focus first on the aesthetic qualities. Experts wonder how the image was produced, what information is being presented in the image, and what the creators of the image wanted to convey. • Experts are much more likely to view blue as hot than are novices; about 80% of novices see red as hot compared to 60% of experts. More details from 2008 study available in Journal of Science Communication: http://tiny.cc/t2mhx & upcoming issue of Communicating Science with the Public.
  • Quickly went from preliminary academic research to field-tested practices on the Chandra web site http://chandra.si.edu Added bulleted text for each new image, interactive labeling, and put “Wikipedia-style” links in the body of the text. Each of these changes came out of the feedback we received during the online survey and focus groups.   Developed an interactive multiwavelength image feature that allows the user to move from one energy band to another, and ultimately “build” the composite themselves. Built an interactive, question-based text script into the Chandra photo pages with click-tracking methods to count the user clicks per question and per image, and to compare totals. The feedback from the public on these relatively simple changes to the website have been overwhelmingly positive, through our comment and rating sections. Our next step is to implement a questionnaire on the Chandra website to ask users specifically how these new features affect their enjoyment and comprehension of the image and the science behind it. Similar implementation with a series of print products that includes posters featuring multiwavelength astronomical images. Here, we use the tried and true series of questions: who, what, when, where, why, and how to engage the viewer in an approachable manner. The text highlights some of the content that was commonly asked during the focus groups including how the images were made, the historical importance of the object, the location in the night sky, etc. Data collection and a brief summative evaluation of these six posters are being conducted to analyze the impact of the improved features on the public ’s understanding.
  • Latest data analysis includes evidence for understanding the effectiveness of an astronomy exhibition in terms of gauging how much visitors have learned;  what type of story format may be best for engaging the visitor/participant learning; and what type of platform may be best for implementation. Preliminary analysis shows that size matters and that the Q&A and fun fact versions of narrative were confirmed over traditional tombstone data caption formats. To be submitted, Curator Papers/articles at http://astroart.cfa.harvard.edu/
  • Simultaneously, while A&A was getting off the ground, we launched an image exhibition project. FETTU was a grassroots project from IYA2009 that created a digital repository of astronomical images that local organizers were then encouraged to use to make their own exhibits. The results were inspiring.
  • Chicago and Atlanta airports: millions of people saw the images – they are still there. Scores of versions of FETTU in Brazil. In China, featured outside the Beijing Planetarium.
  • Public art is defined by wikipedia as “ artwork that has been planned and executed with the specific intention of being sited or staged in the physical public domain, usually outside and accessible to all.” Some of the most famous examples around the world include The Gates by Christo and Jean-Claude; Big Yellow Rabbit by Florentijn Hofman; Cloud Gate by Anish Kapoo
  • We posit an equivalent for science: Public science = “ science outreach that has been conducted outdoors or in another type of public or accessible space such as a public park, metro stop, library etc. with the intention of engaging the public.”
  • Using this definition, we can go back and identify many projects that could arguably be considered public science. Here are some of our favorites. Science City: ran from June 1994 through May 1995. Created by organizers from the New York Hall of Science, "Science City" was an outdoor exhibition that utilized the street, fences, buildings and other public structures in New York City to attract the "non-museum-going" public to the science in everyday life; For Science on the Buses, city buses were decorated with large informational science posters inside or outside, taking science concepts outside museum and planetarium walls; Other sci festivals include San Diego, Philadelphia, SF
  • FETTU was an image exhibition project created for IIYA2009. It was grassroots project that created a digital repository of astronomical images that local organizers were then encouraged to use to make their own exhibits. Unique model for astronomy outreach: Distributed Curation Global to Local Methodology
  • Chicago and Atlanta airports: millions of people saw the images – they are still there. Scores of versions of FETTU in Brazil. In China, featured outside the Beijing Planetarium.
  • Test the sustainability of such a model with FETTSS Collaboration with our group (CXC/SAO) and NASA ’s Astrobiology Institute FETTSS is tied to NASA ’s Year of the Solar System that ran from October 2010 through August 2012. An exhibit in spain occurred in 2011: Portal de La Marina commercial centre in Ondara Spain and about 100 other sites world wide
  • RECORDS OF ANCIENT LIFE: For about 85% of the history of life on Earth, only microbes existed. The only large-scale evidence of their activities is preserved by stromatolites, ancient structural records of life on Earth which hold evidence both of the biology of the microbial mat communities that created them, and the nature of the environments in which they grew. They are rocky, dome-shaped structures formed in shallow water through the trapping of sedimentary grains by communities of microorganisms. When too much material becomes trapped in the mats and limits the amount of sunlight that can filter through, the organisms migrate up and form a new community on top of the old. Stromatolites are mostly found in lakes and marine lagoons where extreme conditions such as high saline levels prevent animals from grazing. One such location is the Hamelin Pool Marine Nature Reserve in Shark Bay, Western Australia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where living specimens are preserved today. Image Credit: Mark Boyle
  • EXTREME COLOR: What is causing the beautiful colors in this hot spring in Yellowstone National Park? Life, that’s what! Many microorganisms live in the pools there, and because the temperatures of the springs are so hot (most are well over 100˚F), they are called extremophiles (extreme-loving). They contain molecules that absorb the damaging rays of the Sun, protecting their DNA. Those same molecules are also pigments that cause the different colors we see. Different extremophiles thrive in different temperatures, so the color of a particular area is determined by which organisms are living in it. A veritable rainbow appears as the water temperature decreases as it flows further and further away from its superheated source. Image Credit: Darren Edwards
  • THE LIGHT SHOW OF A LIFETIME: For many who have seen it, the Aurora Borealis is a spectacle to remember. Aurorae are caused by currents of energetic charged particles in Earth's magnetosphere flowing through the upper atmosphere. The interaction of the solar wind with Earth's magnetosphere drives these currents. The more active the Sun, especially during the peak of its 11-year solar cycle, the more charged particles flow to Earth’s magnetic poles. These charged particles eventually collide with gas molecules in the upper atmosphere, causing them to ionize and emit colored light. Since the next solar maximum will occur in May, 2013, more of these gorgeous light shows can be expected, perhaps even at lower latitudes. Image Credit: Pekka Parviainen/Science Photo Library
  • A LUNAR ECLIPSE: Why does the Moon have a reddish hue in these images? It's the same reason that the Sun appears reddish during a sunset: scattered light. In a lunar eclipse, the Earth is situated directly between the Sun and the Moon. Sunlight reaching the Moon travels a path through dense layers of Earth's atmosphere. Atmospheric particles preferentially scatter out shorter (bluer) wavelengths leaving only the longer (redder) wavelengths to refract (bend) through the atmosphere and illuminate the Moon. Image Credit: Akira Fujii/Ciel et Espace
  • SPACE WEATHER: What is a storm on the Sun like? Most of the time when we talk about “the weather,” we are referring to the state of Earth’s atmosphere that gives us rain, wind, and temperature changes. The “space weather” produced by the Sun extends deep into the Solar System. It drives some of the greatest changes in our local space environment—affecting our magnetosphere, ionosphere, atmosphere, and potentially our climate. The Sun contains very powerful magnetic fields and they can become twisted and tangled, storing enormous amounts of energy. When the Sun becomes stormy, all that pent-up energy erupts in the form of the Solar System's largest explosions: solar flares and coronal mass ejections. These blasts of light and charged gas rip through the solar wind and sometimes impact the bodies of the Solar System. Luckily, Earth’s magnetosphere acts as a shield, and its atmosphere absorbs the dangerous radiation, protecting us. Image Credit: NASA/SDO
  • DUNES AT THE MARTIAN NORTH POLE: A sea of dunes, sculpted by the wind into long lines, surrounds the northern polar cap of Mars, covering an area as big as Texas. In this false-color image, areas with cooler temperatures are recorded in blue tints, while warmer features are depicted in yellows and oranges. This scene combines images taken between 2002—2004 by the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) instrument onboard NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter. In December, 2010, Mars Odyssey became the longest-serving spacecraft at the Red Planet. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Arizona State University, Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS)
  • A MINI-SOLAR SYSTEM: Jupiter, the most massive planet in our Solar System—with over 50 known moons and an enormous magnetic field—forms a kind of miniature solar system. Jupiter resembles a star in composition, but it never grew big enough to ignite. Several of its moons are of interest to astrobiologists searching for life elsewhere in the Solar System. This image of Jupiter has been color-coded to show cloud height from high altitude (white) through mid-range (blue) to low altitude (red). NASA's Juno mission, launching in August, 2011 and arriving at Jupiter in July, 2016, will map the gravity field, magnetic field, and atmospheric structure of Jupiter, and provide key insights to enhance current theories about the early formation of our Solar System. Image Credit: Travis Rector (U. Alaska, Anchorage), Chad Trujillo and the Gemini Altair Team, NOAO/AURA/NSF
  • YIN AND YANG: Iapetus has been called the ‘yin and yang’ of Saturn’s moons because the surface of one of its hemispheres is dark, about as reflective as coal, while the other is much brighter. In many places, the dark material—thought to be composed of nitrogen-bearing organic compounds called cyanides, hydrated minerals, and other carbonaceous minerals—appears to coat equator-facing slopes and crater floors. This hemisphere of Iapetus appears heavily cratered, particularly in the north and south polar regions. The most prominent topographic feature is a 450km-wide impact basin, one of at least nine such large basins on Iapetus. Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
  • URANUS: Uranus is the third largest planet in our Solar System. It was discovered by astronomer William Herschel in 1781, and shares its name with the Greek god of the sky. Most of what we know about Uranus came from the NASA Voyager 2 spacecraft’s flyby of the planet in 1986. Uranus has nine major rings and 27 known moons. This image, taken in infrared light, reveals cloud structures not normally visible to human eyes. Methane gas in the upper atmosphere absorbs red light, giving the planet its blue-green color. Uranus is spinning on its side, probably because of a collision with a large object early in the Solar System's history. Image Credit: California Association For Research In Astronomy/Science Photo Library
  • Researching in FETTSS & beyond Who are we attracting in these “everyday situations”? More incidental visitors than intentional visitors with public science? Less-science-initiated audience than science centers/planetariums? Do participants follow up with local science center, library or other resources? Is there any reshaping of the participant ’s identity (or non-identity) with science through public science?
  • FETTSS is tied to NASA ’s Year of the Solar System that runs from October 2010 through August 2012.
  • The somewhat older age for NASM is reflective of a family audience that would be visiting the Smithsonian museums.
  • The range of responses across sites was similar. The slightly higher number from CFU may reflect the academic setting. There were a number of comments that the respondents were specifically interested in, or studying astronomy. CFU “I am an astronomy graduate student so most of the information is review.” CFU “Already fascinated with astronomy…” CFU “I enjoy information on astronomy….”
  • These responses correlate with question 11 (see below) – which shows that CFU had the highest percentage of people who visited the exhibit because they were interested in astronomy.   There is also some correlation for the NASM site. Respondents had a similar rating of knowledge to CFU and the highest percentage of responses in the “like learning about science” category, supporting a population already engaged in visiting science museums.   These two sites had the two lowest ratings in the “was passing by” category.
  • There is a great deal of consistency of responses. The slightly lower repsonses in the “learned nothing/learned a lot” is somewhat impacted by people who commented that they already were knowledgeable about astronomy. Additionally. It may be that the biggest impact is from an aesthetic experience based on the higher ratings in the “like/disliked” and the “boring/fascinating” categories.        
  • There is much consistency in the responses across the categories. Comments indicated that in some cases, people were already interested in these activities. Much more evaluation is needed – digitizing the remaining sites as a start of course. Longer term, longitudinal studies would be really helpful.
  • Currently researching project ideas to extend FETTU concept outside of “astronomy only” to include and branch out towards and provide connections to chemistry, environmental science, earth science, art, etc. Shown here are new projects in various stages of progression. Chemisty & the Cosmos, how astronomy uses the periodic table 2 art & science projects: The recently launched “Coloring Space” online exhibition Small exhibit called “High Energy Process: Looking Back, Seeing Through” that explores the use of X-rays in astronomy and in historical art research, recently circulated in the US. Here, there & everywhere: A look at physics in the world near & far
  • New project: Here, There, & Everywhere (HTE) Compares phenomena on Earth to those in space Capitalize on eye-catching visuals (FETTU/FETTSS) with the power of analogy in public spaces (libraries, malls, etc.) First exhibits launched in September 2012
  • Light That Does Not Pass You are relaxing with a book on a nice sunny day when a friend leans over your shoulder and the page goes dark. “ Hey, you’re blocking my light!” It is a familiar experience. Any time an object blocks the light from another source, it forms a shadow.
  • Where the Wind Blows Winds can move particles from one place to another. On Earth, winds can blow briefly during a storm, and over long time scales, as in the jet stream. Winds have also been detected over long time scales, as in the jet stream. Winds have also been detected on other planets, in the space between stars, and in galaxies.
  • ZAP! You shuffle along a carpet, reach out to touch a doorknob and—zap!—a sudden flow of current, or electric discharge, gives you a mild shock. The cause? Friction between your feet and the carpet built up negative electric charge on your body. Electric discharges can occur wherever there is a large build-up of electric charge, and can create spectacular displays of sudden energy release on Earth and in space.
  • Atomic Light Show Atoms, the building blocks of matter, are constantly in motion, moving around at speeds that are thousands of miles per hour at room temperatures, and millions of miles per hour behind a supernova shock wave. In a collision of an atom with another atom, or with a free-roaming electron, energy can be transferred to the atom. This extra energy can then be released in the form of a light wave.
  • Bent Light What happens when light is bent? When light passes from one type of material to another, its path can be bent and the original image is distorted. Environments from eyeglasses to massive galaxies can cause lensing to take place.
  • FETTSS is tied to NASA ’s Year of the Solar System that runs from October 2010 through August 2012.

Spanning the Spectrum with Public Science Spanning the Spectrum with Public Science Presentation Transcript

  • PUBLIC SCIENCE Spanning the Spectrum with PUBLIC SCIENCE Kimberly Kowal Arcand • September 28, 2012 Chandra X-ray Center/Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory Cambridge, MA USA
  • PUBLIC SCIENCE NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory Orbits ~1/3 of the way to the moon. Studies the high-energy regions of the Universe including black holes, exploding stars and colliding galaxies.
  • PUBLIC SCIENCE Chandra has imaged the spectacular, glowing remains of exploded stars, and taken spectra showing the dispersal of elements. Chandra has observed the region around the supermassive black hole in the center of our Milky Way, and found black holes across the Universe. Chandra has traced the separation of dark matter from normal matter in the collision of galaxies in a cluster and is contributing to both dark matter and dark energy studies. As its mission continues, Chandra will continue to discover startling new science about our high- energy Universe.
  • PUBLIC SCIENCE Electromagnetic Spectrum & NASA’s Great Observatories
  • PUBLIC SCIENCEChandra Digital & Online ProjectsDiversifyingSocial media & mobile platforms: Blogs,Photo Blog, Podcasts (HD), Twitter,YouTube, FB; Space scoop for kids; Signlanguage; audio files for Braille projects.Longevity6,000 public images fully tagged withmetadata/AVM (GoogleSky, MicrosoftWWT, Flickr, etc.)EngagementTopic-based content portals (LearnAbout Black Holes, SNR-), Interactiveweb & 3D (Cas A), openFits, user ratings,etc.MultimodalMulti-user multi-touch platforms(such as MS Surface) Kim Arcand
  • PUBLIC SCIENCEResearch and Methodologies: Aesthetics & AstronomyStudying the public’s perception and understanding of astronomical imagery across multipletraditional and non-traditional venues and platforms, including mobile and web platforms. Kim Arcand
  • PUBLIC SCIENCEResearch questions:• How much do variations in presentation of color, explanation,and scale affect comprehension of astronomical images?• What are the differences between various populations (experts,novices, students) in terms of what they learn from the images?• What misconceptions do the non-experts have aboutastronomy and the images they are exposed to?Does presentation have an effect – whether aesthetic orin terms of learning?
  • PUBLIC SCIENCEOutcomes:• Providing context for the image is critical to comprehension.• Experts prefer text that is shorter/to the point; novices prefernarrative expository style to accompany image.• A sense of scale with the images is helpful for comprehensionat all levels of expertise.• Experts and novices view the images differently. Novicesbegin with a sense of awe/wonder, and focus first on theaesthetic qualities. Experts wonder how the image wasproduced, what information is being presented in the image,and what the creators of the image wanted to convey.• Experts are much more likely to view blue as hot than arenovices; about 80% of novices see red as hot compared to60% of experts.R
  • PUBLIC SCIENCEApplying the results in Chandra EPO products:
  • PUBLIC SCIENCE Latest data analysis includes evidence for understanding the effectiveness of an astronomy exhibition in terms of gauging how much visitors have learned; what type of story format may be best for engaging the visitor/participant learning; and what type of platform may be best for implementation. To be submitted, Curator Papers/articles at http://astroart.cfa.harvard.edu/
  • PUBLIC SCIENCE From Earth to the Universe (FETTU) – www.fromearthtotheuniverse.org – IYA 2009 cornerstone project – Unique model for astronomy outreach: • Distributed Curation • Global to Local Methodology • Non-traditional locations for astronomy outreach
  • PUBLIC SCIENCE FETTU results were inspiring: Over 1000 locations in ~70 countries (translated into over 40 languages) Still ongoing in 2012.
  • PUBLIC SCIENCE Public art “ artwork that has been planned and executed with the specific intention of being sited or staged in the physical public domain, usually outside and accessible to all.” Below: The Gates by Christo and Jean-Claude; Big Yellow Rabbit by Florentijn Hofman; Cloud Gate by Anish Kapoo
  • PUBLIC SCIENCE Equivalent for science? Public science = “science outreach that has been conducted outdoors or in another type of public or accessible space such as a public park, metro stop, library etc. with the intention of engaging the public.”
  • PUBLIC SCIENCE Past examples include: • Science City (New York: 1994-1995) • Science on the Buses (UK, Canada, others) • Science Festivals: – Long tradition of these in European & other countries. – US catching on: USA Science & Engineering Festival, World Science Festival, etc.
  • PUBLIC SCIENCE From Earth to the Universe (FETTU) – www.fromearthtotheuniverse.org – IYA 2009 cornerstone project – Unique model for astronomy outreach: • Distributed Curation • Global to Local Methodology
  • PUBLIC SCIENCE FETTU results were inspiring: over 1000 locations in over 70 countries (text translated into over 40 languages.) Images courtesy of the From Earth to the Universe project
  • PUBLIC SCIENCE From Earth to the Solar System (FETTSS) – A collection of 90 images that cover astronomy, astrobiology, and planetary science – ~100 FETTSS sites worldwide – http://fettss.arc.nasa.gov/ for the locations map, event photos, free materials.
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  • PUBLIC SCIENCE• Researching in FETTSS & beyond – Who are we attracting in these – Do participants follow up “everyday situations”? with local science center, • More incidental visitors than library or other resources? intentional visitors with public – Is there any reshaping of the science? participant’s identity (or non- • Less-science-initiated audience identity) with science through than science public science? centers/planetariums?
  • PUBLIC SCIENCE• Preliminary data analysis (4/7 sites so far) – Corpus Christi, Texas: Mall (CC) – National Air and Space Museum, Washington DC: Outside on the National Mall (NASM) – Central Florida University: Campus Library (CFU) – Kansas City, Missouri: Union Station train station (KC) = Slightly younger audience than Chandra web site average, rated selves more novice in astronomy knowledge, more incidental visitors than those looking for astronomy, small learning gains, and increased interest.
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  • PUBLIC SCIENCEAstronomy + Researching projects to take a more holistic view of astronomy, including and branching out towards chemistry, environmental science, earth science, art, etc. Kim Arcand
  • PUBLIC SCIENCEHolistic Approach. Here, There, & Everywhere(HTE) – Compares phenomena across scale (micro to macro) – Capitalize on eye-catching visuals with the power of analogy in public spaces (libraries, malls, etc.) – First exhibits launched in September 2012. – http://hte.si.edu
  • PUBLIC SCIENCE Light That Does Not Pass You are relaxing with a book on a nice sunny day when a friend leans over your shoulder and the page goes dark. “Hey, you’re blocking my light!” It is a familiar experience. Any time an object blocks the light from another source, it forms a shadow.
  • PUBLIC SCIENCE Where the Wind Blows Winds can move particles from one place to another. On Earth, winds can blow briefly during a storm, and over long time scales, as in the jet stream. Winds have also been detected over long time scales, as in the jet stream. Winds have also been detected on other planets, in the space between stars, and in galaxies.
  • PUBLIC SCIENCE ZAP! You shuffle along a carpet, reach out to touch a doorknob and— zap!—a sudden flow of current, or electric discharge, gives you a mild shock. The cause? Friction between your feet and the carpet built up negative electric charge on your body. Electric discharges can occur wherever there is a large build-up of electric charge, and can create spectacular displays of sudden energy release on Earth and in space.
  • PUBLIC SCIENCE Atomic Light Show Atoms, the building blocks of matter, are constantly in motion, moving around at speeds that are thousands of miles per hour at room temperatures, and millions of miles per hour behind a supernova shock wave. In a collision of an atom with another atom, or with a free-roaming electron, energy can be transferred to the atom. This extra energy can then be released in the form of a light wave.
  • PUBLIC SCIENCE Bent Light What happens when light is bent? When light passes from one type of material to another, its path can be bent and the original image is distorted. Environments from eyeglasses to massive galaxies can cause lensing to take place. Because what happens here, happens there, happens everywhere. http://hte.si.edu/light
  • PUBLIC SCIENCE Spring 2013. FETTU & FETTSS in book form
  • PUBLIC SCIENCE Public science on Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_science Arcand, K.K., Watzke, M., “Creating Public Science with the From Earth to the Universe Project” Science Communication. Vol 33(3) 398–407, Sept. 2011. kkowal@cfa.harvard.edu Twitter: @kimberlykowal http://yourtickettotheuniverse.com