April 8th, 2008

me: ooh!

The Sky at Night #665

If solar physics excites you, I encourage you to go to the BBC's iPlayer to watch this month's "The Sky at Night."

You may have to strain a bit to interpret Patrick Moore's mumbles, but fortunately he spends most of the programme interviewing highly articulate younger scientists, including Imperial's own bouncy, happy Tim Horbury, who talks about the impending end of the Ulysses mission to study the sun and the solar wind. Ulysses has been going for 17 years, and it's the only spacecraft to have orbited the poles of the sun. As Ulysses dies, STEREO, the two-spacecraft NASA mission, has picked up the torch and is providing some fantastic 3D images of the surface of the sun as well as its interaction with extraplanetary bodies (e.g. comets). STEREO scientists are encouraging amateurs to explore the movies and images from Stereo to look for exoplanets and asteroids.

"The Sky at Night" is 20 minutes in length. The Ulysses/STEREO discussion starts about 8 minutes into the programme.

The STEREO Heliospheric Imager archive.
manning: uberbitch

Motivating Statistics of the Day

Filling out my annual assessment form today has prompted me to look up certain Imperial College policies, and while doing so I ran across the following. I keep thinking, I know everybody's probably sick of hearing and thinking about gender and ethnic inequality, but why isn't it changing? Doesn't anyone care any more? This battle started before I was even born. Why isn't it over yet?

Imperial College Diversity Statistics for 2006

Employees by gender (%)

All staff42.2%57.8%
Level 1, 2, 3 & 456.5%43.5%
Level 5 & 640.9%59.1%
Level 712.5%87.5%
Academic grades19.5%80.5%
Research grades35.4%64.6%


Level 1,2,3 and 4 is where most of my colleagues and I, who are all non-academic staff, reside. Additionally, these are statistics for staff throughout college. They are even more skewed inside the Faculties of Engineering and Natural Sciences.

Employees by ethnic origin (%)

AsianBlackChineseMixedOtherWhiteNo data
All staff7.6%3.7%4.1%1.8%1.9%75.1%5.8%
Level 1, 2, 3 & 46.7%6.8%2.7%2.3%1.9%73.9%5.7%
Level 5 & 65.8%0.8%1.6%1.6%0.8%86.8%2.7%
Level 74.2%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%95.8%0.0%
Academic grades4.6%0.3%2.9%1.2%1.2%84.5%5.2%
Research grades10.9%1.7%7.1%1.6%2.3%69.4%6.8%

I will be happy on the day when looking back and forth between the "Mixed" and "White" columns doesn't make me depressed. In the meantime, I strive to divert the energy spent on impotent fist-shaking into volunteering for outreach programmes. What else can I do?