Category Archives: science communication

Canada wide Science Odyssey May 1 – 16, 2021

This coming Saturday, May 1, 2021 is the start of Canada’s annual Science Odyssey (the rebranded Canada Science and Technology Week). These days the exercise is funded through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada’s (NSERC) science promotion (PromoScience) programme.

Let’s move on to the important things: Science Odyssey runs from May 1 – 16, 2021. You can find the events listed here on the Science Odyssey website. where you will find them listed by date. (I was not able to use the filters to narrow down my searches to a geographic area or topic but perhaps your system is more up-to-date than mine.)

You can check out the @Sci_Od Twitter feed or the @OdySci hash tag for tips about events,

Science Odyssey @Sci_Od· [April 26, 2021] Marine invertebrates are getting a close-up on May 5th for #OdySci with @MaritimeMusBC!

Maritime Museum BC @MaritimeMusBC · 1h Marine invertebrates are getting a close-up on May 5th at 10 AM PDT for @Sci_Od. Join @Ocean_Networks for a virtual presentation with MMBC and friends from @BamfieldMSC @FisheriesTrust and @SalishSeaCentre Register for FREE: http://sciod.ca/event/2606/ #KnowTheOcean #MuseumAtHome

Science Rendezvous on May 8, 2021 (part of Science Odyssey)

This year, Science Rendezvous, an annual family festival, is being held on Saturday, May 8, 2021. Here’s a description of this year’s event from the About page,

Science Rendezvous will STEAM Green Saturday, May 8, 2021, and you are invited to the first ever virtual Science Chase.  Race between event sites across the country, answer STEAM challenges, learn about Canadian research and innovations along with the art in Science, and collect points for the national Science Chase leaderboard.  This FREE kick-off festival for Science Odyssey week will be the most fun your family will have with science all year!

In typical years, Science Rendezvous takes science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) research and innovation out of the lab and onto the street in true festival style for you to discover and experience. Stage shows, robotics, virtual reality, INVENTours, large-scales experiments and demonstrations, science buskers and Science Chase races are designed to delight and excite the young and the young at heart. Hands on experiments, make-and-take projects, and demonstrations will allow you and your family to participate, and really get in the action. Slime, liquid nitrogen ice-cream, fire tornadoes, walking on water, and explosions are some of our favourite activities! We have been busy this year reimagining these activities in a virtual way to keep us all safe.

Science Rendezvous is unique because it is created by scientists and innovators, and the next generation of STEAM students, the people who are the most passionate about STEAM.  We work with Canada’s top research institutes to present a coast-to-coast open house and festival that is FREE for everyone. With over 300 events across 30 cities and 1000’s of mind-blowing activities, Science Rendezvous is Canada’s largest celebration of the amazing feats of science and engineering happening right here at home.

This SATURDAY, MAY 8th 2021 may look a little different due to COVID-19. We are working with Canada’s greatest innovators, researchers, engineers, and scientists from 285 partner organizations to develop some very exciting events~ From the physics of rock and roll to the chemistry of ice-cream, Science Rendezvous has something for everyone!

As for the inspirational video on the Science Rendezvous About page, I had a flashback to a time when Canadian items of interest on television or Canadian educational movies shown in class were narrated by a man with an English accent or a man with a Canadian dainty accent. From the Canadian English entry on Wikipedia,

Historically, Canadian English included a class-based sociolect known as Canadian dainty.[33] Treated as a marker of upper-class prestige in the 19th and early 20th centuries, Canadian dainty was marked by the use of some features of British English pronunciation, resulting in an accent similar, but not identical, to the Mid-Atlantic accent known in the United States.[33] This accent faded in prominence following World War II, when it became stigmatized as pretentious, and is now almost never heard in modern Canadian life outside of archival recordings used in film, television or radio documentaries. [emphasis mine][33]

Getting back to the events, here’s the Science Rendezvous website where you can find this list of virtual events being held from now to May 14, 2021. BTW, I found this listing easier to navigate and more informative than the one on the Science Odyssey website.

“Wolves, Livestock, and the Physical and Social Environments,” an April 14, 2021 event in celebration of Italian Research in the World Day

ARPICO (Society of Italian Researchers & Professionals in Western Canada) is presenting a pre-celebration event to honour Italian Research in the World Day (April 15, 2021). Take special note: the event is being held the day before.

Before launching into the announcement, bravo to the organizers! ARPICO consistently offers the most comprehensive details about their events of any group that contacts me. One more thing, to date, they are the only group that have described which technology they’re using for the webcast and explicitly address any concerns about downloading software (you don’t have to) or about personal information. (Check out Technical Instruction here.)

Here are the details from ARPICO’s April 4, 2021 announcement (received via email),

We hope everyone is doing well and being safe while we attempt to outlast this pandemic. In the meanwhile, from the comfort of our homes, we hope to be able to continue to share with you informative lectures to entertain and stimulate thought.

It is our pleasure, in collaboration with the Consulate General of Italy in Vancouver, to announce that ARPICO’s next public event will be held on April 14th, 2021 at 7:00 PM, in celebration of Italian Research in the World Day. Italian Research in the World Day was instituted starting in 2018 as part of the Piano Straordinario “Vivere all’Italiana” – Giornata della ricerca Italiana nel mondo. The celebration day was chosen by government decree to be every year on April 15 on the anniversary of the birth of Leonardo da Vinci.

The main objective of the Italian Research Day in the World is to value the quality and competencies of Italian researchers abroad, but also to promote concrete actions and investments to allow Italian researchers to continue pursuing their careers in their homeland. Italy wishes to enable Italian talents to return from abroad as well as to become an attractive environment for foreign researchers.

This year we are pleased to have Professor Marco Musiani, an academic in biological sciences, share with us a lecture titled “Wolves, Livestock, and the Physical and Social Environments.” An abstract and short professional biography are provided below.

We have chosen BlueJeans as the videoconferencing platform, for which you will only require a web browser (Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari, Opera are all supported). Full detailed instructions on how the virtual event will unfold are available on the EventBrite listing here in the Technical Instruction section.

If participants wish to donate to ARPICO, this can be done within EventBrite; this would be greatly appreciated in order to help us continue to build upon our scholarship fund, and to defray the cost of the videoconferencing license.

We look forward to seeing everyone there.

The evening agenda is as follows:

  • 6:45PM – BlueJeans Presentation link becomes active and registrants may join.
    • If you experience any technical details please email us at info@arpico.ca and we will attempt to assist you as best we can.
  • 7:00pm – Start of the evening Event with introductions & lecture by Prof. Marco Musiani
  • ~8:00 pm – Q & A Period via BlueJeans Chat Interface

If you have not already done so, please register for the event by visiting the EventBrite link or RSVPing to info@arpico.ca.

Further details are also available at arpico.ca and Eventbrite.

Wolves, Livestock, and the Physical and Social Environments

Due primarily to wolf predation on livestock (depredation), some groups oppose wolf (Canis lupus) conservation, which is an objective for large sectors of the public. Prof. Musiani’s talk will compare wolf depredation of sheep in Southern Europe to wolf depredation of beef cattle in the US and Canada, taking into account the differences in social and economic contexts. It will detail where and when wolf attacks happen, and what environmental factors promote such attacks. Livestock depredation by wolves is a cost of wolf conservation borne by livestock producers, which creates conflict between producers, wolves and organizations involved in wolf conservation and management. Compensation is the main tool used to mitigate the costs of depredation, but this tool may be limited at improving tolerance for wolves. In poorer countries compensation funds might not be available. Other lethal and nonlethal tools used to manage the problem will also be analysed. Wolf depredation may be a small economic cost to the industry, although it may be a significant cost to affected producers as these costs are not equitably distributed across the industry. Prof. Musiani maintains that conservation groups should consider the potential consequences of all of these ecological and economic trends. Specifically, declining sheep or cattle price and the steady increase in land price might induce conversion of agricultural land to rural-residential developments, which could negatively impact the whole environment via large scale habitat change and increased human presence.

Marco Musiani is a Professor in the Dept. of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Calgary. He also has a Joint Appointment with the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Calgary. His lab has a strong focus on landscape ecology, molecular ecology, and wildlife conservation.

Marco is Principal Investigator on projects on caribou, elk, moose, wolves, grizzlies and other wildlife species throughout the Rocky Mountains and Foothills regions of Canada. All such projects are run together with graduate students and have applications towards impact assessment, mainly of human infrastructure.

His focus is on academic matters. However, he also serves as reviewer for research and management projects, and acted as a consultant for the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (working on conflicts with wolves).

WHEN (EVENT): Wed, April 14th, 2021 at 7:00PM (BlueJeans link active at 6:45PM)

WHERE: Online using the BlueJeans Conferencing platform.

RSVP: Please register for tickets at EventBrite

Tickets are Needed

Tickets for this event are FREE. Due to limited seating at the venue, we ask that each household register once and watch the presentation together on a single device.       You will receive the event videoconferencing invite link via email in your registration confirmation.

FAQs

  • Where can I contact the organizer with any questions? info@arpico.ca
  • Can I update my registration information? Yes. If you have any questions, contact us at info@arpico.ca
  • I am having trouble using EventBrite and cannot reserve my ticket(s). Can someone at ARPICO help me with my ticket reservation? Of course, simply send your ticket request to us at info@arpico.ca so we help you.

You can find the programme announcement on this ARPICO event page.

eBOSS maps the universe: a Perimeter Institute (PI) webcast on April 7, 2021

This video features information about eBOSS from a number of researchers including Will Percival, the speaker on the April 7, 2021 PI webcast,

From an April 2, 2021 PI notice (received via email),

Mapping the Universe with eBOSS
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 7 [2021] at 7 pm ET

As Douglas Adams correctly wrote in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, “Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the drug store, but that’s just peanuts to space.”

Few people understand the vastness of space as well as Will Percival. Percival is a cosmologist working primarily on galaxy surveys, using the positions of galaxies to measure the cosmological expansion rate and growth of cosmological structure. He is the Survey Scientist for the extended Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (eBOSS), which created the largest three-dimensional map of the universe ever made using the positions of millions of galaxies and quasars dating back roughly 11 billion years.

In his April 7 [2021] Perimeter Public Lecture webcast, Percival will aim to help the audience grasp the enormity of space using the latest results from eBOSS, exploring the profound insights they provide into the physics of our universe.

You can watch the webcast on April 7, 2021 at 4 pm PT (7 pm ET) here on the Mapping the Universe with eBOSS event page.

Cambridge Science Festival April 2021: 30 Days of Science

First, this Cambridge is in Massachusetts, US. The US festival was started in 2007 by John Durant, Director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Museum (see the MIT Museum Wikipedia entry for more information).

There’s also this from the Cambridge Science Festival website About Us webpage,

The Cambridge Science Festival, the first of its kind in the United States, is a celebration showcasing the leading edge in science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM).  A multifaceted, multicultural event, the Festival makes science accessible, interactive and fun, highlighting the impact of STEAM in all our lives.

For the 2021 Festival, recognizing social distancing will be in place as we begin to emerge from the pandemic,  we will celebrate STEAM in our community with an overarching theme of gratitude and appreciation. During the month of April 2021, we will showcase creative digital and virtual entries from our rich STEAM community, and celebrate with public displays of appreciation and gratitude. Stay tuned and get involved!

Modeled on art, music, and movie festivals, the Cambridge Science Festival offers activities, demonstrations, workshops, tours, debates, contests, talks, and behind-the-scene glimpses to illuminate the richness of scientific inquiry and the excitement of discovery.

The 2021 festival is offering the 30 Days of Science Challenge!

This year, Cambridge Science Festival is celebrating science for the entire month of April. Join us!

Our challenge to you: 30 Days of Science.

Each day, we’ll share a simple prompt with content and events developed exclusively by the Cambridge Science Festival community. Spend a few minutes a day exploring the offerings, connecting with cool scientists, & learning new things!

Or choose your own adventure! Want to learn about a new native bird each day? Maybe perfect your daily coffee routine with science? Ready to learn about 30 exoplanets?

We want to learn with you. We’re here to keep you accountable & cheer you on. Take the pledge — share your discoveries, fun facts, & new questions with us through #30DaysofScience.

Let’s get nerdy!

I’m In

The 2021 (US) Cambridge Science Festival starting April 1 has its website here and the 2021 (UK) Cambridge Science Festival 26 March to April 4 has its here.

h/t: @ArtBioCollab (Twitter) for their tweet about the (US) Cambridge Science Festival. You can also find their website here.

COVID-19 infection as a dance of molecules

What a great bit of work, publicity-wise, from either or both the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto (Canada) and artist/scientist Radha Chaddah. IAM (ee-yam): Dance of the Molecules, a virtual performance installation featuring COVID-19 and molecular dance, has been profiled in the Toronto Star, on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) website, and in the Globe and Mail within the last couple of weeks. From a Canadian perspective, that’s major coverage and much of it national.

Bruce DeMara’s March 11, 2021 article for the Toronto Star introduces artist/scientist Radha Chaddah, her COVID-19 dance of molecules, and her team (Note: A link has been removed),

Visual artist Radha Chaddah has always had an abiding interest in science. She has a degree in biology and has done graduate studies in stem cell research.

[…] four-act dance performance; the first part “IAM: Dance of the Molecules” premiered as a digital exhibition on the Aga Khan Museum’s website March 5 [2021] and runs for eight weeks. Subsequent acts — human, planetary and universal, all using the COVID virus as an entry point — will be unveiled over the coming months until the final instalment in December 2022.

Among Chaddah’s team were Allie Blumas and the Open Fortress dance collective — who perform as microscopic components of the virus’s proliferation, including “spike” proteins, A2 receptors and ribosomes — costumiers Call and Response (who designed for the late Prince), director of photography Henry Sansom and composer Dan Bédard (who wrote the film’s music after observing the dance rehearsals remotely).

A March 5, 2021 article by Leah Collins for CBC online offers more details (Note: Links have been removed),

This month, the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto is debuting new work from local artist Radha Chaddah. Called IAM, this digital exhibition is actually the first act in a series of four short films that she aims to produce between now and the end of 2022. It’s a “COVID story,” says Chaddah, but one that offers a perspective beyond the anniversary of its impact on life and culture and toilet-paper consumption. “I wanted to present a piece that makes people think about the coronavirus in a different way,” she explains, “one that pulls them out of the realm of fear and puts our imaginations into the realm of curiosity.”

It’s scientific curiosity that Chaddah’s talking about, and her own extra-curricular inquiries first sparked the series. For several years, Chaddah has produced work that splices art and science, a practice she began while doing grad studies in molecular neurobiology. “If I had to describe it simply, I would say that I make art about invisible realities, often using the tools of research science,” she says, and in January of last year, she was gripped by news of the novel coronavirus’ discovery. 

“I started researching: reading research papers, looking into how it was that [the virus] actually affected the human body,” she says. “How does it get into the cells? What’s its replicative life cycle?” Chaddah wanted a closer look at the structure of the various molecules associated with the progression of COVID-19 in the body, and there is, it turns out, a trove of free material online. Using animated 3-D renderings (sourced from this digital database), Chaddah began reviewing the files: blowing them up with a video projector, and using the trees in her own backyard as “a kind of green, living stage.”

Part one of IAM (the film appearing on the Aga Khan’s website) is called “Dance of the Molecules.” Recorded on Chaddah’s property in September, it features two dancers: Allie Blumas (who choreographed the piece) and Lee Gelbloom. Their bodies, along with the leafy setting, serve as a screen for Chaddah’s projections: a swirl of firecracker colour and pattern, built from found digital models. Quite literally, the viewer is looking at an illustration of how the coronavirus infects the human body and then replicates. (The very first images, for example, are close-ups of the virus’ spiky surface, she explains.) And in tandem with this molecular drama, the dancers interpret the process. 

There is a brief preview,

To watch part 1 of IAM: Dance of the Molecules, go here to the Aga Khan Museum.

Enjoy!

Being a bit curious I looked up Radha Chaddah’s website and found this on her Bio webpage (click on About tab for the dropdown menu from the Home page),

Radha Chaddah is a Toronto based visual artist and scientist. Born in Owen Sound, Ontario she studied Film and Art History at Queen’s University (BAH), and Human Biology at the University of Toronto, where she received a Master of Science in Cell and Molecular Neurobiology. 

Chaddah makes art about invisible realities like the cellular world, electromagnetism and wave form energy, using light as her primary medium.  Her work examines the interconnected themes of knowledge, illusion, desire and the unseen world. In her studio she designs projected light installations for public exhibition. In the laboratory, she uses the tools of research science to grow and photograph cells using embedded fluorescent light-emitting molecules. Her cell photographs and light installations have been exhibited across Canada and her photographs have appeared in numerous publications.  She has lectured on basic cell and stem cell biology for artists, art students and the public at OCADU [Ontario College of Art & Design University], the Ontario Science Centre, the University of Toronto and the Textile Museum of Canada.

I also found Call and Response here, the Open Fortress dance collective on the Centre de Création O Vertigo website, Henry Sansom here, and Dan Bedard here. Both Bedard and Sansom can be found on the Internet Move Database (IMDB.com), as well.

Urania Day (celebrating women in the arts and sciences) on March 16, 2021

I sometimes get notices from unexpected sources for science and technology events. On Tuesday, March 9, 2021, I received a notice from an agency about Urania Day (March 16, 2021) celebrating women in the arts and sciences during (US) Women’s History Month. What made the notice unusual is that the agency was representing Ophira and Tali Edut of AstroStyle, an astrology website.

Astrologers like Galileo, Kepler, Tycho and others

I realize that for a lot people, astrology is a pseudoscience but what is often missed, according to some observers, is that astrology has provided the basis for current astronomy and physics.

Dr . Rebekah Higgott who was Curator of History of Science and Technology at the National Maritime Museum and the Royal Observatory, Greenwich from 2008 – 2013 wrote a thoughtful January 28, 2011 post about astrology and science on Martin Robbins’ Guardian science blog,

Like Martin, I heard about the astrologers’ petition to the BBC and blogged about it, together with another astrology-related story that recently hit the headlines. Unlike him, I was critical of the knee-jerk response of many scientists, science writers and fans of science. I also had some quibbles about his post, so I’d like to start by thanking him for hosting this – and, before you leap to the comments section, making it clear that I do not believe in astrology. However, I do believe that a little knowledge and understanding can help the cause of science communication far more than ridicule.

As is well known to readers of The Lay Scientist, the Astrological Association, prompted by remarks made by Brian Cox and Dara O’Briain, has asked for “fair and balanced representation” (note, not “equal representation”). This has resulted in widespread derision from those who can see nothing wrong with stating that “astrology is rubbish” and “nonsense”. Most, however, have failed to understand exactly what has annoyed these astrologers, or to take the time to find out what astrology actually is.

The Astrological Association is not complaining about a statement such as this. Rather, they consider it unfair that they are represented as having no knowledge of the astronomy and celestial mechanics that Cox and O’Briain are paid to explain on TV. They are annoyed that astrology is considered to consist solely of those who read and write newspaper horoscopes. Serious astrologers often have an excellent understanding of, and respect for, astronomy. They are, in fact, a not insignificant audience for astronomy programmes, lectures and books.

Which brings me to the history: a little historical understanding should make astronomers and science communicators realise that practising astrologers are likely to have good knowledge of planetary motions. Up until the late 17th century, astrology and astronomy were deeply interconnected. [emphasis mine] …

Do read the rest of Higgott’s post for the mentions of Galileo, Kepler, Tycho, and more.

Astrology lays the foundation for data science?

Alexander Boxer’s 2020 book “A Scheme of Heaven: The History of Astrology and the Search for Our Destiny in Data” might seem a bit fanciful. Interestingly, it was discussed by Jonathan Keats in a January 15, 2020 book review for the New Scientist and a January 17, 2020 book review by Steven Vanden Broeck for Science Magazine (Science  17 Jan 2020: Vol. 367, Issue 6475, pp. 255 DOI: 10.1126/science.aaz9644). Both of these reviews are behind paywalls. (There is an open access summary of Vanden Broeck’s review mentioned later in this subsection.)

Here’s more about the book from publisher W. W. Norton’s webpage for A Scheme of Heaven,

An illuminating look at the surprising history and science of astrology, civilization’s first system of algorithms, from Babylon to the present day.

Humans are pattern-matching creatures, and astrology is the universe’s grandest pattern-matching game. In this refreshing work of history and analysis, data scientist Alexander Boxer examines classical texts on astrology to expose its underlying scientific and mathematical framework. Astrology, he argues, was the ancient world’s most ambitious applied mathematics problem, a monumental data-analysis enterprise sustained by some of history’s most brilliant minds, from Ptolemy to al-Kindi to Kepler.

Thousands of years ago, astrologers became the first to stumble upon the powerful storytelling possibilities inherent in numerical data. To correlate the configurations of the cosmos with our day-to-day lives, astrologers relied upon a “scheme of heaven,” or horoscope, showing the precise configuration of the planets at a particular instant in time as viewed from a particular place on Earth. Although recognized as pseudoscience today, horoscopes were once considered a cutting-edge scientific tool. Boxer teaches us how to read these esoteric charts—and appreciate the complex astronomical calculations needed to generate them—by diagramming how the heavens appeared at important moments in astrology’s history, from the assassination of Julius Caesar as viewed from Rome to the Apollo 11 lunar landing as seen from the surface of the Moon. He then puts these horoscopes to the test using modern data sets and statistical science, arguing that today’s data scientists do work similar to astrologers of yore. By looking back at the algorithms of ancient astrology, he suggests, we can better recognize the patterns that are timeless characteristics of our own pattern-matching tendencies.

At once critical, rigorous, and far ranging, A Scheme of Heaven recontextualizes astrology as a vast, technological project—spanning continents and centuries—that foreshadowed our data-driven world today.

I had problems finding Boxer’s credentials, he’s described as a physicist and/or data scientist. Most unusually he does not fully tout his credentials on his eponymous website or anywhere, it seems. Based on a reference to an Alex Boxer in a January 26, 2010 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) news release, he has a PhD in physics from MIT (this excerpt is from the second paragraph from the bottom),

… A newly installed microwave interferometer array, developed by MIT graduate student Alex Boxer PhD ‘09 [emphasis mine], was used to make the precision measurements of the plasma concentrations that were used to observe the turbulent pinch.

Getting to the open access summary, Science magazine published this brief of Steven Vanden Broecke’s book review in a January 14, 2020 highlight,

Alexander Boxer, a professional data scientist, knows a thing or two about distilling patterns from big data. Surrounded by constant, endless streams of information, humans are pattern-matching animals, and astrology, he claims, “is the universe’s grandest pattern-matching game.”

The book also exposes readers to the rigor of statistical analysis. Here, Boxer applies his knowledge of statistics to some of the most enduring and fascinating patterns that astrology educed from its constant comparisons between heavenly and terrestrial events. This combination of topics is usually the preserve of critics, who like to mobilize analyses of astrology’s conceptual apparatus, history, and statistical soundness to demonstrate the art’s vacuity. …

A Scheme of Heaven—like all good history writing—turns its subject into a mirror. (In the words of the Roman poet Horatius, “the story is told about you.”) Statistics, Boxer shows, not only debunk astrology’s claims, they confirm that some of our most private behavior happens in step with cosmic rhythms today. History not only documents a distant past, it shows how intimately some of our most prestigious scientific traditions really are—as Johannes Kepler argued—the children of this foolish daughter. And like astrology, the patterns that data science reveals turn out to hinge on far more interpretation than we might like. Boxer points out, for example, how the contemporary combination of big data with machine-learning algorithms is rapidly creating a rift between empirical forecasting models and causal understanding—exactly the kind of rift that has often been invoked to criticize astrology.

And now:

Purple hair, Caroline Herschel, and Urania Day

March 16 was chosen as Urania Day to honour Caroline Herschel, an astronomer with an extraordinary history as is made clear in the Urania Day notice,

Urania Day, March 16, to celebrate girls and women in arts and science

during Women’s History Month

Named for the Greek Muse of astronomy, Urania Day falls on the birthday
of groundbreaking astronomer Caroline Herschel, who co-discovered Uranus

Supporters are encouraged to dye their hair purple like the ‘violet-haired’ Muses
to champion the visibility of women in the arts and sciences

#UraniaDay #MarchMuse @astrotwins

NEW YORK – March 5, 2021 – Ophira and Tali Edut, twin founders of astrology multimedia brand AstroStyle, along with astrologer Matthew Swann, have established a new galaxywide holiday: Urania Day. Occurring annually on March 16, birthday of astronomy pioneer Caroline Herschel, and named for the Muse of astronomy, Urania Day’s purpose is to encourage girls and women to literally reach for the stars through science, math and technology.

Urania, the Muse of astronomy in Greek Mythology“As female ‘astropreneurs’ — successful business owners in a creative field — ourselves, my sister Tali and I have been on a mission to empower girls and women since we established AstroStyle in the early 2000s,” explained Ophira, whose website garners more than 10 million pageviews each month. “With Urania Day, we seek to honor the lesser-known, under-credited and virtually forgotten female mavericks of the arts and sciences — starting with Caroline Herschel — and use their stories to inspire today’s young people.”

The Urania Day founders invite any supporters of their mission to be a #MarchMuse and post an image of themselves with purple hair (extensions, wigs and creative dye welcome!) or to share a purple-tinted selfie with the hashtags #UraniaDay and #MarchMuse.

Caroline Herschel, born March 16, 1750, was the younger sister of Sir William Herschel. They both left careers in music to indulge their mutual passion for astronomy and telescope-making. It was Caroline who possessed the craftsmanship to grind and polish their telescope mirrors by hand, and facilitated her brother’s accidental discovery of the planet Uranus on March 13, 1781 using a homemade 6.2-inch reflecting telescope. Beyond this historic accomplishment, Caroline was the first woman to discover a comet, discovering eight comets and three nebulae over the course of her career. She was also the first woman to receive a salary as a scientist, to hold to government position in England, to publish findings in the scientific journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, to be awarded a Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society (1828), and to be named an Honorary Member of the Royal Astronomical Society (1835, along with Mary Somerville). Caroline also created catalogs of astronomical discoveries that are still in use today. [emphasis mine]

“Uranus the planet was named for Uranus the ancient god of the heavens,” explained Tali. “He was the great-grandfather of Urania and her sisters, the Nine Muses, who were — are — the patron goddesses of the arts and sciences. It’s each Muse’s job to inspire humanity in her area of expertise.”

Visitors to UraniaDay.com are invited to Choose the Muse they most closely relate to:  Urania (astronomy), Clio (history and the guitar), Melpomene (tragedy and rhetoric), Thalia (comedy, geometry, architecture and agriculture), Terpsichore (dance and education), Calliope (epic poetry, inspired The Iliad and The Odyssey), Erato (love poetry), Polyhymnia (grammar, geometry, hymns and mimic art), or Euterpe (lyric poetry).

“Artists are known to ‘invoke the Muse’ when they sit down to write or paint,” she added. “We all invoke the Muse regularly when we use words derived from their name, like ‘music,’ ‘musings’ and ‘amusement.'”

The AstroTwins have also restyled Caroline Herschel’s Urania’s Mirror constellation deck as an all-ages coloring book, which can be downloaded as a free PDF on the Urania Day website.

About The AstroTwins

Identical twin sisters Ophira and Tali Edut, known as the AstroTwins, are professional astrologers who reach millions worldwide. Through their website Astrostyle, and as the official astrologers for ELLE magazine, they bring the stars down to Earth with their lifestyle- and coaching-based approach to horoscopes. They’ve created astrology sections for multiple media properties, including Refinery29, Parade and Lifetime TV. Bestselling authors, they have written a collection of books, including AstroStyle, Love Zodiac and Momstrology (their #1 Amazon bestselling parenting guide), and their own brand imprint annual horoscope guides.

The AstroTwins have been featured on Good Morning America and Today, and in The New York Times Sunday Styles, People and Vogue. They have collaborated with major brands including Coach, Zappos and Nordstrom, and cocreated the wildly successful “Signs of Love” campaign with Revlon and Refinery29. The sisters have read charts for celebrities including Beyoncé, Stevie Wonder, Karlie Kloss, Emma Roberts and Sting. They are regular guests on SiriusXM, and have appeared on Bravo’s The Real Housewives of New Jersey, doing on-air readings for the cast. Follow them at @astrotwins and on www.astrostyle.com

There’s more about Caroline Herschel in her Wikipedia entry. As for that bit about polishing the mirrors for the telescopes that feat sometimes had to be accomplished with over 24 hours of continuous work. (If memory serves, some of those mirrors took over 48 hours work without a break.) Do read Richard Holmes’ 2008 book, “The Age of Wonder: The Romantic Generation and the Discovery of the Beauty and Terror of Science,” which details the work involved in one of its chapters.

Happy Urania Day!

Toronto’s ArtSci Salon and The Mutant Project March 15, 2021

The Mutant Project is both a book (The Mutant Project: Inside the Global Race to Genetically Modify Humans) and an event about gene editing with special reference to the CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) twins, Lulu and Nana. The event is being held by Toronto’s ArtSci Salon. Here’s more from their March 3, 2021 announcement (received via email),

The Mutant Project

A talk and discussion with Eben Kirksey

Discussants:

Dr. Elizabeth Koester, Postdoctoral fellow, Department of History, UofT [University of Toronto]

Vincent Auffrey, PhD student, IHPST [Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology], UofT

Fan Zhang, PhD student, IHPST, UofT

This event will be streamed on Zoom and on Youtube

Here is the link to register to Zoom on the 15th:

https://utoronto.zoom.us/meeting/registe/tZErcemoqzwrG9foNF5Ud86uJXdNeIzQSfDw

Event on FB: https://www.facebook.com/events/4033393163381012/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEFfj3Ovsfk&feature=youtu.be

At a conference in Hong Kong in November 2018, Dr. He Jiankui announced that he had created the first genetically modified babies—twin girls named Lulu and Nana—sending shockwaves around the world. A year later, a Chinese court sentenced Dr. He to three years in prison for “illegal medical practice.”

As scientists elsewhere start to catch up with China’s vast genetic research program, gene editing is fueling an innovation economy that threatens to widen racial and economic inequality. Fundamental questions about science, health, and social justice are at stake: Who gets access to gene editing technologies? As countries loosen regulations around the globe, from the U.S. to Indonesia, can we shape research agendas to promote an ethical and fair society?

Join us to welcome Dr. Kirksey, who will discuss key topics from his book “The Mutant Project”.

The talk will be followed by a Q&A

EBEN KIRKSEY is an American anthropologist who finished his latest book as a Member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. He has been published in Wired, The Atlantic, The Guardian and The Sunday Times. He is sought out as an expert on science in society by the Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Democracy Now, Time and the BBC, among other media outlets. He speaks widely at the world’s leading academic institutions including Oxford, Yale, Columbia, UCLA, and the International Summit of Human Genome Editing, plus music festivals, art exhibits, and community events. Professor Kirksey holds a long-term position at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia. For more information, please visit https://eben-kirksey.space/.

Elizabeth Koester currently holds a SSHRC [Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada] Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Department of History at the University of Toronto. After practising law for many years, she undertook graduate studies in the history of medicine at the Institute for the History and Philosophy of
Science and Technology at the University of Toronto and was awarded a PhD in 2018. A book based on her dissertation, In the Public Good: Eugenics and Law in Ontario, will be published by McGill-Queen’s University Press and is anticipated for Fall 2021.

Vincent Auffrey is pursuing his PhD at the Institute for the History of Philosophy of Science and Technology (IHPST) at the University of Toronto. His focus is set primarily on the social history of medicine and the history of eugenics in Canada. Secondary interests include the histories of scientific racism and of anatomy, and the interplay between knowledge and power.

Fan Zhang is a PhD student at the History of Philosophy of Science and Technology (IHPST) at the University of Toronto

Kirksey’s eponymous website,