T, 3 years old, pointing to an unfamiliar character: Who’s that guy?
Me: That’s Darth Vader.
T: He looks scary. *pauses thoughtfully* Is he a bad guy that turns into a nice guy later?
Me: *stunned silence* Um….that pretty much sums up 12 hours of movies, yeah.
The understanding of genre conventions is strong with this one.
I’ve never been female. But I have been black my whole life. I can perhaps offer some insight from that perspective. There are many similar social issues related to access to equal opportunity that we find in the black community, as well as the community of women in a white male dominate society…
When I look at — throughout my life — I’ve known that I wanted to do astrophysics since I was 9 years old…I got to see how the world around me reacted to my expressions of these ambitions. All I can say is, the fact that I wanted to be a scientist, an astrophysicist was hands down the path of most resistance through the forces of society.
Anytime I expressed this interest, teachers would say, ‘Oh, don’t you wanna be an athlete?’ I want to become someone that was outside of the paradigm of expectations of the people in power. Fortunately, my depth of interest of the universe was so deep and so fuel enriched that everyone of these curve balls that I was thrown, and fences built in front of me, and hills that I had to climb, I just reach for more fuel, and I just kept going.
Now, here I am, one of the most visible scientists in the land, and I wanna look behind me and say, ‘Where are the others who might have been this,’ and they’re not there! …I happened to survive and others did not simply because of forces of society that prevented it at every turn. At every turn.
…My life experience tells me that when you don’t find blacks, when you don’t find women in the sciences, I know that these forces are real, and I had to survive them in order to get where I am today.
So before we start talking about genetic differences, you gotta come up with a system where there’s equal opportunity, then we can have that conversation.
"What’s up with chicks and science?"
Are there genetic differences between men and women, explain why more men are in science.
Close-ups of butterfly wing scales! You should definitely click on these images to get the full detail.
I’ve paired each amazing close-up (by macro photographer Linden Gledhill) with an image of the corresponding butterfly or moth. The featured lepidoptera* are (in order of appearance):
- Madagascar diadem Hypolimnas dexithea (photo by Michel-Georges Bernard)
- Comet moth Argema mittrei (photo by Axel Strauß)
- Sunset moth Chrysiridia rhipheus (photo from Wikimedia Commons)
- Giant Blue Morpho Morpho didius (photo by Didier Descouens, Muséum de Toulouse)
- Rippon’s Birdwing Troides hypolitus (photo by Robert Nash, Ulster Museum)
*Lepidoptera (the scientific order that includes moths and butterflies) means “scaly wing.” The scales get their color not from pigment - but from microscopic structures that manipulate light.
At my job I am sometimes called to do demos of an atomic force microscope (AFM), which can give you exquisitely detailed topographic images.
The sample I like to do for demos for the general public is the scales of butterfly wings. (All images below are my own)
This is a light microscope image of the wing I usually look at when I run demos. You can see it looks about halfway between the second and third image, with shiny bright green scales interspersed with black scales. (The lighter area has been damaged; I got these wings from an entymologist that literally pulled two from a sandwich baggie containing dozens of wings so they were not in perfect shape.)
A little less beautifully-lit but it’s the same general idea. Each one of these scales is (very roughly) about 100 x 200 microns, within the same general size range as the diameter of a human hair. If you’re really observant you may notice that there seem to be little bright dots in the shiny ones. (This is also pretty apparent in the first image on the original post.) Cue the AFM.
This is a 20x20 micron image, so about 1/10 the surface area of a single scale. It’s a false colored topographic image so you can see what’s going on.
The first time I went to take these pictures I was doing so with some undergrads who wanted to see what an AFM was, and as we were getting this image, I blurted out “Holy shit, it’s a bike reflector.” And so it is. Bunch of curved mirrors so that the surface looks shiny no matter what angle you hold it at.
Zoom in a smidge more? Why sure.
This is a 5x5 micron image, just looking at the edge of one of those “reflectors” on the butterfly scale. See that finer texture there overlaying the surface of the “reflector”? If my math is right the spacing is just about right to absorb red wavelengths. The green is what gets reflected. Do you get this? The butterflies don’t have different pigments in their scales, it’s the *physics of the scale structure that makes it look that way*.
Okay, let’s look at one of the black scales at the same 5x5 micron magnification:
Same. Magnification. Different. Structure. You’ll notice that the photographs in the post above generally avoid the darker areas, it’s because they suck up so much light that they’re friggin’ hard to get a good picture of, as you can see in the light image I included. Those tortuous structures just absorb everything.
everyone is embarrassed of their fourteen year old self trust me if you’re fourteen right now you will regret whatever it is that you are doing at this moment
What, being a SuperWhoLockian, Tumblrian, and just being generally pretty good? I don’t think so.
screenshot this and look at it in 3 years
I will reblog this until all 14 year olds see it.
Trust us, we’ve been there.
Oh, 14. On the cusp of so many good things, while failing to be any if them.