Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Ology of the Month

Next month is LGBT History Month in the UK. The theme is Science, Maths and Technology. This was chosen because Alan Turing, the father of the modern computer and computer science, was born a hundred years ago. To celebrate I’m going to carry the theme throughout the year, concentrating on one science each month – what I am calling my “Ology of the Month”.

The first “Ology of the Month” links in with the 12 Gay Days of Christmas theme. The last of this traditional holiday period is Twelfth Night followed by Epiphany. These commemorate the appearance of the Star of Bethlehem and the Wise Men. So the first Ology of the Month is … not actually an ology! It’s ASTRONOMY.

Of course, it wouldn’t be appropriate to choose astrology as it’s a belief rather than a science. However, historically speaking the study of the sky began with astrology. Astrologers were among the first people who tried to make sense of the universe and were pioneers in scientific research. After all, it was observation of the stars which led to the organising of a calendar allowing communities to plan ahead with their harvests, and was instrumental in navigating the oceans. It also helped to plan ahead for seasonal celebrations like New Year. And it also led to the construction of huge monuments likes Stonehenge and the Pyramids which are aligned to specific points in the sky.

Another reason to choose astronomy for this month is because the BBC is holding its third “Star Gazing Live” event from tonight.

For each Ology of the Month subjects I’ll try to mention an appropriate lgbt organisation to go with it. It seems that lgbt scientific groups are more common in the USA than anywhere else, as are named lists of lgbt staff and academics in universities, so it will be seen that most of the groups will be American.

The first group is the Outlist of Lesbian Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Astronomers. This list is compiled by Professor Omer Blaes of the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB). It also includes many lgbt allies who are supportive of the rights of lgbt astronomers and physicists to work in an non-discriminating working environment.

Prof. Blaes studied in London and Italy before becoming an Assistant Professor at UCSB in 1993. He has published many articles and papers on his specialist areas of black hole astrophysics, compact objects and accretion flows (no, I don’t know what that means either!). 


Yesterday I reached 10,000 page views on this blog. I never believed it would be a success, or that many people would be interested in anything I wrote. I want to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you, and hope you will continue to visit my blog.


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