re: cool atheist scientist chick

From: Amara Graps (
Date: Fri Apr 27 2001 - 00:40:17 MDT

>From: "Mark Plus" <>, Wed, 25 Apr 2001

>The more times I watch _Contact_, the more I like Jodie Foster's portrayal
>of radio astronomer Eleanor Arroway. [...]
>If only there were (more?) women like that in real life. (They don't call
>it "science fiction" for nothing!)

 *science fiction* ...? Hardly.

While Jodie Foster is an impressive woman, her character is based much
more on Jill Tarter (and also on huge aspects of Carl Sagan himself, his
wife Ann Druyan, and several others). Jill Tarter is the founder of the
SETI Institute.

You can learn more about Jill Tarter by going to the SETI web site, and
you can learn more about that character in the chapter: "Contact" in the
autobiography: _Carl Sagan: A Life_ by Keay Davidson.

You would find that woman scientists are usually also atheists, as are
scientists, in general (! still many exceptions, though).

In astronomy, the percentages of woman in the astronomy field in the U.S. are
at about 30% (last time I checked). In Germany, a lot less (1 in about 20
or 50). In France and Italy the percentage is similar to the U.S. or maybe
even more (50%, say). I'm still finding out about other countries, as
I'm curious of this myself. "Planetary science" research in Europe is
almost nonexistent, compared to the U.S., however.

Some number of woman astronomers have worked on SETI work (as have MANY
astronomers, including myself and my old friends at NASA-Ames). SETI related
work is one of the hottest astronomy research areas now -- I would guess
that 30% of all _planetary science_ research is related to finding other
planets and explaining the existing extra-solar planet data. I suggest
browsing the SETI literature list or browse the NASA-ADS abstracts with
keywords: "extra-solar planets", "circumplanetary disks", "protosolar
disks", "infrared-excess stars" as an example to start to see this fact for


Amara Graps | Max-Planck-Institut fuer Kernphysik
Interplanetary Dust Group | Saupfercheckweg 1
+49-6221-516-543 | 69117 Heidelberg, GERMANY *
        "Never fight an inanimate object." - P. J. O'Rourke

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