Once upon a time, billions of years ago, around a small Class G yellow dwarf star located in the unfashionable western arm of the Galaxy…
…a molecular cloud condensed into large and small planets, some of which captured moons and various space objects (think about it, Phobos isn’t like other moons). The new solar system has an asteroid belt, several large outer planets and is visited by a passing parade of interplanetary objects that rain down on the new sun’s new planets. Some of these objects, asteroids, meteorites, hit these newly formed planets and moons, forming impact craters. These are the planetary features that our most recent curator, newly minted Dr Meg Rosenburg studied for her doctoral work in her quest to better understand the history of moon. In her week at Real Scientists, Meg taught us that these craters aren’t just surface markers or blemishes on the moons and planets: they are a visible history and memorial to events of the solar system’s development.
Starting off with a tour of craters on the moon, the earth and other planets and how we go about measuring and interpreting them, Meg started #CraterCountdown, a nightly run on different kinds of craters (with photos!)
and talked about the various ways we can measure their size and age.
Meg also talked about the collaborative nature of science, particularly given that some of the data for her thesis came from NASA’s Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA). Much of the work we do as scientists depends on other scientists and engineers making the acquisition of that data possible, and this collaborative approach is lost in common pop culture tropes of the lone genius scientist.
In addition to the scientific side of how we measure and observe the ancient history of the solar system, Meg talked about Women in STEM and the importance of female faculty role models, and her outreach – particularly her work as a producer of the PhD Movie. We asked Meg how she found her week curating for Real Scientists.
How did you find your week at Real Scientists?
I thought my week went well overall. I was a bit nervous going into it, especially because I had a couple days of travel at the beginning (coming back from a family union over the 4th of July), and I think I could have planned topics ahead of time a little more than I did, but it turned out well anyway. I made up a couple of hashtags to help me with the transition back to the west coast (#RSplaylist) and to set up a serial activity (#CraterCountdown) in hopes that people might decide to tune in regularly. It seemed like the biggest factor in the latter effort was time of day, though, so I’m not really sure which time zone(s) I was hitting best with which tools. It might be cool to see a distribution of @realscientists followers somehow.
What kind of engagement did you get out of it?
I got a range of reactions to my core topic (impact cratering). Many people told me they had never thought about craters much before so it was interesting to them. A couple of people who work on similar topics asked me very detailed questions, and one person requested that I get more into the details of the science. In general I tried to mix it up: talk about my specific research in some detail for a bit, then switch to either issues/experiences in academia or science-related visits, etc. Everyone was very enthusiastic and respectful – I’m so grateful for that!
What were your favourite discussions?
My favorite discussion was the Friday afternoon #womeninSTEM conversation. I don’t think it managed to cover everything (by any means!) but it was nice to hear about different experiences and strategies, and I’m still finding great role models to follow on Twitter from recommendations. #CraterCountdown also generated some fun conversations, especially when people had visited one of the sites before. I haven’t visited any of them except for Meteor Crater – I’m pretty jealous! Someday I’ll have to take a world-wide crater-themed tour. [Ed: I think we should do this]
Any particular highlights and/or lowlights?!
I was really touched that many people took the time to tell me they enjoyed my tweets. Going into this, I really wasn’t sure that anyone would be interested in my research and other interests, so it was great to have some positive feedback. I was also overwhelmed by the positive response to #RSplaylist. Since I had to spend several hours flying on Tuesday, I thought people might think it was lame, like I should have planned better to not be traveling that week. It turns out there’s really an appetite for science videos out there! I’ll try to be more conscious going forward of recommending the good videos I come across on a more regular basis.
The multitalented Meg will also be tweeting for another rotation-curation account, @WetheHumanities this week, you should checkout her tweets there as well. Recently, Meg’s been tweeting about aerial photography:
which, as it turns out, relates to theories of crater formation, and how we view our world from above.
So we thank Meg for her most excellent week tweeting at Real Scientists. Be sure to follow her continuing adventures at her regular account, @trueanomalies.