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Katie Mack
astrophysicist, occasional freelance science writer, connoisseur of airplane food
astrophysicist, occasional freelance science writer, connoisseur of airplane food

Katie's posts

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I get a lot of e-mails from students who have been assigned to contact/interview professionals for school projects. I wrote about why I can't help.

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Get ready, physicists. #chirpforLIGO

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The Two Body Problem for Women in Academia
Research shows that academic women are more like to be on short-term contracts ("soft money" funded by grants). This creates problems for women in managing their romantic relationships, especially for women who are single and childfree. +Katie Mack shares her experience:

As a single woman with a short-term contract and no idea which hemisphere I’ll be in two years from now, children are not exactly at the forefront of my mind. At the moment, I spend a lot more time thinking about the two-body problem.

In this context, the “two-body problem” is the problem of maintaining a committed relationship between two individuals who are trying to have careers in academia. When the two-body problem proves unsolvable, it’s sometimes called “academic scattering”. It is by no means unique to academia, but the international nature of the field, the frequency of short-term (1-3 year) contracts, and the low wages compared to other similarly intense career paths make it especially bad for academics. In the sciences, the gender disparity adds a further complication for female academics: when women make up a small percentage of the discipline, they are much more likely to be partnered with other academics. 

This is an example of how the academic system structures women's choices. While men also face this dilemma, as Dr Mack notes, the fact that (heterosexual) women are more likely to be partnered with academic men makes these choices tougher on women. Research also shows that heterosexual academic women are more likely to change jobs for their partners, but the reverse is not true for academic men. 

How have you managed the two body problem?

Katie Mack on SAS:

Study on academic women's partnering choices and inequality:

Image: Marie Curie with her husband Pierre, who solved the two body problem by marrying and working at the same lab. Credit:

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What is a discovery, really? Check out my latest article in Cosmos Magazine, on #BICEP2 , big bang gravitational waves, and stardust.

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Let's talk about the Big Bang! We've got two theoretical cosmologists, a General Relativist, and a particle physicist. Join us!

I'm often asked about books about cosmology or astronomy for popular audiences. I usually don't have much good advice, since I don't often read non-technical books about astronomy. Please comment here if you have suggestions!

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Just finished chatting about a cool new #DarkMatter  result on the #HubbleHangout. You can watch on the link below!
Astronomers using observations from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and +NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory  have found that dark matter interacts with itself even less than previously thought by researchers. This finding narrows down the options for what this mysterious substance might be.

By finding that dark matter interacts with itself even less than previously thought, the team has successfully narrowed down the properties of dark matter. Particle physics theorists have to keep looking, but they now have a smaller set of unknowns to work with when building their models.

Please join +Tony Darnell Dr.+Carol Christian  and +Scott Lewis  as they discuss these amazing observations with the team that made them along with special guest Dr.+Katie Mack 

Ode to Hubble Contest Voting is still going on, cast your vote here!

Quarterfinals for #HubbleMania also going on:

NASA's One Year Crew:

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As we've seen in the news a lot lately between the "Smiley Face Cluster" and the amazing image by the +Hubble Space Telescope showing four instances of a supernova in one image! There have been a multitude of questions about how these amazing phenomena are observed and what causes them to happen.

Well have no fear, Dr. +Katie Mack and +Scott Lewis are back with another episode of Conversations with an Astrophysicist to discuss what gravitational lensing is and how it works, not to mention the different types of it there are and what we can learn from it!

The show will go live at 0500 UTC on 7 March 2015 (Just in case the event page doesn't change the time/date for you automatically)

We'll have the Q&A app installed and ready for you to ask your questions, possibly having them answered on-air! As always, you can send us tweets beforehand:

Dr. Katie Mack:
Scott Lewis:

#Space   #Astronomy   #Cosmology   #GravitationalLensing   #DarkMatter   #HangoutsOnAir   #ScienceEveryday  

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My new piece on #DarkMatter  in Cosmos Magazine.
The Dark Matter of the Gaps

When it comes to studying dark matter, it becomes increasingly difficult when you take into account that it doesn't interact with the electromagnetic force... and might interact with the weak force. 

There are a few candidates of observations that have been seen by astrophysicists, but they can't all be dark matter, right? In this awesome new article by +Katie Mack in +Cosmos Magazine, she explains some of the difficulties in studying dark matter, what some of the candidates might be (and why), but also reminding us that even if one of these is found to be the tell-tale signs of dark matter... the Universe is far more complex than dark matter, and there's a whole lot more for us to learn. 

#ScienceEveryday   #Astrophysics   #Astronomy   #DarkMatter   #STEM  

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I tumblrd a thing:

There is a LOT of science in everyday life.
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