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Matthew Francis
Lives in Richmond, Virginia
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Matthew Francis

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The Music of the Spheres turns out to have some incredibly terrifying lyrics. — Katie Mack (@AstroKatie) April 6, 2014 As deaths go, our Sun’s will be gentle: no supernova, no black hole, no cataclysm. Roughly 5 billion years from now, our host star will…
The Music of the Spheres turns out to have some incredibly terrifying lyrics. — Katie Mack (@AstroKatie) April 6, 2014 As deaths go, our Sun's will be gentle: no supernova, no black hole, no catacl...
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Matthew Francis

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Now it can be told: I am writing a weekly column on space and astronomy for The Daily Beast!
Everyone’s talking about “inflation” and “primordial waves,” but what’s the big deal?
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Matthew Francis

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Today is often referred to as “Pi Day”, since in the United States and various other countries, the date March 14 is written as 3/14. Beyond those who write the date 14/3, there are a few who object to Pi Day for other reasons. For pedants who want to…
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Matthew Francis

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In physics, it often seems that the theorists — the people thinking up new models and ideas to describe the natural world — get most of the glory. The Einsteins, Newtons, and Hawkings are generally better known than the people who do experiments. As a…
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Matthew Francis

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How did the biggest black holes form? My latest for Nautilus has the story.
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If you’re like me, you’re watching the new Cosmos with Neil DeGrasse Tyson diligently these days. Last night’s show (at least for those of us viewing on Fox in the United States) largely dealt with my favorite topic: gravitation, and how it creates…
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Matthew Francis

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Rumors have percolated throughout the cosmology community, surrounding today’s press conference at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA). So far, the rumors appear to be substantiated: researchers with the BICEP2 (Background Imaging of…
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Along with many others, I watched the new Cosmos premiere last night, narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson. In fact, many of my friends and colleagues discussed the show on Twitter as it was on, a kind of virtual watching party. Given the outsize important…
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To go along with my post yesterday, here's my friend Katie writing about why we have to talk about sexual harassment.
 
There's a discussion going on over at the Astronomers' Facebook page, because someone complained that a member of the group was "spamming" the group with links to the Women in Astronomy blog. It turned into a discussion of sexual harassment, and whether harassment is something we should talk about as a professional organization.

Let me just say: Women don't want to talk about sexual harassment either. We talk about sexual harassment because there is literally nothing else we can do to stop it. Talking about it may or may not work, but it's the best we've got. And yes, we have to talk about it to men. And to other women. We have to talk about it to pretty much everyone who ever interacts with other people, because we're all in this culture together and the changes that need to happen are big and difficult and fundamental.

But, no, we don't want to talk about harassment. We also don't want to talk about our bodies with strangers on the street. We don't want to talk with our professional colleagues about how we look in our clothes. We don't want to talk about the sexual desires of our senior colleagues or about how our reproductive choices might inconvenience our companies or about whether or not our hormones might be affecting our work. We don't want to have to explain how we could possibly be good enough for our careers or hear our colleagues dismiss our ideas because of our gender.

So, yeah, it'd be great if we could stop talking about sexual harassment, but there are plenty of other things I think we should stop talking about first.
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[What follows is my opinion and mine only. I speak for nobody in the leadership or community of ScienceOnline, so what follows should be taken in that spirit.] One of the hardest things about dealing with sexual harassment in an organization is its…
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Have him in circles
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Physicist, science writer, hat man
Introduction
I’m a physicist, science writer, public speaker, educator, and frequent wearer of jaunty hats. My writing and speaking specialties are cosmology, astronomy, and many other topics in physics, all aimed at non-specialist audiences. I have appeared in comics form as Pluto’s moon Nix. I’m currently writing a book on cosmology, with working title Back Roads, Dark Skies: A Cosmological Journey.
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Richmond, Virginia