Cover photo
Chanda Prescod-Weinstein
Works at Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Attended 32nd Street/USC Performing and Visual Arts Magnet
Lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts
10,138 followers|329,944 views


Creators of computer programs that underpin experiments don’t always get their due - so the website Depsy is trying to track the impact of research code.
Creators of computer programs that underpin experiments don’t always get their due — so the website Depsy is trying to track the impact of research code.
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“But a careful analysis of the data showed that while the outer arcs are indeed lensed background galaxies, the brightest blue lights, interconnecting the two giant ellipticals at the cluster's center, come from the merger of the galaxies and the surrounding gas themselves. What we're looking at is a combination of the stars and galaxies of the foregrounds cluster, some 4,000 times as massive as the Milky Way, a transient burst of star formation, and only a few background objects.”

One of the most spectacular predictions of Einstein's General Relativity was the existence of gravitational lensing, whereby a large foreground mass could act as a lens, magnifying and distorting the background light source behind it. Although this was first observed for quasars, large galaxy clusters act as the most powerful lenses. Which is why it was such a surprise that the brightest feature in the recently observed galaxy cluster SDSS J1531+3414 wasn't from gravitational lensing, as originally thought, but was simply a gas bridge of star formation connecting two giant elliptical galaxies. It took redshift data for the individual components to arrive at that conclusion, showing once again that even the best experience and intuition is no substitute for good data.
VideoImage credit: NASA, ESA, and G. Tremblay (European Southern Observatory). A century ago, Einstein put forth a new theory of gravity: General Relativity. The solar eclipse of 1919 finally confirmed that mass gravitationally bent light around it. Images credit: New York Times, 10 November 1919 (L); Illustrated London News, 22 November 1919 (R). But only [...]
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Our solar system is pretty big, so let us break it down for you. Here are 5 things to know this week: #NASABeyond
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Anyone who's been through the peer review process will understand.
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Dennis D. McDonald's profile photo
anyone who has had a PHD dissertation committee will understand as well
And this seems relevant, given the ongoing discussion about Geoff Marcy and UC Berkeley:
The Two Body Problem for Women in Academia
Research shows that academic women are more likely 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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2000 years before Laplace, the ancient Indian school of Ajivika believed in determinism and absence of free will.
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Before you ask a genderqueer or gender non-conforming person when they’re going to “fully” transition, consider for a moment what you’re really saying. You’re telling them that their body, as it currently exists, is unacceptable, that their gender identity is somehow incomplete.
Like so many genderqueer people, my transition has not been from one gender identity to 'the other.'
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Acknowledging the city’s growing homeless population, the Los Angeles City Council voted 14 to 0 Tuesday to declare a shelter crisis, paving the way for providing temporary housing to homeless men and women in public buildings.
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Maybe it's a good sign that things in the community seem to be changing a tiny bit since I wrote this:
Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, theoretical physicist with astrophysical roots
I'm Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, a theoretical physicist who specializes in early universe cosmology. I have a lot of different interests, particularly the history and literature of of North America.
Bragging rights
I know the calculus. Vera Rubin once introduced herself to me and then asked for my opinion on how the dark matter problem would be solved. Seriously.
  • 32nd Street/USC Performing and Visual Arts Magnet
    saxophone, modern dance, 1988 - 1995
  • Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies
    shakespeare, 1995 - 1999
  • Harvard College
    Artium Baccalaureus in Physics and Astronomy and Astrophysics, 1999 - 2003
  • University of California, Santa Cruz
    Master of Astronomy and Astrophysics, 2003 - 2006
  • University of Waterloo
    Doctor of Philosophy, Physics, 2006 - 2010
theoretical physicist. trouble maker.
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Martin Luther King Postdoctoral Fellow, 2011 - present
  • National Society of Hispanic Physicists
    Advisory Committee, 2008 - present
  • Johns Hopkins University
    Visiting Scientist, Department of Physics and Astronomy, 2011 - present
  • National Society of Black Physicists and National Society of Hispanic Physicists Joint Annual Conference
    Co-Chair, Programming Committee, 2011 - 2011
  • NASA
    NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellow, 2010 - 2011
  • National Society of Black Physicists
    Chair, Cosmology, Gravitation and Relativity Group, 2007 - 2011
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Los Angeles, California - London, England - Washington, D.C. - Santa Cruz, California - Waterloo, Ontario - Toronto, Ontario