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Alberto Conti
Innovation Manager
Innovation Manager

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Recent space telescope missions such as Kepler and Spitzer have given us unprecedented data that have shown that there are many, many planets orbiting other stars.  Current estimates show that there are enough planets in our galaxy that for every star in the Milky Way, there are on average 1.6 planets in orbit around them.  Many of these planets are like the Earth and have the potential to harbor life.

In our first FutureInSpace Hangout, we will explore this relatively brand new study in space astronomy with expert members of the American Astronomical Society, Dr. Natalie Batalha and Dr Sara Seager.  We will discuss the current state of exoplanet research and look at what exciting results may be in store for us as we deploy the next generation of space telescope like the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the Wide-Field Infrared Space Telescope (WFIRST), the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) and the future High Definition Space Telescope (HDST).

Please join +Tony Darnell Dr. +Alberto Conti and Dr. Harley Thronson and bring your questions and comments for our experts and we look forward to "Hanging Out" with you.

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#photosphere of universal studios with +Scott Lewis 

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Overcoming Imposter Syndrome by +Alicia Liu 

This feeling is partly why I gave up on a STEM major despite my interests. I had (and sometimes still have) this nagging voice in my head, telling me, "You can't do that because you're just not the math/science/tech type."

As Alicia describes it, "In my head I held a definition of a good programmer, and I didn’t fit it. [...] I did not try to implement algorithms in academic papers for fun. I did not skip meals to code."

Even though she majored in computer engineering and co-founded a software startup, this is what she believed: "I managed to get that far through sheer dumb luck and managed to keep everyone from finding out I’m not great at programming.”

And racking up more accomplishments doesn't solve the problem. As Maya Angelou wrote, "I have written 11 books, but each time I think, 'Uh-oh, they're going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody and they’re going to find me out.'"

Yikes. If Maya Angelou still had imposter syndrome after her 11th book, is there any hope for the rest of us?! 

Alicia Liu says it took her ten years to finally believe she's a good programmer. She found that programming lends itself well to imposter syndrome because "it consists of near constant failure" and "there is an ever-growing amount of stuff to learn." By focusing on how much she had learned rather than comparing herself to others, she started to change her perception. "I saw that there was no invisible barrier separating me and a good programmer. I can broaden my definition to include myself."

For me, simply discovering that "imposter syndrome" is an actual thing was enough to help me begin to overcome it. Tina Fey sums it up: "I’ve realized that almost everyone is a fraud, so I try not to feel too bad about it." ( Discovering that brilliant, inspiring people like Maya Angelou struggle with the same feelings that I do made me realize how silly it is to believe that voice of doubt in my head.

"The only solution, many experts say, is for higher-ups to talk about their own insecurities much more," writes Oliver Burkeman (

That's the mark of a true role model: someone who not only inspires you by being so awesome, but who also speaks openly about their own doubts.

For more on imposter syndrome, I recommend:

"When Women Feel Like Frauds They Fuel Their Own Failures"

Wikipedia page:

"Feel Like an Imposter? You're Not Alone"

Video: Julie Pagano: It's Dangerous to Go Alone: Battling the Invisible Monsters in Tech - PyCon 2014

For graduate students:

+ Any suggestions for further reading?

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Extraterrestrial Fireworks on this Independence Day! Reminiscent of a fireworks celebration, this Hubble Space Telescope image of a cosmic explosion that is quite similar to fireworks on Earth. In the upper right corner of the image, the Small Magellanic Cloud is a delicate glowing structure ablaze in a multitude of lavenders and peach. Nearby, a massive star has exploded as a supernova and begun to dissipate its interior into a spectacular display of colorful filaments.

Determined to be only about 2,000 years old, young supernova remnants like this allow astronomers to examine material from the cores of massive stars directly. This in turn gives insight on how stars form, their composition and the chemical enrichment of the surrounding area. As well, young remnants are a great learning tool to better understand the physics of supernova explosions.

The Small Magellanic Cloud is a nearby dwarf galaxy to our own Milky Way. It is visible in the Southern Hemisphere, in the direction of the constellation Tucana, and lies roughly 210,000 light-years distant.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)/J. Green (University of Colorado, Boulder)

#independenceday #4thofjuly #july4th #supernova #nasa #space #science #fourthofjuly #4thofjuly2014


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