With a death toll of more than 250,000 people, the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004 was one of the most devastating disasters of recent history.
It was triggered by an earthquake that struck off the coast of Sumatra in Indonesia. In 2016, Professor Lisa McNeill led a scientific expedition to investigate where it all began – in the seabed.
Sampling an earthquake zone in situ is one of the holy grails of modern earthquake studies. Although we now have very sophisticated techniques to remotely record the earthquake process, we really needed to sample the rocks where the real action goes on.
The expedition was conducted by the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP), which for the past 50 years has been sending scientists, researchers, engineers and technicians across the world to delve into the Earth’s archives.= …
Aliya Mughal: I’m a dedicated follower of wordsmithery and wisdom in its many guises. Reader, writer, storyteller – if there’s a thread to follow and people involved, I’m interested. I’ve built my life around words, digging out the stories that matter and need to be told – about science, feminism, art, philosophy, covering everything from human rights abuses in Sri Lanka, to famine and the aid game in Rwanda, to how the intersection of art and science has the power to connect the disparate forces of humanity with the nanoscopic forces of our sacred Earth. Find me @AliyaMughal1
“The Earth has music for those who listen.” George Santayana
I hear it before I see it. Repetitive ticks in quick succession, like the sound of a marble dropping on a tile floor before scuttling across the surface into the distance. The sound suddenly gets louder, turning into a wet fluttering. And then I see it, a pipistrelle bat swoops out from the barn door, over my head and into the dusky night.
Echolocation, the reverberating sounds made by bats that allow them to navigate in the dark when foraging for food, is indiscernible to the human ear. I had the privilege of witnessing these majestic creatures in flight one evening, sat in a quiet unlit corner of an Oxfordshire field, with a bat detector tuning me in to the bats’ chatter.
So, the question posed as the title for this post prompted a twitter discussion between myself and a friend the other day. The discuss got a bit heated, which some could see as a bad thing, personally I see it as a consequence of debate between passionate people. What came out of that debate though, is that I’ve thought about this question a lot, I assumed that everyone understood why this is an important issue and why we should be focussing on it now, but it seems that assumption May be wrong. I’ve been thinking about how best to explain it, and so I approached my friend to see if he’d be ok with me writing a post on this subject. I want to make clear, this is in no way a continuation of some imagined disagreement. He’s happy for me to write this, and I’m looking forward to coffee with him soon. There’s no personal vendetta here.
Right, so that’s the disclaimer out of the way.
Before I explain the why. I suppose I’d better explain the what. What is the women in STEM issue. For those that don’t know STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. And currently we have a problem in STEM subjects and careers. That problem is the low uptake of women. This is not just a recruitment problem, in fact you could argue it’s not a recruitment problem at all. Since girls tend to like and do well in STEM subjects through high school. The women in STEM problem is being referred to as the “leaky pipeline” – at each further stage of education and career progression the proportion of women to men drops. It starts at A-levels, with fewer girls doing a-level in STEM subjects despite out performing boys at GCSE level. Fewer still continue to study STEM subjects at undergraduate level, and fewer at post-graduate. This trend continues through career progression, for example in academia, after PhD, fewer women become lecturers, then fewer become senior lecturers; on and on. Women disappear. Despite clear interest and aptitude in STEM subjects they vanish. But we don’t know why. This is the women in STEM problem.
Meet Mary Sherman Morgan, rocket scientist, munitions and chemical engineer and one of the most instrumental players in the launch of America’s first satellite, Explorer I (shown above). According to her colleagues she “single-handedly saved America’s space programme”.
Mary started out life as a poor farm girl in North Dakota, her parents chose not to educate her by choice so that she could work on the farm. Eventually, she managed to graduate high school and then ran away from home to go to college and study chemical engineering.
During her studies, WWII broke out and there was a shortage of chemists in the country. Mary was offered a “Top Secret” job at a factory and had to accept without being told what the factory made or what her job would be. It turned out it was a munitions factory – Mary was put in charge of the manufacture of 3 different types of explosive. In her tenure the factory produced over 1 billion pounds of ordnance for WWII. Read more Rocket Girls at Women Rock Science