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Events on Friday, October 23rd, 2015

Special Friday Noon Talk
Where are all the black folk in astronomy?
Time: 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Place: 4421 Sterling Hall
Speaker: Professor John Johnson , Harvard CfA
Abstract: Decades of diversity programs in STEM have had little to no impact on the racial demographics of astronomy and physics. Today, astronomy departments take an average of 30 years to graduate a Black or Latino PhD student, and the average PhD rate is 0.5 per year. The astronomy professoriate is only 1% Black, 1% Latino and 0% Native. I argue that aiming at diversity is the wrong approach. In order to explore better strategies, I will lead an interactive discussion with the audience, starting with the definition of four seemingly simple words. With the proper vocabulary in hand, I will provide a brief history of race in America that has led to the peculiar present-day racial makeup of our field.<br><br>
Host: Professor Eric Wilcots
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Physics Department Colloquium
Just Because We're Smart Doesn't Mean We're Crazy and Evil: Giving Scientists and Mathematicians a Fair Shake in Literary Fiction
Time: 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm
Place: 2241 Chamberlin Hall (Coffee & Cookies at 3:15pm)
Speaker: Stuart Rojstaczer, Writer/UW-Madison Alumni
Abstract: How scientists are characterized in popular culture and the arts likely plays a role in how much impact their opinions and research results have upon society. I am well aware, given my lengthy history as a research scientist, that much good science gets willfully ignored and dismissed in the political arena and by the public partly because they have a negative view of scientists that comes from popular culture. As a writer of literary fiction, I feel a political obligation to portray scientists and their work with realistic depth. How does one get past the societal cliché of scientists and mathematicians being socially withdrawn, eccentric, emotionally stunted and ultimately less than human? One approach is to ignore this cliché entirely and to portray them as, more or less, ordinary people who happen to work as scientists and mathematicians. Another approach is to embrace the cliché initially in order to attract an audience and then to subvert it. This latter approach is the one I prefer and employed in my latest novel, The Mathematician’s Shiva.
Host: Marshall Onellion
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