When you get promoted and/or tenure at Penn State, the libraries hold a ceremony for you, where a book of your choice gets added to their special collection with a plate on the inside cover commemorating your achievement.  They ask that you choose a book (they’ll buy it if they don’t have it) with some significance, and they post a short blurb about it on their website.

At the ceremony, President Barron told how he instituted the same tradition at Florida State when he was president there. He also acknowledged the hard work and sacrifice of the newly promoted’s families, since he knows promotion is a team effort.  I was very pleased to hear that.

My terribly amateurish attempt to get a photo of President Barron thanking the families of the newly promoted for their sacrifice.

My terribly amateurish attempt to get a photo of President Barron thanking the families of the newly promoted for their sacrifice.

Here’s my book and blurb:

My book and blurb, to be added to the library's special collection

My book and blurb, to be added to the library’s special collection

The blurb in more detail:

A wise frog once asked "What's so amazing / that keeps us stargazing? / And what do we think we might see?"  For me, the answers to those questions were found in this book, which I checked out of my elementary school library over and over. In a fast-moving field where books are often out-of-date before their first printing, Our Universe had amazing longevity. Its popularity, aided by a friendly layout, compelling text, and beautiful illustrations, helped teach the world about the facts and mysteries of the universe.  Over the years it inspired many people, me included, to pursue a career in astronomy.

I know I’m not the only astronomer that was inspired by Our Universe. The copy at Lockwood Elementary school was effectively mine, because I kept renewing it over and over. I always knew I wanted to study astronomy, but this book gave me the background to start to understand what that meant.

Today, I can really appreciate the care of the graphic design that went into this book, drawing me in first with the pictures, then they layout and infographics, and eventually all that black-on-white text.

For an older generation of astronomers, the inspiration was Cosmos.  How many others of my generation owe their careers, in part, to Gallant’s book? Who do the young’uns today point to?

Leave your inspirations in the comments below.

4 thoughts on “Inspirations

  1. Dryson

    A discussion of Time Travel’s possibility

    According to CERN the gravity of Earth is weaker than the magnet on a fridge.

    Magnetism is a class of physical phenomena that are mediated by magnetic fields. Electric currents and the magnetic moments of elementary particles give rise to a magnetic field, which acts on other currents and magnetic moments. Every material is influenced to some extent by a magnetic field.

    Electromagnetism is a branch of physics which involves the study of the electromagnetic force, a type of physical interaction that occurs between electrically charged particles. The electromagnetic force usually shows electromagnetic fields, such as electric fields, magnetic fields, and light.

    Every material is influenced to some extent by a magnetic field.- Time travel would be governed by magnetism because like every material that is influenced to some extent by a magnetic field then across-space all events would therefore be governed by magnetism as well. Unless the Universe stores events as they take place for every single action taking place in a Universe that would be able to be accessible somehow then Time Travel is not possible.

    The Universe keeping track of events as they happen and then storing them would be like a 100 trillion ^100 trillion Moriarty Cubes connected together through an exchange of an exotic form of magnetism. Maybe the location where the Moriarty Cube Colony exists would be in the Hole in The Universe where most normal even Dark Matter does not exist.

    Without normal matter of any form existing within the Moriarty Colony located in this hole in the Universe there would be only two constants present. Those constants would be Time and Space itself. Time because the Moriarty Colony has been measured to be at least 1 billion light years in across and space because of the volume that the Colony occupies. The Moriarty Colony also proves that Time does not need Gravity to exist because there are not any objects within the Moriarty Colony that produce objects with mass that create a magnetic field interaction between two objects with mass but we can see that Time across Space-Time still does in fact exist. There must be some exotic force at work though within the Moriarty Colony that would keep the rest of the Universe from occupying area that the Colony exists in. Otherwise like a collapsing star into a black hole the pressure of the Universe would cause all matter to occupy the billion light year across void. Since we do not see this taking place then the Moriarty Colony does not see any type of exertion of force on it at all. The only force exerted in the Colony is Time and Space.

    Since only Time and Space exist in the Moriarty Colony accessing it might reveal the ability to actually Time Travel if that is the location where the Universe stores all of the events taking place in the Universe at all times. Humans have the ability to store and remember events and locations. We come from the Universe and are designed based upon the Universe this would make the Universe having the same ability to store and remember events and locations as well.

  2. Marc

    Hi Jason (big fan of yours), congrats on your tenure! (if i understood correctly). I know you are a extremely busy person :) but maybe share your thoughts with me/us regarding likely messaging formats tier 1 (sorry for my undefined definition) civilizations similar to ourselves might use and how we can test this? :)

  3. Kathy Hertzog

    This tradition came up today on another blog I read. That one is from the American Geophysical Union where another PSU professor was mentioning her book choice.

    And, my sister is the PSU librarian that tipped your book selection! (Pasted your quote into the back pages.)

    I am a Computer Scientist but not an academic. My inspiration was anything by Robert Heinlein.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *