When astrophysicist Dr. Héctor Arce returned home to Puerto Rico in October of 2015, it was to bring a handful of Yale astronomy students to Arecibo Observatory, at that time, the largest single dish radio telescope in the world. For Héctor, a professor of astrophysics at Yale University, passion for the stars started at home. When Héctor was young, his grandfather used to build his own telescopes. “I still have them,” Héctor says. Staring through the lenses of those telescopes with his grandfather opened a universe of possibility for young Héctor.
Puerto Rican physicist Dr. Mayda Velasco (Copyright: Ramon "Tonito" Zayas for El Nuevo Día)
Dr. Mayda Velasco is a world-renowned physicist who thinks big—from understanding the universe’s smallest components to building scientific capacity in Puerto Rico and Latin America.
In a building overlooking the ocean in Old San Juan, an eclectic group of people—young and old, women and men, citizens of many countries—are working to understand the structure and evolution of the universe. They have come together at Colegio de Física Fundamental e Interdisciplinaria de las Américas (College of Fundamental and Interdisciplinary Physics of the Americas).
It’s that time of the year again: the smell of charcoal, children gleefully splashing water at the beach, frozen lemonades, and endless warm nights staring at the mystifying skies… Did you know that some of the stars you see are bigger and brighter than our sun? That some of them don't exist anymore since their light travels millions of years to reach us? Astronomy, one of the oldest sciences, helps us understand objects and matter outside the Earth's atmosphere—stars, planets, comets, galaxies and black holes—and their physical and chemical properties.
Dr. Marcel Agüeros has made astronomy his life's work and passion.
Dr. Wanda Díaz Merced has created a system that lets her "listen" to the stars (Credit: William Leibman)
Frequently, science teachers ask their students to draw a scientist so that they can get a sense of what students think and imagine about scientists. Thousands and thousands of drawings show the same stereotypical characteristics: a male scientist, white, dressed in a lab coat, usually a chemist mixing liquids and generating explosions, and a person that does not have any physical limitations.
No student has ever drawn a scientist like Dr. Wanda Díaz Merced. This young woman from Gurabo embodies the scientific anti-stereotype. Not only is she a woman and Puerto Rican, but also she completed her doctoral work in astrophysics, and without being able to use her sight.
Until recently, people where able to experience space the way an astronaut would by watching the Dish Network Earth Channel, a 24 hour, seven days a week feed that broadcast directly from the commercial satellite Echostar 11. The author explains how the images where captured and transimitted to Earth. The camera stopped working recently, but fortunately for space aficionados, videos are still available on Youtube.
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Dr. Victor M. Blanco and the Victor Blanco Telescope at Cerro Tololo
The study of the planets, the stars, and the universe, in which we live, is the passion of many scientists.. Since the times of the British astronomer EdmundHalley and the British physicist Isaac Newton, the study field of Astronomy has been essential to understand what distinguishes celestial objects (position, distribution, movement, composition and energy).
Throughout human history, all generations looked to the sky and asked: What exists beyond our World? That same curiosity awoke in the Uruguayan scientist and member of CienciaPR,Dr. Daniel Altschuler the interest in investigate the galaxies.