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  • EnCambio - Estanislao Bachrach July 28, 2017
    EnCambio te va a permitir alumbrar los procesos por los cuales te comportás de determinada manera con el fin de dejar atrás aquellos hábitos y conductas que ya no te sirven. El objetivo es que aprendas del potencial que tiene tu cerebro para cambiar y la capacidad que tenés vos para modificarlo. Este año cambio de trabajo, empiezo el gimnasio, bajo esos kili […]
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  • El cerebro idiota - Dean Burnett July 28, 2017
    ¿Por qué pierde discusiones con personas que saben MUCHO MENOS que usted? ¿Por qué es capaz de reconocer a esa mujer a la que conoció aquella vez que... pero no logra recordar su nombre? ¿Por qué, tras su última ruptura sentimental, se pasó varios días seguidos en el sofá, hech@ un ovillo, y sin mover más que la mano para secarse los mocos y las lágrimas de […]
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  • La teoría del todo - Stephen W. Hawking July 28, 2017
    Una manera clara y amena de acercarse a los misterios del universo. En esta esclarecedora obra, el gran físico británico Stephen Hawking nos ofrece una historia del universo, del big bang a los agujeros negros. En siete pasos, Hawking logra explicar la historia del universo, desde las primeras teorías del mundo griego y de la época medieval hasta las más com […]
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  • ¿Cómo pensar como Sherlock Holmes? - Maria Konnikova July 28, 2017
    Ningún personaje de ficción es más conocido por sus poderes de intuición y observación que Sherlock Holmes. Pero, ¿es su inteligencia extraordinaria una invención de la ficción o podemos aprender a desarrollar estas habilidades, para mejorar nuestras vidas en el trabajo y en casa? A través de ¿ Cómo pensar como Sherlock Holmes? , la periodista y psicóloga Ma […]
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  • La física del futuro - Michio Kaku July 28, 2017
    Un recorrido asombroso a través de los próximos cien años de revolución científica. El futuro ya se está inventando en los laboratorios de los científicos más punteros de todo el mundo. Con toda probabilidad, en 2100 controlaremos los ordenadores a través de diminutos sensores cerebrales y podremos mover objetos con el poder de nuestras mentes, la inteligenc […]
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  • Breve historia de mi vida - Stephen Hawking July 28, 2017
    La mente maravillosa de Stephen Hawking ha deslumbrado al mundo entero revelando los misterios del universo. Ahora, por primera vez, el cosmólogo más brillante de nuestra era explora, con una mirada reveladora, su propia vida y evolución intelectual. Breve historia de mi vida cuenta el sorprendente viaje de Stephen Hawking desde su niñez […]
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  • El gran diseño - Stephen Hawking & Leonard Mlodinow July 28, 2017
    Aun antes de aparecer, este libro ha venido precedido, en todos los medios de comunicación, de una extraordinaria polémica sobre  sus conclusiones: que tanto nuestro universo como los otros muchos universos posibles surgieron de la nada, porque su creación no requiere de la intervención de ningún Dios o ser sobrenatural, sino que todos los universos pro […]
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  • Sobre la teoría de la relatividad especial y general - Albert Einstein July 28, 2017
    Entre el Electromagnetismo y la Mecánica newtoniana existe una fórmula de bisagra: la teoría de la relatividad especial y general. La importancia del nuevo marco planteado por Albert Einstein se entiende por lo siguiente: la percepción del tiempo y el espacio es relativa al observador. ¿Qué significa esto? Si usted viaja a una velocidad mayor que la de la lu […]
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  • Ágilmente - Estanislao Bachrach July 28, 2017
    Bachrach es Doctor en biología molecular y explica el funcionamiento del cerebro. A través de ello, da consejos y herramientas para ser más creativos y felices en el trabajo y en la vida. La neurociencia es clara: el cerebro aprende hasta el último día de vida. La creatividad puede expandirse. Tu mente, mediante la aplicación de las técnicas correctas, puede […]
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  • Tricks Any Dog Can Do! - Susan Day July 28, 2017
    This great book comes with advice and guidance as to the best way to teach these tricks. It offers more than one method which the reader can choose depending upon their own situation. There is also advice to using treats and shows you how to not end up with a treat junkie! This books is from the desk of Susan Day, a canine behaviourist. Susan teaches obedien […]
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Why One Scientist Went Public With Her Sexual Harassment Story 

Inquiring Minds

Why One Scientist Went Public With Her Sexual Harassment Story

Exoplanet researcher Sarah Ballard is fighting back against harassment in academia.

Natalie Schreyer & Jeremy Schulman Sep 27, 2016

In the past few years, sexual harassment in the sciences has become an increasingly visible problem. Disturbing allegations about the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Park Service, and the former head of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have all made headlines. So have a number of cases involving prominent university professors.

On the latest episode of the Inquiring Minds podcast, Kishore Hari talks to Sarah Ballard, an accomplished exoplanet researcher who was also a complainant in one of the most high-profile recent harassment controversies. Last year, BuzzFeed reported that Geoff Marcy, a renowned astronomer at the University of California-Berkeley, had faced sexual harassment accusations. A report produced by the university found that Marcy had “violated the relevant UC sexual harassment policies”; it cited allegations that he had inappropriately touched students. Initially, Marcy was placed on probation; he was instructed by the university to comply with its sexual harassment policies and to avoid physical contact with students (except to shake their hands).

But the BuzzFeed story sparked a national outcry, and many began demanding a more severe punishment. Marcy posted an apology on his website, though he denies some of the allegations in the report and says that his actions didn’t harm his students’ professional lives. He ultimately retired under pressure from faculty at the university.

On Inquiring Minds, Ballard depicts Marcy as a professor who praised her talent yet abused her trust. She first met him when she was an undergraduate student in one of his classes, but her excitement to work with one of the world’s foremost experts on exoplanets soon took a dark turn. On one occasion, Marcy told Ballard a detailed story about his sexual history. On another occasion, she says, he attempted to massage her neck after driving her home.

You couldn’t protect yourself then, but you can protect younger you today, and you can protect women who are 20 today.

Sarah Ballard

After that, Ballard agonized over whether to confront Marcy about his behavior, ultimately deciding to do so. As described in the Berkeley report, this prospect caused “great anxiety” for Ballard, “in part because she believed such a confrontation would effectively forfeit any opportunity of receiving a letter of recommendation” from Marcy. But it never came to that. Ballard says Marcy’s behavior suddenly changed and the harassment stopped. She later found out that a graduate student had confronted Marcy about unwelcome behavior Marcy had allegedly exhibited toward a different student.

Marcy didn’t deny Ballard’s allegations—though he does deny some of the other allegations in Berkeley’s report. (According to the Berkeley report, he told the university investigator that he didn’t recall touching Ballard in the car but that it was possible he did.) In an interview with Mother Jones, Marcy’s attorney, Elizabeth Grossman, argued that Marcy’s actions weren’t serious enough to justify the backlash he’s experienced. “There is not a single allegation of sexual assault [against Marcy],” said Grossman. “There is not a single allegation of soliciting sex, of requesting sex in exchange for academic favor. There is not a single suggestion of his interfering with anyone’s ability to thrive on campus.”

Ballard, however, says she was deeply affected by her interactions with Marcy. “To have [Marcy] say, ‘You are talented, you are full of promise’— that is so compelling,” she explains. “And then to have all of the sudden the knowledge that…that message might not have been delivered in good faith: You feel like the rug has been pulled out under you. So does that mean that I’m not promising? Does that mean that all of it was a lie?…It was profoundly rattling to my nascent sense of self as an astronomer, as a scientist.”

Years later, when Ballard heard that allegations against Marcy were going to become public, she made the decision to come forward and identify herself as one of the victims. She hopes that by doing so, she’ll make things easier for other women.

“There was one principle which helped me to unravel the tangled knot of my feelings that I could always return to…and that was you have to be the woman you needed then,” says Ballard. “You couldn’t protect yourself then, but you can protect younger you today, and you can protect women who are 20 today.”

Ballard went on to receive a Ph.D. in astronomy and astrophysics from Harvard (she notes that Marcy wrote a recommendation letter that helped her get into the prestigious university). She now researches exoplanets at MIT. But across the country, many other women have left the sciences. That’s partly because of widespread sexual harassment, argues Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.). Indeed, a 2014 study found that roughly two-thirds of female scientists surveyed said they had experienced harassment while doing field research.

In January, Speier gave a speech on the floor of the US House of Representatives recounting the allegations against Timothy Slater, who taught astronomy at the University of Arizona and is now a professor at the University of Wyoming. Speier had obtained the results of a confidential 2005 investigation conducted by the University of Arizona. “Dr. Slater himself admitted that he gave an employee a vegetable-shaped vibrator and that he frequently commented to his employees and students about the appearance of women,” said Speier on the House floor. “My staff spoke with one female grad student who was required to attend a strip club in order to discuss her academic work with Dr. Slater. The woman has since left the field of astronomy.” After reading the report, “I was physically sickened,” Speier says onInquiring Minds.

Slater declined to answer specific questions from Mother Jones about the allegations, though he did provide a letter his lawyers had sent to the University of Arizona threatening to sue the university for defamation and breach of privacy over the release of the report. In the letter, Slater’s attorneys said the university’s report “contains numerous false and misleading allegations, which Rep. Speier and the media has reported as fact.” Specifically, the attorneys state that Slater “never gave a vibrator” to “any graduate student, ever” and that Slater “denies that he ever pressured anyone to go to the strip club or that anyone ever complained about going to strip club.”

Speier proposes one solution to the problem of sexual harassment in the sciences. The federal government has the power under Title IX to fight harassment, she notes. Because so many universities, even private ones, rely on federal dollars, they could lose federal funding in the form of grants or student loans if they violate the law. Last week, she introduced legislation requiring universities to inform federal grant-making institutions when they determine a professor has engaged in sexual harassment.

Speier isn’t optimistic that the bill will pass in the current Congress, but she wants harassment victims to know they have an advocate on Capitol Hill. Her message to them? “They’ve been heard.”

Inquiring Minds is a podcast hosted by neuroscientist and musician Indre Viskontas and Kishore Hari, the director of the Bay Area Science Festival. To catch future shows right when they are released, subscribe to Inquiring Minds via iTunes or RSS. You can follow the show on Twitter at @inquiringshow and like us on Facebook.

Natalie Schreyer

Jeremy Schulman

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Now What Episode 10: Trash Powered

This episode of Now What is, on one level, a story about All Power Labs. APL is a group of genius misfits – Burning Man artists, brilliant engineers, and welders with a rebellious streak – and to properly understand them, a bit of backstory is required. Originally, they ran an illegal art compound on the outskirts of Berkeley, CA. The city didn’t like that much and cut their power in an effort to evict them. Rather than cave in and move out, they built their own power generators based on old World War II technology. It’s a pretty impressive municipal ‘fuck you,’ and an even more impressive scaleable power solution when you consider a) its carbon negative footprint and b) its reversal of top-down power dynamics by using portable generators to build a grid from the ground up. Pretty soon, the APL gang was growing their power experiments beyond their own lot and far beyond Berkeley, manufacturing biomass generators at scale and working with organizations around the world to put them in the hands of folks who wanted to find sustainable power solutions or, even more pressingly, simply wanted reliable access to power and electricity where there was none. And so in that way, this episode is also a story about power. More specifically, access to power, and most specifically, a lack there of. Around the world, about 1.2 billion people have no access to electricity and the development benefits it brings. 1 billion more have access only to unreliable electricity networks. And the thing about those truly stunning numbers, is that power is a backbone resource: it’s the underlying asset that allows you to educate, to have healthcare, to cook, to socialize, to communicate. The list is endless. And make no mistake, resourceful folks will find power elsewhere if they need it, which can be dicey; smoke from polluting and inefficient cooking, lighting, and heating devices kills an estimated four million people a year and causes a range of chronic illnesses. And of course, for a final little sprinkling of awful, these emissions are also important drivers of climate change and local environmental degradation. And of course, this is a story about Liberia. A country that has just been through sheer and utter hell and back a few times, with a deeply complex and complicated relationship with America. A country where today, coming out of civil war, incomprehensible atrocities and brutal leadership, and, most recently, a vicious battle with Ebola, only 9.8% of Liberia’s 4.39 million citizens have access to electricity. Not to put too fine of a point on it, but it’s pretty fucking tough to rebuild when you can’t turn the lights on. And really, this episode is a story about people. I tried writing that sentence 20 different ways so it wouldn’t seem so rote and awful and cheesy and tired. I failed, obviously, but the sentiment holds. This episode is about a group of people in Berkeley, California, and how what they do changes the lives of another totally separate group of people in Kwendin, Liberia, and about how the way the people in Kwendin accept these new ideas and people with a warmth and kindness that borders on otherworldly. The biomass technology is really cool, the aid organizations that facilitate this kind of work deserve our undying respect and admiration, and of course the APL Power Pallets are awesome. But that unlikely Berkley-to-Kwendin storyline is what sticks with me, as I sit on a flight back to London from Monrovia, as not just the most interesting narrative, but one of the best human experiences I’ve ever been so lucky to witness. As we wrap up 2015 and get reflective and eggnog-emotional with our toasts and hopes for the new year, we’d all do well to hope for a bit more of this brand of basic human goodness. It’s tricky to find out there at the moment, but in small pockets of this planet, people are making other people’s lives better not for glory or fame or money or prizes, but simply because that’s what they think they should do. Thanks for watching Season 1 of Now What. Happy holidays. -Watch all episodes of Now What here. -Want more? Read all Now What blog posts. — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website. […]