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Ilana Ross Headshot

I Should've Been A Famous Scientist!

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I'm no Sheryl Sandberg or big time nerd, but I do read a lot of articles about women and science, and recently there's been some discussion of gender disparity and bias in the field. As I understand it--and I don't claim to--it seems there's a shortage of female astronauts. And though we suspended trips to the moon, feminists and others still believe there's room for more women in science.

But even a superficial understanding of the current debate has me feeling a little insecure. Because, I was one of those young girls who stopped being interested in science when it became about more than dropping an egg in a parachute off a building and watching it splat. When I took astronomy in college, I thought there'd be more myth and emotion instead of numbers and physics. Imagine my surprise (and disappointment) when I learned that the Pleiades weren't seven feuding sisters, but that they were just old balls of gas, unimportant details in word problems about velocity and mass.

And now, just days from the biggest asteroid buzz to come this close to Earth ever, only half of our population will understand just what that means. I'm talking about the 50% of us who read Scientific American.

This movement to get girls into science came too late for me, and so here I am, just another undirected Religious Studies major-with-an-emphasis-in-Western-philosophy major.

I thought the answers to life -- my own life, not yours or his or everyone else's -- were more likely to be found in a deeply personal memoir a book of short stories. Now, I realize that science was the key, and that transferable work skills are concrete things like engineering and medicine. It strikes me now that my interests might only make me qualified to start my own blog.

As much as we celebrate writers and poets as speakers of truth, sometimes I can't help but think that the real voice of a generation is someone like Stephen Hawking. Because his gravelly pitch is iconic, but also because he helped in discovering the truth of all generations, the origins of life on earth!

Nothing I write or pin on pinterest or tweet will ever help us discover the foundational truth of being human and how we got here, and why the sky is blue.

In the fight against personal insignificance, I worry that not being able to contribute to the scientific world is a major hindrance. When I die in 70 years as a result of a freak Volcanic eruption, and I'm sinking in the molten lava, will I have mattered at all?

And what is matter?