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Omissions, errata, abridgments

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SUSAN PETRIE, SENIOR EDITOR, [email protected]

The blog Time’s Flow Stemmed includes an anonymous entry called “Nothing Compared to the Stars,” which quotes a letter written by Caroline Herschel. Herschel (1750-1848) was the first woman to be awarded a Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society and she — with her brother William — built England’s Great Forty-Foot Telescope, the largest in the world for five decades.

In the letter, Herschel says, “William is away and I am minding the heavens. I have discovered eight new comets and three nebulae never before seen by man, and I am preparing an Index to Flamsteed’s observations, together with a catalogue of 560 stars omitted from the British Catalogue, plus a list of errata in that publication. … I actually like that he is busy with the Royal society and his club, for when I finish my other work I can spend all night sweeping the heavens. Sometimes when I am alone in the dark, and the universe reveals yet another secret, I say the names of my long-lost sisters forgotten in the books that record our science — Aganice of Thessaly, Hypatia, Hildegard, Catherina Hevelius, Maria Agnesi. …

Susan PetrieIn the U.K., U.S., and Australia, March marks Women’s History Month, and I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge with enthusiasm the recent and tremendous efforts being made to revise, correct, and populate the long-neglected public narrative regarding women scientists.

Today, Twitter is aflame with news of girls’ and women’s STEM accomplishments. Optics and photonics conferences now host — thanks to Jess Wade and Maryam Zaringhalam — STEM Wikipedia Edit-a-Thons to make sure the permanent and digital records include women. Organizations such as 500 Women Scientists, WiSTEE Connect (Connecting Women in Science, Tech, Engineering, and Entrepreneurship), the Association for Women in Science, and SPIE’s Women in Optics are building a new record. In 2020, we are luckier than the second-century astronomer Aganice, once labeled a sorceress.

Laura Bassi. Ada Lovelace. Katherine Johnson. Chien-Shiung Wu. Maria Mitchell. Grace Hopper. Rosalyn Sussman Yalow. Barbara McClintock. Maria Goeppert Mayer. Marie Curie. Gerty Cori. Lise Meitner. Rita Levi-Montalcini. The list of long-lost sisters is immense.

Look up their accomplishments — from NASA to Nobel Prizes to nuclear physics. As you would learn a foreign language, articulate their names and accomplishments, say them out loud and in sentences, remember how it feels in your mouth, repeat often; reference their names and accomplishments at home and in public conversations. Let’s wake the silent narrative and be the bridge that carries it into reality.

In this month’s issue, Valerie C. Coffey, science writer, offers a look inside smart factories. Tracey Jones of Ocean Insight talks about the Spectroscopy Star competition. Andrea Armani, the Ray Irani chair in chemical engineering and materials science at USC, discusses the first-ever Photonics Online Meetup.

Additionally, Devinder Saini and Ron Mehl of Fiberguide discuss metasurfaces in fiber optics. Hank Hogan writes about developments with metamaterials. Researchers Vijayakumar Anand and Joseph Rosen examine coded aperture correlation holography, and Francesco Mondadori of Opto Engineering reveals changes in telecentric lenses.

Photonics Spectra
Mar 2020

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