Today was the 75th birthday of cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, who, on June 16, 1963, became the first woman in space. After a gap of nearly 20 years, the second woman in space was Svetlana Savitskaya, in 1982, followed by the first American woman in space, Sally Ride, in 1983. This is a fairly decent article about Tereshkova’s journey and current life (though be warned of loud ads).
She also had space hair, but to be fair I think everyone did in the 1960s.
Tereshkova’s call sign on Vostok 6 was “Chaika,” or “Seagull,” incidentally the name of my second-favorite Chekhov play. Happy birthday to a brave woman, and here’s hoping both of us live to see man land on Mars.
Once again I’ve abandoned you all for weeks. Midterms plus interviews plus presentations plus pointlessly raging against politics leaves little time for blogging.
But there’s so much exciting STUFF going on, so this is sort of a round-up post.
- Oxygen detected in the atmosphere of one of Saturn’s moons. Dione, not Titan. Which brings us to….
- The Sirens of Titan. I’m on a Kurt Vonnegut kick. I last read most of his books about five years ago, and picked up Cat’s Cradle up at the library a couple weeks ago on a whim. And everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.
- Probably the reason I needed so badly to read some Vonnegut was that the last book I read was The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Which I highly recommend, and all, but which is not something you want to read if you’re looking to feel good about yourself as a member of the human race or of the biological sciences. For my money, the two most important things civilization has given us are science and basic human rights (fancy coffee drinks are a close third). So what happens when those two fundamental values clash? Nothing light-hearted enough to be reading during midterms, that’s for sure.
- But if you want to feel good about something humanity has done, may I suggest our treatment of baby sloths with little teddy bears and bandages that look like jammies? (Preceded, I am afraid, by an advertisement)
- And finally, in case certain ongoing incidents are making you, like me, feel kind of down about the whole history of mankind along with the future of both your gender and your chosen career, and in case the baby sloths did not provide a permanent fix, let me just point out that you are made of atoms whose emergent properties can rather conveniently be altered by atoms that have formed molecules like caffeine or ethanol. So, being alive? All in all, pretty cool.