Friday, August 11, 2006


(from Webster's) 1. a small hardy naturalized horse of United States western plains directly descended from horses brought in by the Spaniards.

The P-51 MUSTANG was originally produced for the Royal Air Force by North American Aviation. It was later adopted by the US Army Air Force, for the Mustang was one of the finest fighters made. Having a longer range than the P-40, it was able to escort bombers on missions over continental Europe. It was the mount of many famous aces like Chuck Yeager.

Difficult times can bring out the best in a society. During World War 2, the US needed all the pilots it could get. For the first time, African Americans were allowed to be combat pilots. They formed the famous Tuskegee Airmen, and the P-51 was their favourite aircraft. Women were also trained to fly fighters. Aviator Jacqueline Cochran organised the Women's Air Force Service Pilots (WASP's). Many of these P-51's were ferried across the Atlantic by woman pilots.

The shortage of men put large numbers of women into the work force. Rosie the Riveter and her sisters helped win the battle for production. This aeroplane may have been built by women. Wars are won by logistics, and women were the shieldmaidens. They paved the way for women to enter technical fields after the war.

After the war, these swords were hammered into plowshares. The P-51 became a star of the airshow circuit. In 1950, Jacqueline Cochran flew a P-51 to break the speed record for propellor aircraft. With the need passed, nearly all the African and woman pilots were returned to society. Many years later, another generation of women and minorities started appearing in the pilot's seat.

Some of you have faced the challenges to women and minorities in science. No one can deny that they exist. Even if a woman's ideas are better than others, she may be dismissed as a 'crackpot'. If our science and engineering are to stay ahead, we must encourage people to stay in science. A few heroes can pave the way for others to follow. Somehow, freedom and truth always win out.


Blogger QUASAR9 said...

Louise, if you really want to do that, then you should really link up with Christine Dantas, Mandisa, and of course Bee's backreaction.

Each one of you creates one 1 post a week which is posted simultaniously on all four blogs ...

Monday ----- Your post
Tuesday ---- Mandisa
Wednesday -- Christine
Thursday --- Sabine (Bee)

They already have enough material on their blogs to make it easy.
Then cross reference and cross link to related previous posts.
Create one superblog or Megaverse blog. You can even disagree or have alternative views, that is the reality of theoretical physics, and you'll soon start getting more visitors and more serious comments. Intelligent men are not intimidated by women. Knowledge seekers do not care where knowledge comes from, and serious debaters will enter any serious debate ... but no bitching, not catsnipes at men or big brains or rival theories.

Just straight facts, straight theory backed by facts, and pure theory backed by logic.

Co-Ordinated blogging will give all four blogs and all four of you more 'exposure' and better co-ordinated content will attract more science visitors & more comments.

PS - I would have e-mailed you this, but you haven't confirmed you received my last message.

8:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with your opinions, but how does a cheesecake pose advance them?

12:23 PM  
Blogger Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden said...

08 11 06

Interesting post Louise. Quasar9, that is a a novel idea:). And regarding your comment on the previous posts, well I need to investigate what happens in a black hole in the LQG context. I was so obsessed with the non separability of their kin Hspace, that I didn't look into the more physical interpretations. I will do a post exploring your question likely for Monday.

Paul and Michael, that is also an interesting comment. I think we can take that in two ways:
1. Louise is beautiful and confident and has no problems sharing her beauty. She also takes her sensuality into her own hands and refuses to be defined by others.

2.Louise wants attention and has no care for women's rights and will degrade herself for fame.

Frankly, (1) is the most plausible given that she tirelessly advocates for the advancement of women in the sciences. I recall acquainting myself with her in the physics dept at SFSU years ago, she was always consistent with this message.

One of the double edged swords of 70's wave US feminism was that a lot of perceived femininity was bad and if a women wanted to look beautiful, she was either under the "thumb of a man and oppressed" or she hadn't yet seen the light.

Given this day and age, I think that is a fairly myopic view. I think that Louise can pose any way she wishes and should be seen as empowered, rather than "cheesecakish". Sorry for rambling here; it is just that I get so worked up about how we define ourselves as women and also how others define us!

1:16 PM  
Blogger Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden said...

08 11 06

Interestingly enough, Louise and I both covered the liquid methane lakes on Titan but from totally different approaches. I was concerned about the biochemistry of micellar formation and how that may imply life, whereas Louise talked about the formation of the cosmos and how her theory fits into it. Indeed the differing perspectives are intriguing.

1:18 PM  
Blogger Kea said...

Good one, Louise. It is difficult for some people to imagine what it is like being treated like a crackpot continuously. Under those circumstances it is sometimes difficult to keep asserting oneself. You are a great role model.

1:55 PM  
Blogger Rae Ann said...

I agree with Mahndisa's statements about the photos. Men, as well as women, must overcome the notion that pretty and smart can't be in the same person. The first generation feminists certainly set up some real difficulties that they never foresaw. It's a constant struggle for a woman who is smart (and pretty) to have to prove herself and defend her choices. Mahndisa said it perfectly with the phrase "perceived femininity." On the flipside to Louise having to defend her feminine beauty to be taken seriously, some of us who have sacrificed our 'potential' to properly raise our families have to defend that choice of 'feminine lifestyle' against attacks from people (men and women) who accuse us of being 'dependent' or even 'lazy.' Women should never be called the "weaker vessel" because we endure so much more than men. (Is that too much of a "catsnipe at men", Q?)

3:51 PM  
Blogger L. Riofrio said...

Thank you Mahndisa, Kea and Rae Ann for being so supportive. I appreciate your authoritative and thoughtful comments on women's issues. (Nice to hear from you Q9, P & M after so long too. If it is all right with you, I have been adding links.)

Mahndisa, your opinions on everything from LQG to the 1970's feminist movement are informed and valuable. Kea, your perspective from the cutting edge of research is assuring. Rae Ann, what you do is extremely valuable too. Isn't it nice living in a world where women have choices?

This has been a week when it felt like our very freedoms were under attack, starting with our freedom to fly. Elsewhere in the world, some little girl would like to be an Einstein if she were only allowed in school. Some want us wearing the burqua and not venturing out. This happens within the US, UK and Australia too.

It seems easy to ignore that there are threats to women's freedoms. Some say that, as educated elites, they can't get involved. Sometimes women have to defend ourselves. I hope to show that women can have strong opinions even if those opinions are unpopular.

Thanks again to all. Your multiple perspectives on women's experiences are rays of light in a lonely day.

5:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

from Michael (of Paul and Michael),
I am a women-- named Michael-- Do you want to be taken seriuosly or be a sex object? If you want to be taken seriously as a scientist or in any other field, you don't post pictures of yourself posed as a "babe" on the internet.

2:32 PM  
Blogger Kea said...


Whether or not one is taken seriously as a scientist shouldn't have anything to do with how one looks. That's the whole point.

7:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi kea, how true

If one is chasing after the mind then what does it matter what vessel the mind is travelling in ...

If the Spirit shines it makes the vessel shine, if the spirit is faded & jaded, then the vessels beauty fades & becomes jaded too ...

9:30 PM  
Blogger Rae Ann said...

I think that Michael is suffering from our society's influences that tell us that women are supposed to either been seen and not heard, or heard and not seen. Also our society encourages women to be envious of each other's blessings and opportunities, but that is just another way of trying to suppress us. Maybe I've moved on to a more maternal outlook on life and see Louise and think, "If she were my daughter I'd be very proud."

6:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My original complaint was based on context: a frivolous slide used to introduce a serious lecture is distracting. Save the frivolity for the title where it will attract attention, not divert it. For example, "Fast Fourier Transforms for Fun and Profit" was a great one. And "A Babe in the Universe" isn't too bad either.

7:02 AM  
Blogger Christine said...

Louise, if you really want to do that, then you should really link up with Christine Dantas, Mandisa, and of course Bee's backreaction.

And what a diversity! We are so different but at the same time we have the same goal. Is it possible that some day we get together? That would be great. I really like you all: Louise, Mahndisa and Sabine!

If you want to be taken seriously as a scientist or in any other field, you don't post pictures of yourself posed as a "babe" on the internet.

Louise is a happy and free person. I do not find her pictures distracting nor they have anything to do with the issue on whether she is to be taken seriously (scientifically speaking) or not. She is free to write and post whatever she wants, it´s her blog, it´s her style.

Best wishes,

2:49 PM  
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Anonymous Medicine said...

Just straight facts, straight theory backed by facts, and pure theory backed by logic.

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