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On Planck’s Law, Blackbodies and the Physics of Diversity

27 Nov 2014, 02:42 UTC
On Planck’s Law, Blackbodies and the Physics of Diversity
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Dr. Jedidah Isler@JedidahIslerPhDReproduced from the June 2014 Issue of STATUS: A Report on Women in Astronomy. The article below is written by Dr. Jedidah Isler, Syracuse University, Department of Physics.Diversity and inclusion are important, yet vexing, issues that we struggle with in every arena. Academia and, more specifically, astronomy are not exempt. Many interpretations of the experiences of diverse people have been offered, but unfortunately, many have fallen short in pivotal ways.As an astrophysicist, I see the beauty and logic that physics allows us to impose on the cosmos, but also on a broader array of issues. Sociophysics, for example, “uses concepts from the physics of disordered matter to describe some aspects of social and political behavior.” [1] I would like, then, to describe a few diversity issues in terms of a physical concept that astronomers are familiar with, namely Planck’s Law. This analogy is not perfect, but it affords us a mechanism to address some of the complexity of diversity conversations and direct us towards more globally beneficial diversity practices.Even before I begin, I acknowledge that I cannot address all aspects of diversity, which includes the full spectrum of ethnicity, class and sexual expression. I focus on the diverse ...

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