Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Ocean Blue Hair = Everyday Space Outreach

Most of us working in space outreach think of it as organized activities, events, blogs, presentations or a social media endeavor. Yet it doesn't stop there - space outreach can be done anytime, anywhere, by design or by serendipity. I can attest to that:

I have naturally silver hair. Not premature greying, but actual shiny silver - similar to the kind of naturally blonde hair color that just *shines*. If you've spent some time in Northern Europe, where I was born, you'll know both colors aren't uncommon there. In my family it's a maternal genetic trait. My grandmother had it, my mom had it and they both hated it, coloring their hair religiously, lest someone suspect they are "going old and grey" too soon. When the silver started taking over my brown-ish childhood tresses by age 20, I, of course, felt the same way. I went brown all my life - until last year, when I got seriously tired of it and wanted a new look. 

The currently fashionable non-standard colors - blue, red, purple and more - require bleaching out one's natural color if it is dark, often multiple times, before the new color shows up blue, red or purple. Plus application of products to minimize the bleaching damage and add that shine. I quickly realized - Hey! I have the *perfect* natural hair to apply those non-traditional colors, with no bleaching mess or damage at all. All I need to do is let my hair keep growing out for a partial electric blue look. One that can be easily changed back to boring brown should professional responsibilities require it. 

I chose electric/sky blue because it represents the heavens, ascent to space and the color of Earth's oceans as seen from space. So I named my color "Earth-from-Space-Blue". 

This is my current color:

I've been getting a lot of comments, compliments and questions about this look, yet none as awesome as what happened at my local post office the other day. A kid of about 9 or 10 was selling candy by the entrance; I saw him checking me out as I locked up my bike. I made eye contact, and he said:

"Wow, I really love your hair. What's the color?"

"It's called "Splat Blue Envy" and you can buy it at any pharmacy."

"Yes, but how do you do it?"

"Well, I can do it without bleaching because I have naturally silver hair. As it grows out, I just paint it blue. I named the color Earth-from-Space Blue, because it's so cool."

Kid gives me a quizzical look: "What does *that* mean?"

I reply: "Do you know that there is a Space Station circling the Earth every 90 minutes? Astronauts have been living on it for 10 years now, taking 1000s of photos of our planet, whenever they are not busy doing amazing science in zero gravity. The cool thing is that many astronauts are on twitter and tweet their photos from space, showing different parts of Earth in real time. That's how I know what oceans from space look like."

Kid now gives me major side-eye, probably thinking I'm messing with him. I'm guessing he had never heard anything about the ISS, nor seen any of the photos. I could guess what he was thinking: "Oh yeah? I'm gonna go google that shyt, you know!"

I smiled at him and thanked him for the compliment. Biking away, I thought: "I hope you do, kid. I hope you do."

Monday, July 28, 2014

AGU13 - NASA Social in San Fransciso

In December 2013, I was honored to be one of 20 applicants selected to attend the NASA Social hosted at the American Geophysicist's Union Annual Fall Meeting - a week-long international conference in San Francisco that that attracts 20,000 Earth and space scientists, educators, students and policy makers from around the world. 

In the process, I received possibly the most interesting scientific conference badge I've ever been issued. Apparently I was grouped as a member of the "NASA Council", which was totally news to me. Not to mention I had no clue what the NASA Council is or its role at AGU 2013, nor did anyone else I asked at the conference. Google revealed no clues either, since I'm pretty sure the badge did not mean to refer to the NASA Advisory Council (NAC).

Could someone fill me in on the back story, if any?