Today was Earth Day but also the day of many Marches for Science across the planet.
We did our part here in Amsterdam (see also marchforscience.nl): a group of us from the astronomy department here at University of Amsterdam set up a booth and hung out all day answering questions, showing the solar telescopes we couldn’t use because it was too cloudy (typical…) and various movies and visuals about astrophysics on a monitor to lure people in. But unlike many other events, there was no real march, it was all located on the Museumplein in Amsterdam, with a bunch of people milling around between tents and stages, so that’s why I’ve renamed it “mill for science”. It was great fun, though a bit too cold to stand outside for so long. My voice is now raspy because I ended up giving a lot of impromptu lectures using my laptop, and chatting with many interesting/interested people. I was impressed with some of the questions I got from non-scientists, ranging from the expansion of the universe to details of black hole physics. One 13 year old kid knew more about astrophysics than most of the undergrads I teach! Our minister Minister for Education, Culture and Science, Jet Bussemaker, was there, and made optimistic noises about a modest but crucial boost in funding for the sciences here (1 billion Euros sounds like a lot until you see how much we spend on other stuff), let’s hope that comes through.
Here’s a picture of me someone snapped, wearing a huge sweater over my “astrocrew” t-shirt unfortunately but I was freezing!