Monday, October 12, 2009

26. Saks Fifth Avenue and Saturn

Dear Followers,

Friday's book signing at Saks Fifth Avenue was a blast! We had almost 50 people, and it was a great opportunity to spread the word and get to meet new readers first hand. Unfortunately, we weren't able to video the event, but over the weekend Laura and Robert Lynch filmed a short talk about The Self-Empowered Woman, which will soon be available. I'll make sure that everyone knows when the video goes online.

Today I'd like to introduce you to another amazing woman. Dr. Carolyn Porco is head of the camera team for the $3.4 billion Cassini Spacecraft, which has been orbiting Saturn for five years. Thanks to her team, astronomers are seeing Saturn's rings in three dimensions for the first time in 400 years.

Dr. Porco, 56, is a senior researcher at Boulder, Colorado's Space Science Institute, was born and raised in a Bronx family with four brothers. Her father was an Italian immigrant who drove a bread truck, her mother was a housewife, and Dr. Porco attended Cardinal Spellman High School (where Justice Sonia Sotomayor was also a student).

By age thirteen (Chapter Two: An Early Sense of Direction) Porco saw Saturn through a neighbor's rooftop telescope, and while she was a graduate student at The California Institute of Technology she got a job helping to analyze data from the two Voyager spacecrafts.

Porco played a guitar and sang in the Titan Equatorial Band (Chapter Nine: Music) and enjoyed having Carl Sagan as a mentor (Chapter Four: Supportive Someone). When I spoke on Friday, I was asked if the women in my book regretted following their dream. I forgot to tell the audience that most high-achievers felt the way Dr. Porco does. When she was chosen in 1990 (over more senior astronomers) the job "swallowed" her life.

She recently told Dennis Overbye of The NY Times "Our experiment has been spectacularly successful...when comes the time, I will die a happy and gratified woman."

Looking forward to your comments...

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