Tech UPTechnologyVera Rubin and dark matter

Vera Rubin and dark matter

Vera’s childhood is an example of how family education influences people’s future, both personally and professionally. Vera Florence Cooper was born on July 23, 1928 , in Philadelphia, United States. His father, Philip Cooper was a Jewish electrical engineer emigrated from Poland who worked at Bell Telephone. His mother, Rose Applebaum, had a calculus degree and also worked at Bell. Vera’s penchant for astronomy began in 1938, when the Cooper family moved to Washington. Vera’s childhood was happy, with a family that lived with some economic comfort in the middle of a time of recession that meant a time of hardship for thousands of people.

When he was only fourteen years old, he wanted to build his own telescope. To achieve his goal, he used cardboard and reused the magnifying lenses of two magnifying glasses. He achieved his goal, and this is how he remembers it years later in his response to a journalist: “I couldn’t stop looking at the stars. What’s more, it seemed inconceivable to me that everyone wasn’t as fascinated as I was by that spectacle of little lights spinning in the night». Vera’s vocation as an astronomer came to Vera from her childhood and she let her parents know since then. His new bedroom in Washington had something to do with it, or maybe it was a fluke. The truth is that the window was located directly in front of her, in such a way that the last thing she saw before closing her eyes was the slow movement of the stars in the sky. Through that same window is where he makes a “scientific study” at the age of twelve that leads him to some nice conclusions.

He learned from the newspapers that Washington was going to see a shower of stars, so he prepared himself in front of his window to watch the spectacle. Vera thought they were real stars and not small objects that caught fire on contact with the Earth’s atmosphere. She wanted to know how many would be left in the sky after the rain so she would know which ones would accompany her at night while she slept. So he drew on a piece of paper all the stars he thought had fallen and thought that the number of stars in the sky was still huge. Her parents smiled fondly when the would-be astronomer showed them her “discovery.” But more than a children’s map and children’s conclusions, what their parents saw was a star map with the constellations placed correctly .

Her parents, modern and open for the time, encourage Vera to continue with her passion for astronomy. But at school the same thing did not happen, because they try to take from her head a professional future that they consider fully masculine . “As long as you’re away from science, you’ll be fine, miss,” her Physics teacher ends up telling her when she graduates from high school at the age of sixteen. A teacher even encouraged her to dedicate herself to painting decorative astronomical scenes.

But his vocation was so clear that he got his degree in Astronomy in 1948, a month before his twentieth birthday. In September of the same year she would marry Robert Rubin, a physicist-chemist whose parents were friends of Vera’s parents. They had been presented with the hope that they would join and it seems that the spark of love lit. They had three boys and one girl.

Neither marriage nor the great rejections due to her feminine condition keep her from her scientific dream. In fact, he ends up doing a doctorate at Cornell University. Her great discoveries in the world of astronomy were ignored by a guild that did not take her seriously. However, time ended up proving him right and his ideas had to be accepted, albeit decades later. So he was ignored with his work on the rotation curves of galaxies in which he made it clear with his colleague Kent Ford that the speed of rotation of the stars in a galaxy was not what was expected by Newton’s laws. It did not matter if they were in the center of the galaxy or on the periphery, all the stars seemed to have the same speed . And he provided evidence for it, starting with Andromeda and continuing with sixty other galaxies. This discovery is one of the strongest evidence for the existence of dark matter in the universe.

Vera Rubin died in 2016, at the age of 88, without winning the Nobel Prize, but many great honors from the world of astronomy.

How are lightning created?

Summer is synonymous with sun, but also with storms. Who has not contemplated one from the protection that the home gives that electrical display that is lightning?

How global warming will affect astronomy

Astronomical observations around the world will worsen in quality as a result of climate change, according to a new study.

Planetary heat wave rips through Jupiter's atmosphere

A heat wave is sweeping through Jupiter's northern hemisphere with temperatures reaching 700°C and has been created from a particularly intense aurora borealis.

These are the most Earth-like exoplanets

Among the more than 5,000 exoplanets discovered to date, these are some of the most similar in size, mass, temperature or star to the one they orbit.

Neutron stars aren't really stars.

Neutron stars are not true stars, although, thank goodness, they are made of neutrons.