An Interest in Literature

Question: Why do you like Dr. Who?

Shelley des Etages: He was a scientist who's traveling through space and time without limits.  And he is problem-solving as he goes through the universe.  So he's really a physicist, if you want to try to pick a science.  But it was a television show that I loved as a child growing up, and they've resurrected it now.  And so there's a new version.  They're on the third Dr. Who.  And the ideas and the concepts that it introduces in terms of what are all the possibilities out there?  We always hear about the possibilities.  I like sci-fi in general.  I have seen every episode of Star Trek, The Next Generation.  But it's all about possibilities.  What are all these enormous possibilities out there?  And what are all these questions we can try to solve, whether it's a social question, and ethical question, a scientific question.  These shows pose these problems before you and say, "Hey, how are you going to work your way through this?  How does this society work?  How does this concept work?"  That's the part that I love about them.

Question What would your Dr. Who episode be like?

Shelley des Etages: I would want him to come find me in the lab, because I would want his input on some of my experiments.  But what would it look like if Dr. Who came along on an episode and followed me for a couple of weeks?  They'd see me coming in to work. They'd see me trying to figure out what can we extract as possible targets from some of my data sets?  And he'd comment on whether or not he thought what I was doing was a good idea or a bad idea.  He might drop me a hint now and then.  And then he'd follow me as I headed off home.  He might catch me working with some kids in the community on poetry.  He might catch me at the dojo meditating and hang out and see if he got anything out of the meditation practice.

Question: What is Writer’s Block, Ink?

Shelley des Etages: Writer's Block, Inc. is a local group that works on using performing arts to help kids to be able to react to their society and be proactive about the change they want to bring about in society.  So they write poetry.  They choreograph dances.  They sing.  My connection to the organization, the two reasons, when I was in high school I was in a performing group.  And I enjoy writing poetry, so it's a way to help some other kids get a little bit of experience with something that I experienced when I was growing up that I found very helpful.  So every year the kids come up with an idea for a show.  What's it going to be?  Last year's show, we did two shows last year.  The summer show was called "The Road to Home."  And the whole concept was that you had a group of kids who were relocated from New Orleans because of Hurricane Katrina.  And so they were living in Connecticut, and while here living in Connecticut they heard about the refugees in Darfur and wanted to have a benefit to try to benefit the kids in

Recorded on: 06/25/2008


Dr. Des Etages works at the cutting-edge of science, and science fiction gives her a glimpse of what might be on the other side.

Related Articles

Scientists discover what caused the worst mass extinction ever

How a cataclysm worse than what killed the dinosaurs destroyed 90 percent of all life on Earth.

Credit: Ron Miller
Surprising Science

While the demise of the dinosaurs gets more attention as far as mass extinctions go, an even more disastrous event called "the Great Dying” or the “End-Permian Extinction” happened on Earth prior to that. Now scientists discovered how this cataclysm, which took place about 250 million years ago, managed to kill off more than 90 percent of all life on the planet.

Keep reading Show less

Why we're so self-critical of ourselves after meeting someone new

A new study discovers the “liking gap” — the difference between how we view others we’re meeting for the first time, and the way we think they’re seeing us.

New acquaintances probably like you more than you think. (Photo by Simone Joyner/Getty Images)
Surprising Science

We tend to be defensive socially. When we meet new people, we’re often concerned with how we’re coming off. Our anxiety causes us to be so concerned with the impression we’re creating that we fail to notice that the same is true of the other person as well. A new study led by Erica J. Boothby, published on September 5 in Psychological Science, reveals how people tend to like us more in first encounters than we’d ever suspect.

Keep reading Show less

NASA launches ICESat-2 into orbit to track ice changes in Antarctica and Greenland

Using advanced laser technology, scientists at NASA will track global changes in ice with greater accuracy.

Firing three pairs of laser beams 10,000 times per second, the ICESat-2 satellite will measure how long it takes for faint reflections to bounce back from ground and sea ice, allowing scientists to measure the thickness, elevation and extent of global ice

Leaving from Vandenberg Air Force base in California this coming Saturday, at 8:46 a.m. ET, the Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite-2 — or, the "ICESat-2" — is perched atop a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket, and when it assumes its orbit, it will study ice layers at Earth's poles, using its only payload, the Advance Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS).

Keep reading Show less