archive: SETI FW: Astronomy in New Zealand?

SETI FW: Astronomy in New Zealand?

Larry Klaes ( )
Mon, 5 Oct 1998 14:58:10 -0400

Would anyone in New Zealand like to help them pursue their
dreams of an astronomical or related science career, plus show
them they are neither alone nor isolated? Thanks! - Larry

From: Roger Smith
Sent: Monday, October 05, 1998 6:20 AM
Subject: "Contact"

Mr Klaes,

I am writing in response to your review of the movie "Contact", which I
discovered on the Internet a couple of days ago.

I am an 18 year old secondary school (high school?) student in my final
year of school, in New Zealand. The small portion of astronomy that I
have learned has come from National Geographics, and an assignment on
astrophysics which was a portion of the internally assessed section of
my Physics course this year. I made to obligatory trip to the local
planetarium when I was in primary school, but I'd have to say that
although I've been fascinated, my experience has been very limited.

When I heard that the movie "Contact" was coming out, I waited with
anticipation for it to open. Then I went along with a friend whose
dream is to be an astronomer, and sat enraptured for the two and a bit
hours. The theatre was rather empty. I loved the movie so much, I went
along a second time. This time it had been moved to a smaller theatre,
and there were even less people there.

As I said, I enjoyed it, but I wanted to know how scientifically
accurate it was. I'm glad to hear that it was generally accurate,
although some of the obvious flaws didn't wash with me either.

I'm really writing to say how glad I am that you and other scientist
have posted websites for people like me to access. New Zeland is a very
small country, of 3.4 million people, and as such has no hope of
offering a space programme. One cannot even study aeronautical
engineering here. Out of the five subjects I am sitting my university
exams in this year, three are sciences: Science is what I love. But
where I am in the world means that astronomy is one of those distant
dreams, a sort of Hollywood bubble that doesn't exist. So I have
decided to persue more biological interests.

But I still enjoy the mind-stretching universe that "Contact" showed. I
can see that it was obviously pared down to suit the movie-going public,
but I was tantilised by the glimpse it gave me.

I envy you in your chosen career, and that you had the opportunity to
persue it. I hope you continue in your work bringing the Universe to
students, to those of us more wrapped up with our "speck of dust".

Annabel Smith

-- Roger SmithTe Whare Ra WinesTel (03) 572 8581Fax (03) 572 8518email