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July 19, 2006


Dave Finley, Public Information Officer
Socorro, NM
(505) 835-7302

Observatory Publishes Memoir of Pioneer Radio Astronomer

One of the pioneers of radio astronomy tells her story of the formative years of that science in a memoir published by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. Dr. Nan Dieter Conklin's book, Two Paths to Heaven's Gate, recounts her experiences making important scientific discoveries in an era when astronomy's "vision" was first extending beyond the light discernable to human eyes.

Book Cover


Conklin's story is remarkable not only because of her impressive scientific achievements, but also "because she was a woman who nevertheless pursued and succeeded in science -- the first U.S. woman whose Ph.D. thesis was based on her own radio astronomy research and the first U.S. woman to publish original radio astronomy research in a refereed journal -- and because she lived and worked with the degenerative disease multiple sclerosis," according to Claire Hooker of the University of Toronto.

In the memoir, Conklin recounts her career and life from the awakening stirred by her first astronomy course at Goucher College in Baltimore, to junior research jobs in Washington, D.C., to graduate school at Harvard and ultimately to the faculty of the University of California at Berkeley.

In addition to providing an insider's view of the process of scientific discovery, Conklin also gives the reader a fascinating look at a scientific community and social structure that, though only a half-century removed from the present, was vastly different from today's.

Along the way, Conklin candidly reveals the person behind the science -- the person who dealt with the joys and tragedies of life while remaining dedicated to unlocking the secrets of the Universe. "Nan was and remains an inspiration to myself and hundreds of others in the field, both for her scientific acumen and for her ability to overcome extraordinary personal challenges," said Miller Goss of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation, operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc.

Two Paths to Heaven's Gate (ISBN 0-9700411-1-X) is available from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. Copies cost $10.00 each prepaid, with an additional per copy shipping and handling charge of $3.00 for U.S., $14.00 for Canada/Mexico, and $20 to other non-U.S. addresses. Checks payable to NRAO should be sent to:

NRAO Archives
520 Edgemont Rd.
Charlottesville VA 22903, USA

Please include a full shipping address, or a completed copy of the order form found here.

Modified on Wednesday, 19-Jul-2006 13:23:41 EDT