It was very clear on Sunday night.
I had just gotten back into town right as the sun was setting, and it was one of those nights where you could faintly see the Milky Way through the Deneb part of the Summer Triangle, even with the city lights in Hancock doing their orange-hued thing. I got an email—a few, actually—mentioning that there would be a peace march from Walker Hall to the Houghton County Courthouse that evening. I’ll come back to this.
You may or may not have heard, but just as the situation at the University of Missouri, we had an incident of a threat related to race via social media. The suspect was arraigned yesterday morning. The situation is ongoing, and the peace march was in response to the pending arraignment. It was well-attended, and I was proud to see such a mix of faculty, students, staff, and community members.
At literally the same time this situation was unfolding last week, our science writer Allison Mills was hosting a live Twitter session with two researchers looking at the changing demographics in hunting and fishing. You see, in Michigan, the number of people doing either of those activities has been falling. The concern comes from the fact that the DNR gets a good chunk of their funding that way. I don’t hunt or fish, but I do value our state parks, so this is a very important development. I know the opinions on these activities out there are varied and strong—I have my own opinions, too—and having a venue for this dialogue was tremendous.
For better and worse, this past week reminds me of the power of social media. It is a place where we can come together and interact independently of geography in ways not possible at any other time in our history. And while we’ve witnessed some of the ugliness that online anonymity can bring, it’s also a reminder that we can overcome big issues by putting our minds together: socially, politically, and scientifically.
Walking back home to Hancock from the march, I ducked out of the lights on Quincy Street and onto the green of the old school in Hancock. The Pleiades were up in the east, the Hyades right behind them. Below that would be Orion and the faithful Sirius. The crescent moon was setting over the hills to the southwest. Sights that every human in history has shared: everyone who has ever lived looks up at those same stars and planets and galaxies.
Just as we all do now. It is our common birthright, just as it is to live in freedom and security, to be ourselves, and to work for a better world and community. Every person in that march on Sunday—and every person who didn’t—can look up the same way, sharing this wonder all around us that we have in common. We can all also look ahead, forward to those things we share, too. Above is a sky that belongs to us all, and I’m heartened that we’re working on communities, institutions, and lives out to the horizon that we share as equals as well.
I was at the other end of the UP this past weekend, spending some time in St Ignace and the Soo. I got to go to a hockey game at LSSU, a preview of the Arizona State team Tech could face in a post-GLI tournament in January. They were fast and they were persistent, and it was very much a back-and-forth game. I got a puck, too. I should have caught it, but at least I knocked it down in front of myself. And didn’t break my hand. I happened to also be there at the same time our volleyball team was clinching their playoff spot—check out that story and more down in sports.
It’s a Tech tradition this week: students seeing how early they can go home for Thanksgiving. I have one student who gets out in the middle of Wednesday. I don’t remember being able to set up my schedule that well when I was an undergrad…
Check out the news section for a couple of cool research stories out this week. The one on Tarun Dam’s work published in Thyroid is pretty cool. Those of you with more of a science background will find it even cooler, I’m sure—I didn’t quite get all of the big words.
Sad news reached us last week of the passing of Beth Blumhardt, a Houghton native who earned her BS in MSE from Tech. She went on and earned a Master’s degree from the Colorado School of Mines, and worked in Dearborn as a metallurgist at AK Steel.
She was 33.
Reading the obituary, she was an active, adventurous person—a reminder for all of us to go explore what’s possible. I wrote when Justin Fitch passed away that the reincarnation I believe in is the kind where our best traits are carried on in others. For Justin, I’ll remember his dedication, his honesty, and his willingness to give as much as he could in every moment. For Beth, I see her photo—and this text mentions her beautiful smile—and I’ll remember that it’s our friendships, our connections, and our positivity that help to light up the world.
Thanks for reading.