I listened over the weekend to a story on the podcast of the radio show Studio 360 about Wanda Diaz-Merced, a blind astronomer. She is working hard at “sonification” — representing astronomical data in sound rather than in graphs. Of course, this works best for certain kinds of data — I gather from the piece that she has specialized in x-ray time series — and this seems to be the basis of her research as a graduate student at Harvard’s Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.
I was bowled over by the passion and energy evident in the interview. I spend all of my days reading papers, staring at screens or pages of equations and graphs; were I to lose my sight I can’t conceive of how I would be able to go on as an astrophysicist. I hope that Ms Diaz-Merced finds all of the support she needs in our field — and great data to which to apply her techniques.