WFSJ Book Talk – Neutron Stars: The Quest to Understand the Zombies of the Cosmos with Katia Moskvitch

WHEN: Thursday, Oct 29, at 2pm London / 10am EDT (US) / 7:30pm New Delhi

REGISTRATION: https://forms.gle/B1wnAF9Z3tvGbV1S8

Enigmatic objects, neutron stars are spinning cores of dead stars. There’s still so much we don’t know about them. But what we do know is mind-blowing. I’ve written a book on neutron stars, aimed at a general audience, high school pupils and university students. The book is different from other books on this topic. In fact, I believe that this is the first popular science book ever written that is not merely on pulsars but on neutron stars in general, uniting astrophysics, particle physics, nuclear physics, astronomy and cosmology. 

I cover the science in a language suitable for a lay audience and describe a very broad variety of fields connected to neutron star research. The book is fast-paced, with engaging, easy to understand quotes from many amazing researchers I interviewed. For example, one chapter deals with planets orbiting dead stars – their discovery and how a planet might even exist around a neutron star. Another chapter talks about the debate on whether the odd signals we’ve registered coming from our Galactic center are from hidden pulsars we can’t see with our current technology or from dark matter. I talk about the 2017 neutron star merger and the detection of gravitational waves, the race to discover the optical counterpart and solving the mystery of formation gold and platinum. Yet another chapter talks about the inside of a neutron star. I describe what we think is likely to happen as we move towards the inner core. I talk about superfluids and the research done on Earth with helium, the neutron ‘soup’ and a possible quark inner core. 

Throughout the book, I also explain the basics. I explain how pulsars emit radio waves as they spin, how we can detect them, what are millisecond pulsars and what are magnetars, how a neutron star could become a black hole, how and why radio pulsars occasionally glitch, and more. Finally, I discuss the recent discovery of fast radio bursts, brief pulses that astronomers are still struggling to explain but that may well be generated by neutron stars. 

Katia Moskvitch is a science writer and an astrophysicist. In the past, she worked as a reporter and editor at WIRED, Nature, BBC and contributed to Scientific American, the Economist, Science and other publications. She loves space and our quest to unlock the mysteries of the Universe. Her latest book, “Neutron Stars: The Quest to Understand the Zombies of the Cosmos” has had stellar reviews, including by a Nobel laureate Joe Taylor. 

WFSJ announces member fee amnesty

Organizations like ours have faced an unprecedented array of challenges this year, which have in many cases caused serious financial hardship. For just this reason, the Board of Directors voted today to declare a fee amnesty for all of its existing members over the next year. It is our sincere hope that this measure will provide some relief and assistance when it is needed most.

As for the challenges that WFSJ itself has faced during the course of 2020, the WFSJ Board of Directors also voted to move the date of its next Annual General Meeting to March 15, 2021. This step was taken after careful consideration of the need to implement human resource and infrastructure changes that will be critical to serving a broad array of members and partners.

This publicly accessible, virtual event will review WFSJ’s finances during 2019 and 2020, as well as offering details about the next major conference, to be held in Medellin, Colombia in 2022. The presentation will also outline other aspects of WFSJ’s business plan and strategy for 2021 and beyond. Board members will be available to respond to comments, questions, and suggestions from the audience.

All interested members are welcome to attend and we look forward to their participation.

Changes at the World Federation of Science Journalists

WFSJ, like so many organizations that have been challenged by the unprecedented events of 2020, has undergone a close examination of its values, its mandate, and above all its approach to serving a broad constituency of members and partners.

After careful deliberation and review, the WFSJ Board of Directors is taking a number of steps to become more agile and responsive to the needs of these constituents. Among the first of the changes to be made in the next few weeks is in the area of human resources, which will ensure that we have the appropriate skill set and necessary financial resources to meet the needs of a rapidly changing world.

For this reason, the Board has arrived at an amicable parting of ways with our current Executive Director, Christophe Bourillon-Girard. We thank Christophe for his service and wish him the best in his future endeavours.His departure is part of an internal reorganization that will improve the services we provide, including a much more interactive Web presence and a variety of activities leading up to our next international conference taking place in Medellin, Colombia. We are looking forward to presenting details to all interested parties soon, including an open forum where Board members can respond directly to any questions that arise. Our goal is to use the remainder of 2020 to set the stage for a very exciting 2021, and we look forward to welcoming all of those who will join us on this journey.