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Dr. Julie Rathbun🌋 @LokiVolcano
, 21 tweets, 5 min read Read on Twitter
Ugh! I'm trying to figure out my own feelings on this and to only get into the conversation if I have something useful to add. So, here are my thoughts on #UltimaThule
I do think a different "nickname" should have been used. Ultima Thule is difficult to say and has some negative connotations. And, there's a lot of good words without any negative connotations, so why go there?
We (westerners, americans) tend to use so much from Western mythology and culture, but there are a ton of great ideas out there from other places. Ideas that haven't been messed up yet. (We might run into issues with cultural appropriation, but that's another conversation).
What I want to talk about is, what do we do now? NASA is not going to change the name (not that we shouldn't stop the pressure, it will hopefully stop this from becoming the "official" name), so what are the scientists and public commentators to do with it?
I don't have all the answers. But, as a practicing planetary scientist I could be in a similar position some day. In fact, I've been in a similar position on another mission. So, I'm specifically asking what team members and other planetary science types can do now.
One possibility is to stop using #UltimaThule now and start (or continue) using #MU69. Or, use both so that people who aren't using the former can still find your tweets about the mission and the flyby. Make the later hashtag more popular than the former.
I'm not sure official NASA folks have the option of not using Ultima Thule, so I might also suggest using the hashtag #FuckNazis or #punchNazis. Make it clear, in no uncertain terms, that you are not using this name to support Nazis.
I hate that this isn't an obvious position. But, we live in a world where these things happen:… and…
I ask my friends on the science team: do you want to accidentally be associated with a far-right or Nazi group?
How could the team as a whole send the message that they don't tolerate Nazis? How about naming craters and other features after known Nazi-fighters?
I regret that I don't have any immediate suggestions (product of the US educational system), but I know folks out there will have loads.
What are some good names of people, places, or ideas that are very and obviously anti-Nazi? Let's crowd source a list of names. Even if we do get the name changed eventually (And I hope we do), I'd still love to see this as the feature names.
Also, this controversy is not ruining my enjoyment of the flyby. As scientists, we often argue that all knowledge is good, so why sweep this knowledge under the rug? NASA messed up with this one, but the flyby is a tremendous accomplishment.
As the team are working their asses off right now. They have sleeping bags set up in mission operations so that folks can catch a little bit of sleep between pouring over images and other data.
I'm very much looking forward to seeing the images and will be attending the 2 pm press conference. I can't wait to find out what a Kuiper Belt object looks like up close!
I want to retract part of this: . We do have the power to make NASA change the name. They should change the name. I should not have made it sound like I suggest we give up on that.
Ugh. I messed up again, NASA didn't pick the nickname, the team did. This mission is a PI led mission and not run the same way other mission are. I'm not an expert on how the name was chosen and what it will take to get it changed.
Also, NASA and Planetary science is general are a community with a lot of problems and problematic history. One of the earliest rocket scientists working for NASA was von Braun, a Nazi.
The field is far too white with far too many people with a similar background and frame of reference. Members of underrepresented groups are too often talk to keep their heads down and not to make waves.
I give a huge thank you to the woman who wrote the article (not putting in her handle, as she's protected her account) and others who are working their asses off fighting to make the science community and the science we do better.
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