1932

Abstract

Dear readers: We are sad to report that, soon after submitting her draft manuscript for this prefatory chapter, Nancy Grace Roman passed away on December 25, 2018. This final version of her memoir has been lightly edited but remains very true to the original. However, an Abstract was missing. Rather than trying to synthesize one in Nancy Grace's inimitable style, we take this opportunity to comment briefly on her life and its significance.

Nancy Grace Roman was born in 1925 and came of age scientifically in the United States during the 1940s and 1950s. Together with the equally fascinating prefatory by Vera Rubin (, Vol. 49), which we also recommend to you, these two memoirs give us intimate insight into the obstacles faced by women astronomers trying to rise in the field during those years. Roman's memoir is bitingly candid, recounting numerous snubs by teachers, insultingly small salaries, and attempts by her thesis advisor to simultaneously exploit her scientific findings and smother her role in them. Discouragement at every turn from doing forefront research is what drove Roman into government service, where she found a niche and blossomed as one of the visionary founders of the US civilian space program. We do not know what impact Roman might have had as a researcher with access to the world's largest telescopes, but we do know that her influence as an enabler of other people's science was vast. Her sobriquet as the “Mother of ,” bestowed by admirer Ed Weiler, is well deserved.

Nancy Grace granted an audio interview to Joss Bland-Hawthorn on August 4, 2018, just a few months before her passing. It captures her persona more vividly than mere words on paper, and we recommend the online recording to you at .

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2019-08-18
2024-04-22
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Literature Cited

  1. Launius RD, Devorkin DH 2014. Hubble's Legacy: Reflections by Those Who Dreamed It, Built It, and Observed the Universe with It Washington, DC: Smithson. Inst. Sch. Press
  2. Roman NG. 1950. Ap. J 112:554
  3. Roman NG. 1955. Ap. J. Suppl. 2:195
  4. Zimmerman R. 2008. The Universe in a Mirror: The Saga of the Hubble Space Telescope and the Visionaries Who Built It Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press
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