Brainy Quote of the Day

Friday, March 16, 2018

17 Minutes...

Topics: Commentary, Civics, Civil Rights, Existentialism, Politics

Type Muzzle Velocity Web Links
38 pistol        830
9-mm      1150
M-16      2900
AR-15      3241
25-06 Deer      3440

The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb,
The leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
The calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
And a little child shall lead them. Isaiah 11:6

The Excel graph and table compares the muzzle velocities of different firearms in feet per second (FPS). The physics of bullets and bodies can be tremendously horrible, as Gina Kolata and C. J. Chivers in the New York Times attests. Maureen Downey in the Atlantic Journal Constitution reports trained police officers have an 18% accuracy rate in a gunfight. Arming teachers is not a solution towards an "armed and polite society": it is the recipe for future bloodbaths, supplied by young bodies.

In the Y2K scare days (they seem mild in comparison to current events), my oldest son was shouted "WHITE POWER" at from the front of our lawn in Cedar Park, Texas by the occupants of a passing pickup truck. It was 1999, and everyone was getting "Apocalypse crazy." I promptly went to a pawn shop and purchased a Gloc 9 mm to protect my wife and his younger brother. I've since sold it. I admit it was a reaction to what for most African Americans is a real and historical evidence-induced fear of a crazed lynch mob. It is dissimilar completely to the irrational fears chronicled in Scientific American by Jeremy Adam Smith: "Why Are White Men Stockpiling Guns?" I can pretty much guarantee it wasn't because some Panther Party member shouted "BLACK POWER" from their front lawns.

If I said my sister's name, you wouldn't find it in a history book. She, like these youth was a part of a movement. It was the reason we have the Civil Rights Act, Voting Rights Act (under attack) and the Fair Housing Act. It was the Civil Rights movement in the 1960's. She was and is my hero. It was a time of lambs becoming lions.

It was the youth then that drove the change in laws, first at the Woolworth counter in Greensboro that eventually got rid of the "whites only"; "blacks only" signs ubiquitous at the time. There were nervous days when she was arrested, hosed, beaten...I just become emotional typing it out. The sacrifices were not trivial then, or now.

I also become emotional when children are killed. We failed them as a nation in Sandy Hook. The imbeciles then and now that labeled the parents and now young citizens as "crisis actors" are the vilest of humanity. They are not to be argued with, but pitied.

It appears the youth have found their voice: in organizing this impressive, symbolic walkout; by organizing the March for Our Lives on the 24th of this month. Also by realizing they have another power: voting. They have promised to vote in 2018 when many will first turn 18, 2020 and thereafter.

If there had not been an assault on their peace at a place they once considered safe, they would be sharing ear buds listening to music, gossiping and arguing on social media apps. They would have looked at Civics as antiquated, something their parents concerned themselves with. Nothing about who was president or which party was in power would have mattered. For the children at Parkland, nothing changed their fortunate and quite privileged lives...except the massacre visited on their doorsteps last Valentine's Day. The irony is like the opioid crisis vs. the crack cocaine epidemic, the difference in approach tends to correlate with zip codes. Black Lives Matter was their most recent prototype for the usage of social media to prove a point.

No more. Without specifically mentioning "intersectionality," their online, in-person and grass roots rainbow campaign has remarkably achieved it.

There will be those who tell them unceremoniously to "shut up." There will be threats both frivolous and genuinely deadly. There may be nervous days, hosing, beatings and worse. Don't listen and don't let them kowtow you. You are STRONGER than you know; you are stronger than THEM - and they KNOW it. Reagan won the youth vote 61 - 30 in the 1980's. They can't do that anymore. Jonathan Chait of NY Magazine says you are younger, more diverse, more liberal and know your power. They - the old, ossified fossils - are dying off, and they are TERRIFIED.

Children - then, and now - will lead us. It is always when lambs are slaughtered, lions are eventually stirred, and roar.

Analog signs have been supplemented with websites. Fliers have been updated to Facebook Live and Snap Chat. They are still marching as did their ancestors. That's what lions do.

10:00 am, children walked out en masse on the one month observance of the massacre when people are usually struggling with restaurant invitations, candies given to sweethearts or lamentations of not having one. 17 minutes for 17 lives lost.

The 15th of February, during African American History Month, they became adults; they became LIONS. You've taken "social justice warrior" from pejorative to movement.

#ENOUGH!...and thank you.

Related links:

A generation raised on gun violence sends a clear message to adults: Enough is enough, Holly Yan and Emanuella Grinberg, CNN
Brittany Packnett: This is how we talk about the black victims of gun violence in America, Anthony Smith, MIC
Three Accidental School Shootings in One Week — the Latest by a Teacher in a Gun Safety Class, Mark Keierleber, The 74 Million (14 March 18)

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Pi Departure...

Poker with Data, Einstein, Hawking, and Sir Isaac Newton on the Holodeck

Filming the scene with Professor Hawking

Images from Star Trek tribute to Professor Hawking

Topics: Physics, Physics and Pop Culture, Star Trek, Stephen Hawking

BBC: World renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has died at the age of 76.

He died peacefully at his home in Cambridge in the early hours of Wednesday, his family said.

The British scientist was famed for his work with black holes and relativity, and wrote several popular science books including A Brief History of Time.

There are a myriad of tributes to Professor Hawking from around the world. It is apropos for him, as well as poetic he passed on Pi Day and Albert Einstein's 139th birthday. Both were extraordinary and complicated men.

Less so than the world we live in, where a former campaign manager in France says to a right wing Le Pen crown to where their racism "as a badge of honor." That the president* he helped a foreign government select for us called the nations on the birth continent of the human species as well as Caribbean nations "s--- hole countries."

We are being pushed inexorably from the Age of Enlightenment into the overbearing arms of our lesser angels. Professor Carl Sagan's "candle in the dark" is being snuffed by bigotry, homophobia, misogyny, xenophobia and every "ism" you can modify a noun with. The Dark Ages were about scientific ignorance as well as emotional and irrational fear. Some of us seem determined that those were our "better days."

He wasn't supposed to live beyond his twenties. Perhaps with something like his pluck and determination, we can beat back fascism as he defied the odds of his own existence.


BBC: Stephen Hawking: Visionary physicist dies aged 76
Nature: Stephen Hawking (1942–2018)

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Si Qubits and Quantum Computers...

Artist’s impression of the two-qubit logic gate device developed at UNSW. Each of the two electron qubits (red and blue) has a spin, or magnetic field, indicated by the arrow directions. Metal electrodes on the surface are used to manipulate the qubits, which interact to create an entangled quantum state.
(credit: Tony Melov/UNSW)

Topics: Computer Science, Quantum Computer, Quantum Mechanics

A new two-qubit quantum processor that is fully programmable and single electron spins that can be coherently coupled to individual microwave-frequency photons are two of the latest advances in the world of solid-state spin-based quantum computing. The breakthroughs could help in the development of large-scale spin-based processors in the future.

While classical computers store and process information as "bits" that can have one of two logic states – "0" or "1" – a quantum computer exploits the ability of quantum particles or bits (qubits) to be in a "superposition" of two or more states at the same time. Such a device could, in principle, outperform a classical computer on certain tasks, such as factoring large prime numbers and sorting large random lists, thanks to it being massively parallel.

In recent years, researchers have succeeded in making qubits from a number of solid-state materials, including semiconducting quantum dots and superconductors. Semiconductor spin qubits appear to be better for a number of reasons. For one, they last for a relatively long time before decohering (interacting with their environment). They can also be controlled electrically and can be integrated with high density on a chip.

The problem, however, is that it is still difficult to control the state of individual spin qubits and intertwine multiple qubits in a controlled way.

Silicon qubits show promise for quantum computers, Belle Dumé,

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

I Am Not Your Negro...

James Baldwin, in the new documentary I Am Not Your Negro.
Dan Budnik/Magnolia Pictures

Topics: African Americans, Civil Rights, Diaspora, Diversity, Diversity in Science, History, Women in Science

A Facebook post I made responding to some of the president's* supporters wanting a "white history month" (last chance to disengage before the rant):

365 - 28 = 337 freaking days! You freaked out over President Obama when you had 232 years of white male rule that only changed parties. You freaked out on Black Panther, when you had THREE Thor movies. Speaking of which, you freaked out when Idris Elba played Heimdall and Tessa Thompson played Valkyrie in Thor: Ragnarök. You lost it when Kate Mulgrew played Captain Janeway on Star Trek Voyager; you had a conniption fit over Avery Brooks as Commander, then Captain Benjamin Sisko on Star Trek Deep Space Nine and you almost had a Grand Mal seizure over Sonequa Martin-Green on Star Trek Discovery! Don’t let me get started on how the sad/rabid puppies attacked NK Jemisin on having the audacity to WIN the Hugo and Nebula Awards for EXCELLENT science fiction that didn't center around gene spliced clones of Buck Rogers, John Wayne, James T Kirk and Han Solo! In other words, how emotionally butt-hurt do you have to be where ANYTHING that doesn’t involve your culture as front-and-center of the plot line is an all-hands-on-deck existential crisis? Get some therapy and switch to Decaf!

Rant over. Read the title and listen to the embed videos. Definition with ramrod straightened back follows. Blog break during spring break next week and the rest of this one to prep for midterms. \\//_

Definition of negritude (Merriam Webster)
1 : a consciousness of and pride in the cultural and physical aspects of the African heritage
2 : the state or condition of being black

The Harlem Renaissance inspired Negritude. Authors such as Claude McKay and Langston Hughes laid groundwork for black expression. Senghor, Damas and Césaire together drew influence from their work. Other artistic influences were jazz and earlier fin-de-siècle poets such as Rimbaud, Mallarmé and Baudelaire.

Negritude responded to the alienated position of blacks in history. The movement asserted an identity for black people around the world that was their own. For Césaire and Damas, from Martinique and French Guiana, the rupture from Africa through the Atlantic Slave Trade was a great part of their cultural understanding. Their work told of the frustration and loss of their motherland. For Senegalese Senghor, his works focused more on African traditionalism. In ways the assertion of each poet diverges from each other, but the combination of different perspectives is also what fueled and fed Negritude. Black Past dot org: Negritude

Fimmaker Raoul Peck's Oscar-nominated documentary I Am Not Your Negro features the work of the late writer, poet, and social critic James Baldwin. Baldwin's writing explored race, class and sexuality in Western society, and at the time of his death in 1987, he was working on a book, Remember This House. It was never completed, but his notes for that project became the foundation for Peck's I Am Not Your Negro.

Among those notes was a letter J Baldwin wrote to his literary agent, Jay Acton, in 1979. In that letter, he wrote that he wanted to explore the lives of three of his civil rights movement contemporaries and close personal friends: Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X. "I want these three lives to bang against and reveal each other as in truth they did," he wrote, "and use their dreadful journey as a means of instructing the people whom they loved so much who betrayed them and for whom they gave their lives."

Peck had been wanting to make a film about Baldwin for years, but he says it felt like an impossible one to make. When he first read Baldwin's letter, he knew he had the basis for that film. "I had access to those notes, which for me was the real opening I needed to address the film I wanted to make — which was how do I make sure that people today come back to Baldwin and the important writer that he was, and the important words that he have written, and [have] this well-needed confrontation with reality today with words that he wrote 40, 50 years ago?"

The Haitian-born filmmaker has been a fan of Baldwin's writing since he was a teenager. "He helped me understand the world I was in," Peck says. "He helped me understand America. He helped me understand the place I was given in this country."

'I Am Not Your Negro' Gives James Baldwin's Words New Relevance
Mallory Yu, NPR, heard on "All Things Considered"

Related link:

Tamron Hall: Unapologetically black and American, Jonathan Capehart, Washington Post

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Your Wall...

Originally published in the evening newspaper, the Winston-Salem Sentinel. The handwriting is my mother's note to her brother, my Uncle James: "This is Reggie. Your nephew. My son." They are both with the ancestors now. RIP - rest in power.

Topics: African Americans, Civil Rights, Diaspora, Diversity, Diversity in Science, History, Women in Science

This is a photo that should not have happened. Since I volunteer to teach SAT math, I use it as an inspiring story, especially to young women and men that share my same cultural experience. I've posted this photo, or one like it before. It occurred to me I've never told the story behind it.

When I was in the ninth grade at Atkins High School in Winston-Salem, NC, Major Thomas L. May and Sergeant Major Dennis R. Casey - my Army ROTC instructors - invited the Cadet Brigade Commander of Winston-Salem, Forsyth County Schools. Cadet Colonel Wall was tall and lithe, blond-haired and steely blue-eyed; his rank represented by three shiny diamond-shaped metal insignias on his uniform collar, or in many cases his shirt collar. He spoke to each ROTC class and conducted a rank inspection. During class time after the inspection, I approached the-then Brigade Commander, impressed with his ribbons and medals, not knowing what else to say with a nonchalant question: "how did you achieve your rank?" I thought I was making a rhetorical statement. He took it as I was asking for me: "YOUR KIND will never get to this rank!" he exclaimed.

"Your kind"...I was dumbfounded and silent with rage. "Your kind" was an insult to my mother and father, whom he had never met. "Your kind" castigated my sister, who as a young woman put her life on the line in the Civil Rights movement a decade before our encounter. "Your kind" damned generations after me, for all time. "Your kind" was like the faux "curse of Ham" Jedi mind tricked on my culture, or myths of angels in the war of heaven coming to Earth as either "light-skinned or dark-skinned babies" depending on some measure of valor opined, but not observed. "Your kind" labeled my sons and their future children as failures before they landed on the planet! I was fourteen, but suddenly I was in an instant thrust into an adult world of privilege, power and prejudice.

My instructors looked embarrassed and tried to move to another subject. My friends were also silent, and somewhat disappointed that I didn't follow my first instincts and deck him. Even then, Juvenal detention was an ever-pending reality for any African American male teenager that stepped out-of-line. I fumed silently. I discussed the affront with my parents that night at home, who were genuinely and understandably upset. They asked me if I wanted them to call the school, or visit the principal. I said no. I wanted to handle this one myself. My mother, in her gentle way reminded me of Philippians 4:13.

Colonel Wall returned the next day. It was now, or never...

"Do you read?" I asked. (I noticed I didn't address him as Colonel Wall anymore.)

"Of course I do," he said.

"In three years," I challenged, "I will be wearing your rank!"

"I doubt that very seriously," he scoffed.

"Watch me!" At that point, hitting him resurrected, albeit briefly.

I took that as a challenge to prove him wrong. I studied harder than I had ever before. His name became a metaphor for any barrier presented I had to overcome. I was up to that point indifferent to academics until my encounter. I routinely wheezed and coughed when I ran on our track during gym. I worked on my running, push ups, sit ups, weight training; I improved. I joined the pistol, rifle and orienteering (ranger) teams. I worked on my public speaking skills, presenting for an Air Force ROTC inspection at North Forsyth High School, where I matriculated after the 10th grade due to forced busing. I memorized what amounted to twenty-two ribbons, one medal and two shooter's badges I could identify without looking down at the pocket they were pinned on. Three years later, I went before the city board that decided which young man or woman would be the next Brigade Commander for the 1979-1980 school year. I became that person. It was not without challenge, as the Ku Klux Klan (or, someone affiliated with them) apparently didn't take too kindly to my ascent. The Greensboro massacre was fresh on my mind, months into my tenure. I was sent threats to "not show up, or else" on a poorly written note left in my locker regarding our annual Brigade Review in Bowman Gray Stadium. I ignored whoever that cowardly cretin was too. I had participated in the annual parade as a cadet. I was going to as its commander.

Later in life, I was a commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in the Air Force, having completed my matriculation at NC A&T State University in Engineering Physics. The former Cadet Colonel Wall had gone in the Army, enlisted. I saw him at Bergstrom Air Force Base...and he saw me (though from his body language, he tried to avoid me). By the US Constitution we both swore to protect and defend, he by law HAD to salute me. We said nothing, other than me saying..."carry on, Sergeant."

"That was a good story," my SAT student said. I summed the moral of my personal tale to the group of young men and women that you'll have obstacles placed in the way of your goals. The key is to ignore the erstwhile opinions of "your walls" and overcome them. They at least nodded they were paying attention. I smiled. They are "my kind."

"Living well is the best revenge." George Herbert

Monday, February 26, 2018

Diaspora Spirituality...

"Wade in the Water." Postcard of a river baptism in New Bern, North Carolina near the turn of the 20th century.
Image source: Wikipedia

Topics: African Americans, Civil Rights, Diaspora, Diversity, Diversity in Science, History, NASA, Science Fiction, Women in Science

We run the gamut: from A - Z, the diaspora has a rich and diverse spirituality. The Baptist Church is the oldest construct, but Mother Emanuel AME could be one of the oldest black churches, famous way before the recent terrorism in Charleston:

Just days after the tragic shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., last year, the pews at Emanuel AME were filled for Sunday service. A black cloth was draped over the chair where Emanuel's pastor, state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, should have been sitting.

Holding worship in the church sanctuary — while its basement was still a fresh crime scene — served as a way for the congregation to move forward while acknowledging the deaths of nine of its own. [1]

My wife and I had just passed this church on a quaint carriage ride through the city. We were told Emanuel had been visited by Martin Luther and Coretta Scott King as well as other luminaries of the Civil Rights movement. We also passed near the shore, the auction area, what looked like a long covered porch...where slaves, my ancestors were sold.

My great-grandfather and his brother helped form New Light Beulah Baptist Church in Congaree, South Carolina in 1867; I've been a member of Bethel Baptist in Wappingers Falls, New York, the founders building a stop on the Underground Railroad. I'm a current member of Providence Baptist, the oldest African American church in Greensboro, starting in 1866. Tina Turner and a few African Americans are practicing Buddhists. There are several sites dedicated to atheism and agnosticism, modified by the adjective "black." Santeria and Voodoo are slightly different than Wiccan, but many participate in it. There are Nation of Islam, Shia, Sufi, Sunni and Orthodox Muslims. There are officially black millennial "nones." Goldie Taylor wrote an excellent exploratory piece in the Daily Beast, reluctantly joining a side of this diversity.

The intersection of the Venn diagram is a people that were counted as less, supposed to be conquered and mute about the occasional brutality visited upon it; we found ways to construct community and survive. I recall a scene in the movie Black Panther where Lupita Nyong o (Nikia) and Danai Gurira (General Okoye) and other warriors in the Dora Milaje did a celebratory dance on the coming coronation of T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) as king. I thought about the ease of the rhythm before me on the film that communicated a freedom I don't feel most of the time. It was a freedom of having a culture, customs, a language and history uninterrupted by human trafficking, middle passage and forced miscegenation. It was a moment in the action movie that raised an envy; a longing. Much has been said the movie expressed Afrofuturism, itself a branch of Sun Ra, preceding George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic with his video "Space Is The Place," itself an homage to the spiritual "swing low, sweet chariot, coming forth to carry me home," a "coded 100" song giving instructions to potential runaway slaves; itself a longing and knowing the brutality of the American system was not a desired, permanent state for any thinking people. Whether by Harriet Tubman, alien tech, Wakanda or ectoplasm, an escape is still an escape.

Each diverse expression of agnosticism, atheism, Buddhism, theism and nature spirit traditions are all exercising under a construct of white supremacy and navigating it. Even in higher education, especially when in the numerical as well as cultural minority, we must as Dr. Holbrook points out, develop Survival Strategies. We have been and are subject to terrorism, fire bombings, lynching, castration and murder by citizens and judicial policy - either the state on a gurney or in a blue uniform. We are demonized for our skin color, our worship patterns, or neighborhoods like Native American reservations we were forced in through redlining and who we choose to love by WASP convention. Under the rubric of oppression, we've constructed the blues, dance, gospel, jazz and literature; their immediate children being disco and hip hop, the latter having a resurgence of relevance with Jay Z and Kendrick Lamar speaking verse like spoken word artists tackling relevant subjects and divergent expressions of asking the universe "who am I?"

The Rev. James Cone is the founder of black liberation theology. In an interview with Terry Gross, Cone explains the movement, which has roots in 1960s civil-rights activism and draws inspiration from both the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, as "mainly a theology that sees God as concerned with the poor and the weak."

Cone explains that at the core of black liberation theology is an effort — in a white-dominated society, in which black has been defined as evil — to make the gospel relevant to the life and struggles of American blacks, and to help black people learn to love themselves. It's an attempt, he says "to teach people how to be both unapologetically black and Christian at the same time." [2]

There is an old proverb that says something to the effect a ship sailing a particular course can change its destination by altering its original coordinates by a few degrees. It is this degree of separation if you will that makes the notion that we would think the same, preach the same, worship the same under the anvil of white supremacy is "quaint" to say the least. It is why Reverend Jeremiah Wright's jeremiad was sampled in sound bite, purposely taken out of context to foil an interruption in the highest symbol of white supremacy in 232 years of the republic. Bill Moyers corrected the record with an interview with Dr. Wright. (Coincidentally, Baruch - the Hebraic spelling of Barack - was an aid and friend to the prophet Jeremiah.) It is why in the outpouring of grief for Michael Jackson, commentators marveled at how "long the service was taking," when everyone spoke about our new ancestor. The same was repeated for Prince. In each instance, it showed a lack of experience with a part of the American fabric that was supposed to be seen, not heard; ruled and not [ever] to govern.

Sadly, millennials are falling away from that due to disappointment in leaders more interested in leer jets, access to political power and bling than service to the community, or helping with their burgeoning student loans. I share their disappointment, but not their lack of hope. Dr. William Barber's Moral Mondays that has become Breech Repairers and John Pavlovitz's Stuff That Need to be Said are noted exceptions to these blanket observations.

I see another convergence between the millennials in the recent Florida shooting, the murdered kindergarten students at Sandy Hook, Black Lives Matter and Me Too. The Civil Rights movement was led primarily by people we see now as seasoned, but during the time of hoses, dogs bits and billy clubs were the youth of their day. The youth of this day are connected via social media primarily to each other, typically sharing innocuous things like selfies and food eaten. Now more than ever, they need to use that power - and it is considerable - to bring about the change they seek; to BE "the change they seek":

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”
― President Barack Obama, Good Reads

The sixties, seventies, eighties and early nineties lulled all of us into apathy. Entertainment like "I Spy"; "Star Trek"; "The Courtship of Eddie's Father"; "The Cosby Show"; "Miami Vice" showed people of different cultures and different worlds working together in a spy agency or on a spaceship; a single, widowed father raising his son alone, a professional couple raising five children and a cop duo that changed the television genre into episodic music videos. We were lulled into thinking - as Dr. Maya Angelou opined hopefully after the election of President Obama - "America had 'grown up.'" In 2016, our Democratic Republic put on its training wheels again, following the dueling pied pipers of a Russian oligarch and a dimwitted demagogue.

Instead of waiting on their parents, it's time for the children to lead US, not to a promised land, but ever closer to a more perfect union.

May the ancestors be pleased, give you strength, and guide you all. We will follow.

1. How A Shooting Changed Charleston's Oldest Black Church, Debbie Elliot, NPR, "All Things Considered"
2. Black Liberation Theology, in its Founder's Words, NPR "Fresh Air"

Friday, February 23, 2018

Dr. Claudia Alexander, In Memoriam...

Claudia Alexander: 1959 - 2015

Topics: African Americans, Civil Rights, Diaspora, Diversity, Diversity in Science, History, NASA, Science Fiction, Women in Science

As a research scientist, she inspired a generation, especially young women, to seek careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

This weekend was one of great excitement for the planetary science community as the New Horizons spacecraft moved in on Pluto following decades of hard work. But that optimism took on a somber tone Saturday as news quickly traveled that pioneering scientist Claudia Alexander had died at age 56. Friends and family writing online tributes reported she suffered from breast cancer, but no official cause of death was given.

Alexander was an employee of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and the final project manager for NASA’s Galileo mission. But her public profile rose dramatically last fall due to her duties as project scientist for NASA’s role in the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

"The passing of Claudia Alexander reminds us of how fragile we are as humans but also as scientists how lucky we are to be part of planetary science,” James Green, director of NASA's Planetary Science Division, said in a statement. “She and I constantly talked about comets. Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko in particular. She was an absolute delight to be with and always had a huge engaging smile when I saw her. It was easy to see that she loved what she was doing. We lost a fantastic colleague and great friend. I will miss her." [1]

The C. Alexander Gate, located on the smaller lobe of Comet 67P/C-G, has been named for Claudia J. Alexander, a U.S. Rosetta project scientist. Alexander passed away on July 11, 2015, after a 10-year battle with breast cancer. She was 56.

Alexander earned a bachelor's degree in geophysics from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master's degree in geophysics and space physics from the University of California, Los Angeles. She went on to earn her doctorate degree in atmospheric, oceanic and space sciences from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She began working at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California before completing her doctorate. At the relatively young age of 40, she served as project manager for NASA's Galileo mission in 2000.

Alexander strove to inspire young people, writing children's books on science and mentoring young African-American girls. She also wrote "steampunk" science-fiction short stories. [2]

1. Pioneering Rosetta mission scientist Claudia Alexander dead at 56, Eric Betz, Astronomy Magazine
2. Rosetta Team Names Comet Features for Lost Colleagues, Nola Taylor Redd,