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am 9. December 2019
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Kategorien: Humans of University of Vienna

Human of #univie Verena: I love Astronomy

“My enthusiasm for astronomy started to develop when I was still a child. I would stare at the night sky, a rotating star chart in my hand and watch the moon through a small telescope. This fascination has accompanied me throughout my childhood. I knew early on that I wanted to study Astronomy and started my degree programme full of motivation right after finishing high school.

However, I started to doubt my decision after the first semesters. To understand and explore the phenomena of outer space, you need a basic understanding of mathematics and physics, which you acquire right at the start of the degree programme. I was increasingly disappointed when I found out there was little actual astronomical research in the curriculum. By the end of my bachelor’s programme, I was unsure if I wanted to continue studying. Eventually I enrolled in the master’s programme – maybe just because it was fairly easy and I only had to send one single e-mail. Later on, this rather unconscious decision would turn out to be the best I could have taken.

My degree programme has changed drastically when I started working on my master’s project. My project allows me to immerse myself in the world of Big Data analysis. I work with observation data gathered by the Gaia spacecraft, which provides high precision positional measurements for billions of stars in our home galaxy, the Milky Way. In my everyday work, I perform calculations, program and visualise data, try to understand relations and interpret the findings correctly. I am closely involved in current research, had the chance to contribute to publications and have just published my first own publication. Additionally, I will present my research findings to astronomers from all over Europe at an ESA conference before I graduate. In retrospect, I now realise how important good basic knowledge is for research.

I enjoy my work very much and would like to continue my research in a doctoral programme at the University. Because I cannot take it for granted that this will come true, I try to stay flexible and have an open mind about my future. I am confident that I will also be able to gain a foothold in other disciplines with the knowledge I have acquired. But every time I sit at the research telescope with colleagues and look into the starry night sky, I am captured anew with this endless fascination, and I know that I just love being an astronomer.”

Verena Fürnkranz is studying Astronomy at the University of Vienna.

Human of #univie Tomas: When do things go quantum?

“We have all heard of the weirdness of quantum mechanics. Things that appear to be in multiple places simultaneously, others that are correlated over long distances, properties that manifest only when you measure them and particles behaving like waves… But why do we not see such things in our everyday lives? When do things “go … Continued

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