Petaluma Argus-Courier from Petaluma, California on August 26, 1997 · 1
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Petaluma Argus-Courier from Petaluma, California · 1

Petaluma, California
Issue Date:
Tuesday, August 26, 1997
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Petaluma s ARGUS COURIER ? A Pulitzer MIDWEEK EDITION C Two astronomers Hit movie 'Contact' sparks look at bias against women By DAVE ALCOTT 1997 Argus-Courier As usual, Hollywood plays both the good guy and the bad guy in the current blockbuster hit, "Contact." The science fiction story is impacting real people inside the science establishment and out, not the least of which were CNN and the White House, criticized for lending verisimilitude to the movie. Among those feeling the impact inside are Dr. Lynn Com-insky, a scientist living in Petaluma and her friend Jill Tarter, director of the SET! In- We're in CONTACT A four-part series Tuesday, Aug. 26 B The current box office hit "Contact" is bringing to light the careers of two real astronomers, Lynn Com-insky of Petaluma and her friend at the SETI Institute in Mountain View. Cominsky's career unfolds like the layers of an onion, much like the universe which she studies. Friday, Aug. 29 Might stars in our galaxy go supernovae? A recent discovery to this effect has implications for the work of Petaluma's Lynn Com-insky. What does it matter, this study of the universe where events take millions and billions of years, to our few decades of life? Tuesday, Sept. 2 Cominsky's search for the ultimate constituent of the universe the "dark matter" particle. The hotly disputed dark matter controversy which found "cosmologists in full throat" as cherished theories fell to the riddle. Friday, Sept. 5 The mission of GLAST, the gamma ray large area space telescope, that Com-insky is helping to formulate. The year's most exciting story to astronomers, even better than the rewriting of galactic history that Cominsky's colleagues have already accomplished. City may use vacant lot as winter homeless shelter f. By SUSAN LAUER i - Argus-Courier SUIT ; The city is purchasing a vacant : lot on Petaluma Boulevard North with the hopes it can be used to ' address the city's special housing needs. No specific use has been identified for the lot, but potential uses range from a temporary winter homeless shelter, a location for permanent housing for seniors or the disabled to a park-and-ride lot or an expansion for the police sta- jtion which is adjacent to the ; property. I The City Council, serving as the Community Newspaper August 26-28, 1997 stitute in Mountain View. The National Organization for Women says it is concerned. As Hollywood's good guy, the movie gives a boost to women's rights in the workplace. Its storyline casts a needed light on discrimination against the nation's women scientists. NOW spokeswoman Helen Grieco commented, "It's outrageous that women have lost Nobel Prizes, promotions and credit for their research to the men who have competed against them in their field." Grieco recalled that the American Association of University Women did a study that found little girls were "routed away" from science and technology subjects in school. "The movie 'Contact' does an excellent job of exposing the women's experience in this field and we applaud the movie for depicting these problems," Grieco said. "The National Organization for Women has always championed the cause of ending discrimination against women in the workplace," she added. "Women in science are in a so-called non-traditional field and have ex-' perienced some of the worst discrimination." But as the movie's bad guy, Hollywood exploited its female character's psychological makeup, seeming to blame the victim for the crime. The crime in this case was the theft of her discovery. Worse yet, Hollywood exploited Tarter, the real-life model for the scientist played by Jodie Foster. In her work, Tarter searches for extraterrestrial radio signals from other civilizations in space. So did the Foster character, Ellie Ar-roway. Arroway was the fictional invention of the late scientist-novelist Carl Sagan, a close friend of Tarter's. Tarter advised (See Astronomers, page 6A) To the far edge Petaluman behind new telescope By DAVE ALCOTT e 1997 Argus-Courier The visible universe, unimaginably larger than thought just a few years ago, is like an onion with layers of super-clusters 500,000 light years long enfolding clusters of galaxies numbering 10,000 or more each. The galaxies may average 100 billion stars each and there are about 100,000 billion galaxies. All this embraced in a volume city redevelopment agency, authorized the nonprofit Burbank Housing Development Corp. to purchase the 0.88-acre parcel with up to $250,000 of city funds earmarked for housing opportunities or a landbanking site. The property is surrounded by the police station to the north, businesses to the south and residences to the wesL Burbank Housing and city officials have been focusing on purchase proceedings, and no specific use for the property has been sought through the city. The property is zoned "Highway Com- j rxr) 50 Cents Dr. Jill Tarter of the SETI Institute Is the model for the movie of space 10 billion light years wide, once called the universe, now called "the local universe." Galaxies are hurtling out of it at awesome speeds and we don't know where they're going. Don't even think about asking where the center of the universe is. Scientists believe a much larger universe, if that's conceivable, lies beyond "the local universe." , The life of a scientist who mercial," and the General Plan designation calls for a "mixed use" of the land. All of the proposals for use could be considered in the future, but the cold-weather shelter for the homeless is "right up there," said Bonne Gaebler, the city's housing administrator. Petaluma has used the National Guard Armory on Vallejo Street as an emergency shelter during the winter, especially for single adult men, who are frequently the last to seek refuge from poor weather. (See Lot, page 6A) , Lots of action in adult softball tourney Page 8A in spotlight - " - J' - ' s 7. of the universe studies the universe can be like an onion, too. Layer by layer, there is a story within a story in the life of Lynn Cominsky, a leading-edge astrophysicist living in Petaluma who studies events at the far edge of the universe. It was a science fiction story, strangely enough, that began peeling back the layers in Cominsky's scientific life. Enter Hollywood and the new movie "Contact" in which Jodie Foster plays the part of a woman Index rsLoaSs:is Business aA Celebrations . 6B riflcifirf 7p wassmea.. 7tJ Crossword.. . .. 3B EdltorlalS 2B Education Express . 5B Kid Scoop ......................... 4B Obituaries 4A Petaluma Living 1 B Public Access TV 3B Pulse Of Petaluma 2A Sports 8 A Theaters a Wmthor " i YVctoivMTc 2 Yesteryears ...................... 3d "m MrJSta Exhibit on M-A McNear J women " " PagelB New 'school' education in Page5B 1 " X ' : if -A l "Contact." Photo 0 Seth Shostak scientist whose discovery is stolen by senior, male scientists. Cominsky knew first-hand what she was seeing in the movie because she'd experienced the same thing and because she knew the woman behind the story. A similar attempt to take credit from Cominsky had raised the question in her mind whether historic discrimination against women was at work in the nation's science labs. (See Cominsky, page 8A) Woman's body found near Highway 101 Tn.vj, j de5ompsed body. f a woman was found er a pine at very of Petalma Boulevard South. It was dis- covered Friday by a CalTrans worker helping to fix a damaged guard rail on nearby Highway 101. An autopsy Monday did not reveal the cause of death or the Person's identity. Toxicological beg made. Hayes of Sebastopol found body at about 2 pjn. Friday afternoon, after he placed a "work- SigJ1 neXt 10 0f police cars that auicklv gathered caused a noticeable back for computer book store Police to cite skaters who flout helmet law By SUSAN LAUER Argus-Courier SUIT Police are poised to issue citations to skaters at Petaluma's skate park who ignore the mandatory helmet regulation. The push is an attempt to reduce the number or injuries and enforce the rules at the popular venue. Monday morning one boy without a helmet begrudgingly sat out of action while a couple of older teens took a chance and practiced bare-headed. But the. other 15-or-so skaters ranging in age from an older man to a 5-y ear-old boy donned headgear as they skated. A mom watching her two young sons marvelled at the number of skaters who were wearing protective gear. She said usually when they come to the park, only a handful of skaters have helmets: "The kids, especially the older boys, think it's just not cool to wear them" Granted, the widespread use of helmets Monday morning came5 after a police patrol officer delivered the message any skater without protective head-gear faced a $35 fine. "They're getting tough now. I can't skate unal I get a helmet," griped the boy who decided not to venture into the cement bowls because he did not have his gear. There's nothing new about the rule skaters must wear helmets and pads at the park, but the Petaluma Police Department is cracking down after giving park users months to voluntarily comply with the rule. "Most of the kids who use the park know it is a requirement, but we haven't been enforcing the ordinance, so they've been getting away with it," said Petaluma Police SgL Mike Kerns. "In order to prevent head injuries we will start enforcing the ordinance later this week." Skateboarders and rollerbladers not wearing helmets and pads could receive a $35 citation for a first offense. If they are cited on a second violation the fine will be $75. Since the park opened, a number of injuries have been reported, ranging from concussions to fractured wrists and arms. In the last month, for instance, a 13-year-old boy suffered a concussion, a 17-year-old boy suffered a jaw injury, a 23-year-old man received head lacerations and an 11 -year-old boy received a back injury. In all cases paramedics responded to the skate park, and the injured boys were transported (See Skateboard, page 6A) up in the northbound commute people slowed to gawk. Petaluma Police Officer Craig Seekon, first on the scene, verified the remains as that of a person and called in the County Sheriff since the address it outside of Petaluma's city limits. Monday's autopsy revealed the woman had been dead for at least a week and perhaps as long as a month. She was black, between the ages of 18 and 40, approximately 5 feet 4 inches tall, and weighed approximately 120 pounds. She had (See Body, page 6A) rv

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