Coffee with Professor of Astronomy Dr. Andreja Gomboc.
It is not about believing, it is about understanding. Astronomers question every yet unexplained “magic” force and are in their persistent way changing our perception of the universe. They allow us to change theirs, but rather with facts than opinions.
INSPIRATIONAL PROFESSOR OF ASTRONOMY, DR. ANDREJA GOMBOC
It was a sunny Thursday morning when we met with Professor of Astronomy Andreja Gomboc in a quiet City Museum of Ljubljana to grab a coffee and have a nice little chat about the place we live in. Andreja, with her work and personality, is a very inspiring astrophysicist. Internationally recognized and awarded, her main fields of research include gamma-ray bursts, tidal disruption of stars in the vicinity of massive black holes and relativistic navigation satellite systems. She is leaving a big mark in astrophysics with being part of international collaborations chasing gravitational wave events. First such events, mergers of black holes, brought the LIGO observatory the 2017 Nobel prize in Physics."
FINDING A BALANCE BETWEEN LETTING THINGS HAPPEN AND STAYING CREDIBLE
Astronomers try to explain space phenomena where parameters of an experiment can not simply be changed in contrast to laboratory research, which is especially challenging when analyzing the transient phenomenon, that is a phenomenon, whose duration is relatively short. While trying to explain what and how the phenomenon has happened, if the explanation is outside the frames and paradigms or is interpreted with little probability, it is less credible. Yet also from a scientific point of view, the universe is too big not to let the improbable happen. ”Also if the probability of the specific event to happen is 1 against 1 billion, there are so many stars and galaxies in the universe, that even such an event deserves consideration. So one needs to find a balance between letting things happen and staying scientifically credible.”
IT IS AN EXCITING TIME WE LIVE IN
Improbable or probable, once detected and proven, like gravitational waves, it brings great joy and is a big step forward in understanding our surroundings. “These are historical moments. It is very exciting to live in this time. And contributing to these events makes it even more thrilling.”
In the end, the time shows, how important specific discoveries were. "Some discoveries may be ahead of their time and their implications will be revealed with furthering our understanding of the universe," adds Andreja.
HOW CAN WE CONTRIBUTE TO SCIENCE
Astronomical science provides important answers about our own existence. But since nowadays discoveries in astrophysics require big teams and expensive devices, how can people like us contribute to progress in science?
“It is important to bring astronomy closer to people from an early age.” By supporting their projects, we allow the young to think outside academic frameworks. The purchase of the observing time on professional telescopes sounds like a good idea. Within few hours of observations, a lot can be done. The young, perspective astronomers may not yet come up with something bombastic, but it is an important first step in space research. And knowing that you have contributed to obtaining some yet unknown data about a distant galaxy feels awesome and is inspiring for the future.
AND LIVING ON THE MOON
Since building a Moon base and living on the Moon is being a very hot topic lately, I had to ask her if she were to live on the Moon or another planet. “Perhaps, if I could take my family and all of my friends with me,” she answers with a warm smile, suppressing the stereotypes about cold scientists.