Ada Lovelace Day – Prof. Linda S. Sparke

A couple of months ago, I signed the following pledge over at

“I will publish a blog post on Tuesday 24th March about a woman in technology whom I admire but only if 1,000 other people will do the same.”

Well, more than 1,500 people signed up to do the same, so this post is dedicated to Linda Sparke. Why do I admire Linda? Well, firstly, she studies gravitational dynamics, building computer models of the structure and motion of entire galaxies. In fact, she wrote the undergrad textbook on galactic dynamics. Secondly, she also currently dominates the first page of Google for “remarkable warped and twisted”, which I think is an admirable achievement all by itself. Finally, what’s not to admire about someone whose contact details say “knock three times and give the password: F = G m1 m2/ r2“?

On a more personal note, back in 1989 I answered a note from Linda on the noticeboard in the Physics Department at Manchester University inviting final year students to apply for the PhD program in Astronomy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Consequently I spent 6 years in the UW-Madison Astronomy department, studying and working with some lovely people, including Linda, and eventually got my own PhD. So thanks Linda! May you continue to inspire people to study astronomy for years to come.