In recent years, José Maza has become a recurring figure in the Chilean media.
The astronomer, a national prize for Exact Sciences, has played an important role in bringing science and astronomy closer to the inhabitants of his country, particularly the youngest.
This has been achieved through the publication of several books, including We are stardust and Mars: the next frontier, and the realization of massive scientific dissemination events that have brought together thousands of attendees.
As part of Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from September 15 to October 15, we spoke with the scientist about the importance of science, education and technology in Latin America, in addition to space exploration and his latest book, Drawing the cosmos.
“It was a book that I wanted to write, because for many years I taught the history of astronomy, and I had many notes on these topics,” says the astronomer from the University of Chile.
How do you define the scientific dissemination and dissemination work that you carry out?
What I want now is to disseminate science from the everyday. For this reason, instead of talking about black holes and quasars, I like to look for topics of astronomical inspiration, but that touch on the everyday, with culture.
How can more girls and boys be encouraged to study science careers?
We have to promote education and culture through reading. The boys now spend watching stupid things on their cell phones, instead of reading. Reading can take you to worlds that are no more, that existed. Students must be encouraged to get into stories that are written.
You decided to study astronomy in a country where scientific careers are not given importance …
I love seeing eight-year-old girls tell me they want to be astronomers. As a kid, I never knew that astronomy was something I could work on, until I was about 18 years old. 50 years ago nobody motivated you to study astronomy. Now it is about opening the horizon to everything and letting them wander.
This lack of interest in scientific careers is something that runs through all of Latin America.
One of the tragedies of Latin America is that it has not understood or perhaps has not wanted to understand the immeasurable value that education, science and technology have. We should make an effort to invest more in education, science and technology, and children and young people must be encouraged so that they always want to learn more.
Chile, in particular, lends itself a lot to the development of astronomy.
The north of Chile is an exceptional place to do astronomy, for this reason we should make an effort to invest in science and technology. ALMA is a worldwide telescope and it is delivering results that are wonderful, unique.
What do you think about the birth of aerospace tourism with the emergence of millionaires like Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson?
In all human activity, the more actors there are, the more possibilities we have for things to happen. Elon Musk started with some very revolutionary ideas and implemented them, such as reusing the same rocket. But if he never gets out of that super-rich niche, he’s just going to become an eccentricity.