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Experiment

Hello Kate!

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We’re excited to share that Kate Ray is joining the Experiment team. Kate is an engineer who will be helping us build more science.

1. Tell us about your background!

In college I studied journalism and cognitive psychology, decided I wanted to be a science journalist, and made a documentary about the Semantic Web. I ended up learning programming and started a company with a friend. For four years we worked on tools to help more people make the web, and then continued that work at WordPress when we were acquired by Automattic. I’m coming to Experiment with years of experience building tools for creative people, and a strong belief in the power of individuals who become a crowd.

2. What are you looking forward to?

Digging up a triceratops! Jk, we totally did that this summer. Maybe hanging out with some lemurs. Oh, nm. Ummm…Mars? We’ll get there.

3. What do you love about Experiment?

The scientists I’ve met. They are passionate and obsessive and so dedicated, I just want their enthusiasm to rub off on me. I love that we get to build tools for them, and for other people who are curious enough to seek science outside of their day jobs.

4. Why do you think Experiment is important right now?

The World Wide Web was invented by a scientist about 25 years ago in a physics lab. It kicked off a tech industry that became incredibly prosperous, while funding for science in America plunged (NIH’s funding decreased by 20% since 2004, NSF by 9% since 2012). Grants are more competitive and fewer risky experiments get funded. I want there to be a place in our society for new and independent and more of every kind of science, and I believe enough people also want it that we can find each other on the web and make it happen.

5. What is your biggest science inspiration?

My dad :)

I used to ask him “Why?” all the time, like a lot of kids, and he was a good scientist and dad so he would try to answer.

Why is the sky blue? Because molecules in the air scatter blue light more than other colors.

Why? Because light travels in waves, and blue has a shorter wavelength.

How short is it? I don’t know, let’s go look it up in the Encyclopedia Britannica.

And then he’d push my questions further: This is how we describe color in physics. But how do you know that the blue you’re seeing is the same thing as what I see? (I tripped out over that for many years. My sixth grade science fair project was on color perception.)

What I learned is that my dad knew basically everything in the world, and what he didn’t know could be looked up, and what couldn’t be looked up could be discovered. If not by me, then at the very least by the human race.