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21 June, 2024
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US Ambassador Fisher: ''Space knows no boundaries''

US Embassy in Cyprus hosts NASA scientist, Dr. Alexandra Lockwood, as she highlights discoveries of the James Webb telescope at ''Art in Embassies'' exhibition

Shemaine Bushnell Kyriakides

Last Thursday, I had the distinct pleasure of attending the Art in Embassies event at the U.S. Embassy in Nicosia, hosted by U.S. Ambassador Julie Fisher. The highlight of the evening was an insightful presentation by Dr. Alexandra Lockwood of NASA, who had traveled all the way from the United States to discuss the James Webb Space Telescope, a project she has worked on extensively.

There are no lines drawn, and what we do together from space agencies, large and small, contributes to our common understanding of where we come from and who we are.” -H.E. Julie Fisher

The event was a significant occasion, not just because of the incredible images taken by the James Webb telescope on display, but also because it marked the first large gathering at the embassy since the tragic passing of the previous ambassador, Judy Garber. Ambassador Fisher took a moment to honor her predecessor, recalling Garber’s dedication to promoting science as a central part of diplomatic efforts. “This is the first gathering we’ve had here at the Embassy since Judy Garber’s passing. She was deeply committed to promoting science, and I know she would be proud of this event,” Fisher said, adding a poignant touch to the evening.

Ambassador Fisher’s vision for the event was clear: to bring people together through the universal appeal of space exploration. “Space knows no boundaries,” she said. “In my experience, space is an area that brings people together. There are no lines drawn, and what we do together from space agencies, large and small, contributes to our common understanding of where we come from and who we are.”

Dr. Lockwood, in turn, captivated the audience with her presentation, showcasing breathtaking images captured by the James Webb Telescope and comparing them to those taken by the Hubble Telescope. The advancements were striking, offering a deeper look into the universe. “The James Webb Telescope has revolutionized our understanding of the cosmos,” Lockwood explained. “We’ve discovered galaxies older than we ever thought possible and supermassive black holes that challenge our previous theories.”

Among the attendees were the Minister of Education of Cyprus, local citizens, and enthusiastic high school students from across the island. The students’ curiosity and excitement were palpable, reflecting the event’s success in inspiring the next generation of scientists. Dr. Lockwood engaged with the students, sharing her journey and encouraging them to pursue their own scientific dreams. “I’ve been incredibly impressed with the students here in Cyprus. Their questions and enthusiasm are a testament to the bright future of scientific inquiry,” she said.

The event was not just a showcase of technological achievement but also a celebration of international collaboration. The James Webb Telescope, as Dr. Lockwood highlighted, is the result of a partnership involving the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency, among others. “This telescope is a testament to what we can achieve when we work together. It took contributions from 14 countries to build it, and now over 50 countries, including Cyprus, are using its data to make groundbreaking discoveries,” Lockwood noted.

The afternoon was a blend of scientific wonder and heartfelt camaraderie. The Art in Embassies program, which has been fostering cultural diplomacy since 1963, provided the perfect backdrop for the event. The program’s support, along with contributions from NASA, brought an array of stunning images to the embassy, transforming it into a gallery of cosmic art.

For me, as a journalist, the event was a reminder of our tiny place in the vast universe and the boundless possibilities that lie ahead when we work together. Seeing the images from the James Webb Telescope was awe-inspiring, a humbling experience that underscored the beauty and mystery of the cosmos. It was a moment of reflection and inspiration, encapsulated perfectly by Ambassador Fisher’s words: “We are all connected by the universe, and events like this remind us of our shared quest for knowledge and understanding.”

In the end, the evening was not just about science but about the human spirit of exploration and cooperation. As I left the embassy, I carried with me a sense of wonder and a renewed appreciation for the scientists and diplomats who bridge gaps and bring us closer to the stars.

Cyprus  |  technology  |  space  |  science

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