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  Introduction Jay Gallagher Biography Anne Kinney Biography Lynn Matthews Biography Linda Sparke Biography  

Professor Linda Sparke is a native of London, England. She watched the Apollo moonflights as a teenager, and later the close-up pictures of the giant planets and their satellites, from flyby missions. Amazed by the accuracy with which humans on Earth could calculate the flight paths of spacecraft, steering them safely to an orbit millions of miles away, she decided to study physics and astronomy. After undergraduate training in applied mathematics at Cambridge University, she went into astronomy as a graduate student at the University of California at Berkeley. Her interests focus on the many ways that gravity can act to produce the observed patterns of stars in galaxies. While gravity is supposed to be a simple force, matters can get very complicated in a galaxy of more than 100 billion stars, as well as the "dark matter", which is of unknown nature, but has more mass than all the stars put together. This research led her naturally to investigations of "polar ring" galaxies, of which NGC 4650A is a prime example, and she is a leading expert in interpreting the structures of these bizarre galaxies.

Prof. Sparke has held positions at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge, and the Kapteyn Astronomical Institute in Groningen (Netherlands), before joining the faculty in Madison. Her hobbies include cooking, quibbling, falling over in ballet class, and staring blankly into the middle distance.