• Carla Ra

Can a scientist write sci-fi?

It has been a crazy-fun adventure. Super ambitious as well. Who knew scientists had time to write, amirite?

So, how do I do it?

Truth is, I didn’t do it. At least until a year ago, when I set my priorities straight. To understand this story better, I will tell you more about myself.

I am Carla, born and raised in a small town on the coast of Brazil. My parents are both teachers, and I am their oldest daughter. My two brothers are also teachers. Here is an actual picture of the three of us on a Christmas day. From left to right, Carlos Júnior, me, and Alexandre, the youngest.

I am a cosmologist and a historian of science. I have a Master’s degree in Mathematics, but I chose Physics for my Ph.D. My thesis was about Quantum cosmology (yes, it is real; no, it is not pseudoscience). Not satisfied, I adventured myself into unknown territory and got a postdoctoral position to research history of science. More precisely, history of 20th century physics. Even more precisely, I am writing a book on the discovery of black holes. This is me, amazed by my drawing of a black hole.

If you want to know more about my academic life, subscribe to my mailing list. I share the exciting parts of it every month in my newsletter.


The reactions to my background are mixed. For someone outside of Academia, it looks amazing. As if I was a super genius that knows everything (spoiler alert: I don’t.). The reaction of academics, however, is usually a gentle head shake, a pat on my shoulder, and a sigh. I strayed. Today’s Academia praises specialization, and I was all over the place. I broadened my knowledge, going against expectations.

There are two ways of understanding my career decisions. Either I am greedy and thus want to know a bit about as much topics as possible, or I am naturally curious and in love with science. I’d like to think the latter is truer. One of my goals is to write science communication, to share the amazement that knowledge causes on me. I’ve had a few successes:

The conversation:


Brains On:


Ciência todo dia (Pt):


And some failed attempts, like the blog Playing Bongos. Here is the professional picture I took for it.

I like to write. And I like to read. During my doctorate, I’ve stopped both activities because the pressure was surreal. I hate the fact that nowadays either you give 100% to finish your Ph.D., or you are considered a failure (I intend to write more about this subject in the future). I played by the rules, although I don’t agree with them. I gave 100% to it. This system is broken, and the currency of choice is the mental health of the master and Ph.D. candidates.

After I finished the Ph.D, I got my life back. More importantly, I rediscovered how much I like to write and to read.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

One of my first ever answers to this question was to be a writer. As an adult, I discovered science, and researcher is my career of choice. But now I want to fulfill this childhood dream. I want to be a writer. Can I be both? I don’t know. Maybe I’ll fail again, but I will try.

Thanks for join me here today.

I hope to see you again,


Old logo by Carla Ra. Christmas picture by Alexandre M.R. Almeida. Picture with black hole by Carla Ra. Playing Bongos picture by Carlos A.A. de Almeida Júnior. New logo by Lilian Lima.

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