Dark (Skinned) Matter

As advancements in space travel increase so do the possibilities for humans to colonize other planets. However, what aspects of our socio-political infrastructures will humans bring into space, and how will race, class and power be stratified?  On this episode, N.A. Ratanayake brings his experience as a NASA Aerodynamicist and science fiction author to discuss the real answers to these questions.

Alongside the conversation Drumbeat delivers a series of exclusive interviews with the indigenous people of Canada’s Arctic Region, where cutting edge research on climate change and a rich cultural heritage unveil the landscape that science and social development share.   

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Prior to feeling the call to become an educator, Nalin A Ratnayake was a aerospace propulsion research engineer. He holds a B.S.E. and M.S. in Aerospace Engineering and has published 11 peer-reviewed technical papers on supersonic air-breathing propulsion, environmentally responsible aviation technologies, and advanced access-to-space systems.

After changing careers, Nalin completed an M.Ed. through the Boston Teacher Residency, focusing his studies on the connections between scientific literacy and social justice, particularly in the context of urban schools and communities.

After five years of teaching Physics and Engineering at an urban public high school in Boston, Nalin recently returned to research engineering, at a research center near Norfolk, Virgina.

Nalin writes fiction under the name N.A. Ratnayake. His speculative fiction has appeared in Crossed Genres Magazine as well as the post-colonial SF anthology We See A Different Frontier. His short story Remembering Turinam received an honorable mention in Gardner Dozois’s The Year’s Best Science Fiction, Thirty-First Edition.

Though later a New Englander and presently a resident of the Hampton Roads region of Virginia, Nalin was born and raised in the American West — a region whose history and character continue to strongly influence his writing. The mountains, rains, coasts, and deserts of the West have been the backdrop for a rich interplay of conquest, struggle, identity, and hope. These themes often emerge entangled in Nalin’s fiction.

As an engineer, writer, and educator, Nalin is strongly committed to exploring ideas for creating a more positive and sustainable future for all people.

You can find Nalin on Twitter as @quantumcowboy, and on the web at www.naratnayake.com.