Sunday, November 29, 2015

What good are brown dwarf planets? Let's ask Iain Banks

From Iain Bank's novel The Hydrogen Sonata:
There was something comforting about having a vast hydrogen furnace burning millions of tons of material a second at the centre of a solar system. It was cheery. This was just… dull.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Physics Careers: Founding Computer Science

Today's New York Times has an obituary of Joseph Traub:
Joseph F. Traub, who founded the computer science department at Columbia University and who helped develop algorithms used in scientific computing in physics and mathematics as well as on Wall Street, died on Monday in Santa Fe, N.M. He was 83.
He had a very impressive career.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Astronomy and Physics Job Statistics

I am preserving these links to job statistics, but maybe you will find them useful too. AIP report on Astronomy jobs: This 2015 report includes bachelor's, master's and PhDs, and is for classes of 2010-2012. 538 analysis of starting salaries. See "Astronomy & Astrophysics" at #8. This is salaries for Bachelor's without graduate school, under age 28. AIP Report on Physics Bachelors initial employment: This 2015 report is based on classes of 2011 and 2012. Chronicle Faculty Salary info: By institution or state, but for ALL fields. AAUP report on the economic status of the profession: A detailed report on faculty compensation, by my union. Again, for all fields, not just physics and astronomy.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

LSST approved for construction

LSST approved for contruction. I am working this week at the LSST Cadence workshop.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

AAS Statement on Scientific Travel

I agree completely with this new statement from the AAS. As a personal example, when I, not wanting to travel so much, stopped going to conferences for a few years it damaged my scientific productivity. In brief: You don't know what's going on, you don't make the contacts needed for new projects, and your work is less known than it should be.
The American Astronomical Society and its six divisions (Planetary Science, High Energy Astrophysics, Solar Physics, Dynamical Astronomy, Historical Astronomy, and Laboratory Astrophysics) are deeply concerned about the impact of the Administration's new conference travel restrictions on the scientific productivity and careers of researchers who are Federal employees and contractors. Scientific meetings and conferences are a principal mechanism for researchers, students, and educators to facilitate and strengthen their interaction and collaborations with peers in their field, thereby advancing the state of knowledge in that field. Scientists who are Federal employees or contractors play a critical role in all fields of science and engineering, so the Federal agency mission suffers when they, and any students collaborating with them, are unable to travel to relevant conferences. In response to guidance from the White House Office of Management and Budget on implementation of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 sequestration, many agencies have issued new travel restrictions for employees, contractors, and grantees for the rest of FY 2013. For example, NASA has effectively capped conference attendance at 50 employees and contractors and prohibited all attendance at foreign conferences. Given the mission need for NASA personnel to regularly meet with international collaborators, we believe our international leadership in space will be undermined by this prohibition. While conferences occurring in the remaining six months of FY 2013 will be severely impacted by these new directives, our deeper concern is the likelihood that the restrictions and reduced conference travel spending will become standard policy going forward. We agree that all government travel expenditures should be subject to vigorous review and oversight, but we urge the Administration to consider carefully the harm that these top-down restrictions could cause the U.S. research enterprise and our international standing.