Archive for May, 2009

New telescope

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

Our department just took delivery of a new 14″ telescope, to be used for classes, student projects, and public observing nights:


As you can see, it’s not in the  best possible observing location at the moment.  Plans are in motion to give it a permanent home on the roof of our building.

Thanks a lot to Dean Newcomb for buying us this!

CSI: Ancient Athens

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

Andrew Jaffe shares my love of oddities regarding probability theory:

Before it happened, I would have said slim. But since it happened, 100%.

€”Lawrence Fishburne, CSI, on the chances of being hit in the head by a tortoise dropped by a bird of prey.

I’ve never seen CSI.  Are they investigating the death of Aeschylus?

The Daily Show on probability theory

Monday, May 18th, 2009

I liked this bit on the Daily Show about the Large Hadron Collider for a bunch of reasons, mostly because John Oliver is always great.  Among other things, though, it contains a great illustration of how tricky it is, when using a Bayesian approach to probability, to choose the right prior.  That bit starts at about 3:07 and is hilariously reprised at the very end, but you should really watch the whole thing if you haven’t seen it.

Since explanations of jokes are never tedious, there’s a bit of exegesis after the jump.


Planck is on its way

Friday, May 15th, 2009

Successful launch yesterday.

Planck launch next week

Friday, May 8th, 2009

At long last, the Planck Surveyor is getting ready for launch.  Andrew Jaffe gives details and a bunch of links.

Andrew Hearin ’03

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

Like most academics, I obsessively keep track of who’s citing my work.  As a result, this paper caught my eye today.  (If that link doesn’t work, try this one.)  The lead author is a UR alumnus and winner of both of the physics departments main awards in his senior year.  During my first year here, I taught him in an independent study course on relativity.  He went off to graduate school in mathematics, but he later saw the light and came back to physics.

I haven’t read the paper in detail yet, but from the abstract it looks like a very nice piece of work (in addition to having the good taste to cite me). Congratulations, Andrew!