New telescope

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!

The Daily Show on probability theory

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.

Continue reading The Daily Show on probability theory

Andrew Hearin ’03

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!