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Personal Updates (August, 2015)

25 Aug

Holy carp! I haven’t written anything since February. LAME. In my defense, grad school is the worst. Seriously kids, don’t throw your life away on college (that’s what I’m going to tell my hypothetical children someday).

Mercifully, I only have ONE class left! And it’s an online class. And it’s not hard because I already took all the hard ones. Actually, I did that with my undergrad too – my last undergraduate class (I am not kidding here) was Intro to Computers, an 1100, freshman class, no one ever wanted to take that was basically ‘how to use Microsoft and make a Power Point’. I’m not sure how I pushed that to my very last semester, but I did.

As long as we’re confessing to things, I may as well throw in that I failed PE (a requirement at my school) 3 times. 4th time was the charm though.

This year I got to teach an undergraduate class, just to try it out and see if a PhD is worth it, and I have to be honest – it is not. Don’t get me wrong, I’d like to have a PhD, but getting one is a) ridiculously expensive, b) cost-prohibitive, and c) did I mention I don’t have the money? I’ve looked into scholarships, but there are not a lot of graduate scholarships out there, and I don’t really want to teach at a university. I’m not even sure it’s worth the time, let alone the money. Don’t get me wrong, I think education is important, but I think it’s going in a very different direction. MOOCs are getting more recognized, and huge amounts of research using citizen scientists are becoming more popular too. I think the day when you can teach and conduct real research outside of a university is just around the corner. So maybe universities should drop their prices is all I’m saying.

So in conclusion, my personal update is this: I’m almost done with grad school, I’m in a very ‘we don’t need no education’ mood, and I have no idea what I’m doing.

I’m pretty sure that’s how everyone feels after college. Right?

 

 

 

 

 

p.s. Oh yeah – the good news! I got made president of a small astronomy outreach NPO. That made my whole year.

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My Favorite Book of All Time

3 Jul

Seriously, this is my favorite book of all time.  I know, it’s old.  But it’s held up really well.

 

 

Now you must find the time to read it.  You MUST!

Conversations on the Plurality of Worlds (Hargreaves translation)

Remember That One Time…

1 Jun Rosetta Space Probe

When the Minor Planet Center cataloged the Rosetta Space Probe as an asteroid?

Yeah.  Me too.  It was awesome.

What with all the attention surrounding asteroid 1998 QE2 and its newly discovered moon, I thought I’d take some time to talk about my favorite asteroid of all time, 2007 VN84.

Which turned out to be the Rosetta Space Probe.

The Rosetta Space Probe

‘It appears to be mostly metallic… oddly shaped…’

I love the fact that this happened partly because it strikes me as being funny, and partly because I love it when things don’t turn out the way they’re expected to.  For people that don’t remember, it happened in 2007, and there was some hubbub over it.  Richard Kowalski discovered the asteroid, which appeared extremely close and looked to be about 20 meters across and would come within 1.89 Earth radii of our geocenter (or within 5,700 km/3,500 miles).  Now that is close (you’ll notice everyone has been talking about how close 1998 QE2 is at 3.5 million miles).

It should be noted that Kowalski is actually a pretty badass astronomer.  He was the first to predict an asteroid hitting Earth (2008 TC3) which then did enter Earth’s atmosphere (it’s hard to actually find and predict asteroids that collide with us because they’re usually pretty darn small) and exploded over the Nubian Desert.  He’s got his own asteroid named after him (7392 Kowalski) but the reason he’s really cool is he’s for professional and amateur astronomers working together and building a community (and I love that stuff).  He founded the Minor Planet Mailing List, which is available to everyone, so really, my point is, yes, the Rosetta Space Probe is not an asteroid, but it doesn’t really diminish the discoverer’s awesomeness.

The astronomer who recognized that 2007 VN84 was not, in fact, an asteroid, was Denis Denisenko (of supernovae 2011IP and 2011HZ fame) and who, presumably, has X-men superpowers when it comes to remembering probe trajectories.

With the Minor Planet Center observations crossing the 100 million mark this last March, and identifying over 600,000 orbits, and with thousands of artificial satellites going around Earth, and a goodly number of space probes (like Rosetta) that have been sent out, I’m actually shocked that the 2007 incident doesn’t happen more often.

I know that none of the above is new info on spacey stuff (which is why it’s not taking up my usual Tuesday slot you’ll notice) but just in case you were wondering what my all time favorite minor planet (a.k.a ‘asteroid’) is, it’s the Rosetta Space Probe.