The Summer Ahead
posted by: mdolan2
So the summer is gearing up now and there’s so much to do. We have to get our patookuses in gear! Here is the Short Short List:
1. Get the Astro Institute organized and the material decided
2. Get the project decided (pretty much done really) and prepare for the student(s)
3. Organize with Tom Guthrie to see if we have what we need to start running models of binaries
4. Pick out binaries to model, then model them.
I’m not sure what to do about the Summer Institutes. I have some ideas, as I’m sure the others do, and Tom has made some suggestions. The experimental runs with the students this Spring were helpful, by showing me we need to either get very specific about one thing or do a survey and make it entertaining. The Black Hole topic I did with the students was well received, but I had to narrow it down to what Black Holes were instead of talking about the accretion disc. I did mention it, but the students seems to need more information on what Blacks Holes were, how they were formed, and they were detected. I’d need more feedback about Kate’s experience to know if perhaps doing a more general survey would have a bigger impact on students willingness and desire to learn science. Both possibilities have benefits and drawbacks
So, we have a great idea for the summer work with the students. Aaron McNeely found a project where real people can try to find asteriods and submit them to a database. There’s a lot of data available and it’s all very recent and waiting to be analyzed. It’s not that hard to do, but not trivial by any means. And it doesn’t require any night time observations. As a theorist with young children, I’m particularly appreciative of not having to be up all night on a regular basis. We’ll include some observing, I’m sure, but that won’t be the bulk of it. Plus that saves us from being at the mercy of the weather which was a huge problem last summer. Although, last year my then-newborn (who’s first birthday is tomorrow) slept like a champ until well after I got home, whereas now she wakes up twice (only twice! Yay!) and won’t sleep again without me. So she was actually easier to leave as a newborn than she is now. Such is life. Anyway. Back to the work ahead.
I’ve met with Tom once already, and we’ve emailed a few times. We just need to make sure he has a computer he can run the simulations on then I can show him how it works and we can pick some stars to model. I’d also like to analyze the code to explore the customizability of it.
Oh, and I need to finish this paper I’m writing. And go to the Lightwave Workshop. I don’t have any DVT shows scheduled right now, which is good. That one day with 4 shows was really hard, so I’m happy to have a break, but it was still fun. Kids love the DVT and finding new ways to make if go crazy is always fun.
At today’s meeting with the whole crew, after giving my presentation on some of the tools of my trade, and interesting observation was made. Lemme splain. No. There is too much. Lemme sum up. (10 points to the first person to guess where that’s from.) I was talking about stellar evolution and how stars respond to internal changes and how this relates to the HR diagram. The Hertzprung-Russell (HR) diagram is the log/log plot of luminosity versus surface temperature of a star. Anyway, the observation was made that I talked about stars like they were living things. For example, one thing I said was, “A star responds to an increase in temperature by expanding to cool itself.” (Hydrostatic equilibrium.) I hadn’t really thought about it that way before, but there is a tendency to talk about stars like they are living things because they do change over time, and parts of a star will change in response to input (energy) from another part of the star. It’s not sentient, but it is a system that attempts to self regulate and does change according to rules we are trying to understand. And a star does get born, it does age, and it does die. This is the language of stellar astrophysics. It’s pretty cool. Which would make it red.