ADASS DAY #3

These are my opinions and thoughts about the second day of ADASS.   It isn’t necessarily a summary of the day or complete but  just my reflections on the day along with some random commentary or thoughts.  Also these thoughts might not be in chronological order and can also be pretty random.  See here for Day #1 and Day #2.    

1.  Day #3 and there was 17 talks!!   And a focus session on glueviz by Tom Robitaille (who had a talk on astropy today as well!).   I’d complain but they were all great!!  Good job POC!    Really, I’m not going to be able to mention everything that I want to, but see Alice Allen’s @asclnet tweets as she has been doing an incredible job of tweeting out so many details from talks.  As someone who can’t always attend meetings, I love twitter for this and people who tweet as it lets me follow the conference from afar (side suggestion:  if talks are uploaded before they were given or at least at the same time, this would be even more helpful for people that can’t attend meetings).    Nonetheless, thank you to the POC for a great and interesting meeting so far!

2.  Look, I’m completely and utterly biased, but astropy makes me want to break out in song.   For me, I’ve learn so much, seen people do so many helpful things, met so many great people,  and just really, really enjoyed the community.   There is so much to write about here as I am very enthusiastic about the project, but I’ll save it for later.   Nonetheless, it is always helpful to hear constructive criticism so please share if you do have issues.

3.  I really enjoyed the talk about the Firbebal in the Sky project talk by Hadrien Devillepoix .  It uses mostly off the shelf hardware to detect and track meteorites.    They are then hoping to find the meteorites on the ground and it is a real test of the measurements as small errors could result in wandering around in the desert for weeks.

4.  Greg Madsen may never be allowed to return to the United States again after giving away the top secret positions of all the satellites.   He had a great and interesting talk about how to detect space junk even if it was also interrupted by a fire alarm.

5.  Challenges from today that I remember :

  • How do we make it easy for people to build science archives?
  • How do we make ADASS a better conference?
  • How to enable creativity from data archives?

6.   #OMG, #allthepixels, #mindblown: Chris Fluke’s talk about how to physically visualize things was amazing.  I’d love to try out the Cave (see Dany Vohl’s poster), and looking forward to trying out Kai Polsterer’s demos with stereoscopic display if the crowd surrounding it ever thins out.  We really will be viewing data differently in a few years if not already.

7.   It doesn’t matter what you write in.    Pragya Mohan wrote a beautiful, photoshop-esqe FITS viewer in java,  Elise Hampton wrote The Machine, what looks to be a incredible powerful machine learning spectra fitter, in Octave.    Faviola Molina was using a smalltalk variant to create a powerful visualization tool.  Sarah Hegarty was using python to convert simulations into realistic images with the Theoretical Astrophysical Observatory.  Ian Stewart has been updating lime, a mostly c code for  radiation transfer code for molecular lines.  Xiuqin Wu was talking about what seemed like everything used to create firefly, the amazing interface for the IPAC archives.  The diversity of languages spurns creativity and different thinking.  And today, we can easily wrap or use different languages so it doesn’t matter what you write it, it just matters what you write.

8.  I had a feeling of ennui listening to Sean Carey’s talk on the final calibrations of Spitzer.  I’ve used data from Spitzer and know a lot of people that have built their careers on Spitzer observations, and it is sad to hear about the final calibrations for a facility.   It will still be working for at least a few more years, but our instruments become so important to us that it can be difficult to lose them.

9.  Today came completely full circle.  It ended with Guido de Marchi talking about how do we make archives more than just places to hold raw data but to enable creativity, which  was such a good reflection on Ann Marie Cody’s talk, which started Day #3 off, that was about building an archive of information about young stellar objects.   She highlighted the difficulty of integrating all the data in the literature along with observations from a wide range of telescopes.  For me, these two talks left the biggest impact on me and I think highlight where we can go in the future.