Monday, January 18, 2010

Notes from the Beach

I have spent the last two weeks at two conferences. First the American Astronomical Society (AAS) 215th Meeting in Washington DC, second Essential Cosmology for the Next Generation: Cosmology on the Beach in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Both were really helpful for both learning new astrophysics, as well as getting lots of new ideas for my work.

I thought I would summarize here the highlights (with links to talks, and a list of things I would like to look into myself).

Max Tegmark coined the phrase "Goldilocks Galaxies" when talking about the Luminous Red Galaxies (LRGs) in SDSS. This is because "Quasars are too sparse, common galaxies are too dense, but LRGs are just right."

Mark also talked about 21 cm tomography comparing it to the CMB in it's potential importance to cosmology. His description unfortunately was pretty general and I don't think I understand how it works. Need to read a review paper on this. Looks like this might be a good one.

Nicholas Suntzeff had an interesting slide at the end of his talk where he gave advice to young cosmologists about how to be competitive for jobs. I've repeated it below:
  • Don’t keep on doing your thesis over and over again
  • Establish prominent collaborators and mentors, but appear independent
  • Publish, publish, publish. Include useful tables of summary and colorful figures that can be easily captured.
  • Apply for external funding
  • Luck verus hard work
  • Become the leader in your field
  • Think carefully about joining large projects with time scales of > 5 years.
  • Spergel’s law
  • Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb and say something weird (people will remember you).
  • The Aaronson effect in obsevations.
  • When you apply for jobs, make sure you know all about the department – and brown nose a bit. Write your application as if there is no other job out there. Know your audience.

Berian James is a new post-doc at the BCCP starting this spring. He had some ideas about Newman project and had talked to others who are working on similar things (he named John Peacock and Hannah Parkinson at Edinburgh). He also had an interesting idea that it would be great if we could positions from photometry and a redshift distribution and generate a correlation function from these two things. He was wondering if anyone has done this. I should talk to him more about this when he gets to Berkeley.

Dovi Poznanski suggested I look at quasar variability using overlapping Sloan plates. Apparently 20% of the data has multiple epochs. Josh Bloom also told us that we could get good variability information using Palomar data. Nic Ross and I should set up a meeting with him when we get back.

Daniel Matthews is Jeff Newman's graduate student. He presented a poster at the AAS (see Jan 2nd email, subject: poster, he sent me a copy). In this poster he talked about doing redshift distribution reconstructions of "DEEP-like" data. He does something different than what Newman does in his paper. He claimed that he couldn't get Newman's method to work -- this is discouraging. Maybe it's time to try to talk to Newman directly about the project to clarify this?

The Joe Wolf Effect.

Marilena LoVerde discussed lensing of quasars from hydrogen in the ly-alpha forest. I talked to her afterwards and it doesn't seem like this effect his that large, but might be relevant for BOSS/BIG BOSS. The talk isn't posted on the Cosmology on the Beach web page as of right now.

Eyal Kazin has a web page with LRG catalogs. He said he is interested in the Newman Project and is very familiar with SDSS data, and to contact him if we want help. These LRGs might be useful data to use instead of the ones I downloaded from CAS, and don't really trust.

I had some thoughts about if I should request authorship on future DRIFT analysis papers, considering they didn't allow me to publish my work. I don't know what the protocol for this type of thing is, or if it even matters at this point in my career.

I had a great time at these conferences and learned a lot. Time to get back to real work now! Science to follow....

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