### Hanging out on the Frontier of Astronomy

I'm giving my first public astronomy lecture on June 30! I've actually known about this for a while, but they finally finished the posters last week and put them online.

The lecture will be video recorded, so I'll post the video if I can. But if you happen to be in Honolulu on the 30th, stop by for the talk!

mama mia said…
Wow! Love the poster! want a copy if possible....John, I hope you are able to post a link the video, as I'd love to hear the talk.
karinms said…
That is SO COOL! You should get a framed copy of the poster. Its a really nice poster. I'm looking forward to watching it online. Good luck!!
blissful_e said…
Way to go, Dr Johnson!

I'm sure it will be a terrific talk and I hope you can post the video so we can learn all about exoplanets!
Marshall said…
Wow, that's an awesome poster. You clearly are giving a far more stylish public talk than the one I gave two months ago in Ventura. (And surely with much cooler and more exciting science, to boot. ) Good luck on it! Having just done this myself, it was a complete blast, with a super enthusiastic audience who kept asking really great questions. (Though not necessarily all related to the subject of my talk - the questions eventually drifted into "ask an astronomer anything" mode, challenging my ability to explain cosmology...)

Heh, in fact I thought of you at one point during that night. There was this one cute-but-insecure retired gentleman, who kept prefacing every question with "I know this is probably a stupid question but... <insert really good question>". At one point, he asked something along the lines of "I know this is probably a silly question, but do different kinds of stars have different kinds of planets?" Well, there's this guy I know in Hawaii you might want to ask about that... :-)
fayebean said…
That is so cool!! I especially love the part "Dr. Johnson"!!! Other people have to call you that!! Do you ever get over how cool that is!! Have fun and good luck!!
fayebean said…
That is so cool!! I especially love the part "Dr. Johnson" in the description!! Other people have to call you that!! Do you ever get over how cool that is? Have fun and good luck!!

### On the Height of J.J. Barea

Dallas Mavericks point guard J.J. Barea standing between two very tall people (from: Picassa user photoasisphoto).

Congrats to the Dallas Mavericks, who beat the Miami Heat tonight in game six to win the NBA championship.

Okay, with that out of the way, just how tall is the busy-footed Maverick point guard J.J. Barea? He's listed as 6-foot on NBA.com, but no one, not even the sports casters, believes that he can possibly be that tall. He looks like a super-fast Hobbit out there. But could that just be relative scaling, with him standing next to a bunch of extremely tall people? People on Yahoo! Answers think so---I know because I've been Google searching "J.J. Barea Height" for the past 15 minutes.

So I decided to find a photo and settle the issue once and for all.

I then used the basketball as my metric. Wikipedia states that an NBA basketball is 29.5 inches in circumfe…

### Finding Blissful Clarity by Tuning Out

It's been a minute since I've posted here. My last post was back in April, so it has actually been something like 193,000 minutes, but I like how the kids say "it's been a minute," so I'll stick with that.
As I've said before, I use this space to work out the truths in my life. Writing is a valuable way of taking the non-linear jumble of thoughts in my head and linearizing them by putting them down on the page. In short, writing helps me figure things out. However, logical thinking is not the only way of knowing the world. Another way is to recognize, listen to, and trust one's emotions. Yes, emotions are important for figuring things out.
Back in April, when I last posted here, my emotions were largely characterized by fear, sadness, anger, frustration, confusion and despair. I say largely, because this is what I was feeling on large scales; the world outside of my immediate influence. On smaller scales, where my wife, children and friends reside, I…

### The Force is strong with this one...

Last night we were reviewing multiplication tables with Owen. The family fired off doublets of numbers and Owen confidently multiplied away. In the middle of the review Owen stopped and said, "I noticed something. 2 times 2 is 4. If you subtract 1 it's 3. That's equal to taking 2 and adding 1, and then taking 2 and subtracting 1, and multiplying. So 1 times 3 is 2 times 2 minus 1."

I have to admit, that I didn't quite get it at first. I asked him to repeat with another number and he did with six: "6 times 6 is 36. 36 minus 1 is 35. That's the same as 6-1 times 6+1, which is 35."

Ummmmm....wait. Huh? Lemme see...oh. OH! WOW! Owen figured out

x^2 - 1 = (x - 1) (x +1)

So $6 \times 8 = 7 \times 7 - 1 = (7-1) (7+1) = 48$. That's actually pretty handy!

You can see it in the image above. Look at the elements perpendicular to the diagonal. There's 48 bracketing 49, 35 bracketing 36, etc... After a bit more thought we…