### The public, they love the exoplanets!

From: Robert Jedike
Subject: John Johnson on Exoplanets

Date: July 1, 2008 5:00:37 PM HST

To: ifa@ifa.hawaii.edu

Last night John Johnson, IfA NSF Postdoctoral Fellow, gave a Frontiers of Astronomy Lecture on 'Other Worlds' to the Friends of the IfA and other members of the public. It was our biggest crowd ever, attracting more than 120 people and requiring us to pipe the presentation to the TV in the foyer outside the auditorium. I've received tremendous positive feedback on John's talk from Friends of the IfA and from members of the IfA as well. Thank you John!

Sadly, the presentation was not taped :( So you'll have to use your imagination to picture me sounding like a professional astronomer, all wowing the crowd with live demonstrations of Doppler shifts, whiz-bang movies of exoplanets, cool pictures, and a few jokes here and there. The audience was extremely attentive and friendly. The questions afterward were excellent and on point. Not a single question about black holes, alternate universes or time travel!

After spending the past week busting my butt to get this talk in order and stressing out about the delivery, I'm excited to get back to work searching for planets. I'm on the UH88 telescope all next week. Please think clear, dry, cloudless thoughts for me.

jcom said…
Look at all those captivated Hawaiian shirts! Congrats. =)
karinms said…
Did you get a lei?? I want to give a public talk in Hawaii!! Great job!!
martha said…
I'm SO proud!
MOM
blissful_e said…
If anyone can do outer-space a good turn by making her extra interesting, it's you. Well done!

### 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…

### 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…

### The Long Con

Hiding in Plain Sight

ESPN has a series of sports documentaries called 30 For 30. One of my favorites is called Broke which is about how professional athletes often make tens of millions of dollars in their careers yet retire with nothing. One of the major "leaks" turns out to be con artists, who lure athletes into elaborate real estate schemes or business ventures. This naturally raises the question: In a tightly-knit social structure that is a sports team, how can con artists operate so effectively and extensively? The answer is quite simple: very few people taken in by con artists ever tell anyone what happened. Thus, con artists can operate out in the open with little fear of consequences because they are shielded by the collective silence of their victims.
I can empathize with this. I've lost money in two different con schemes. One was when I was in college, and I received a phone call that I had won an all-expenses-paid trip to the Bahamas. All I needed to do was p…