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Showing posts from December, 2008

Owen!

Running in Nonna & Papi's back yard, Houston, TX, December 2008.

Marcus!

Playing in the Johnny Jump-up at Nonna & Papi's house, Houston, TX, December 2008

Learning to Fall Asleep

"Sleeping like a baby." Whoever came up with that aphorism clearly never had a baby. When you have a kid, you come to realize that babies are terrible sleepers. They have no sleeping skillz. Specifically, they're horrible at falling asleep. They need rocking, singing, humming, perfect quiet, a loud fan--all types of aids just to relax and fall asleep. And then they're up 2 hours later.

I'm very perplexed about this behavior. When our ancestors were hunting and gathering while living in the forest, how did enough of us survive to reach civilization with babies screaming their heads off every 2 hours? A primitive mother doing laps around the ol' tree for an hour with a screaming infant doesn't work so well for passing on genes, at least it seems to me. Holy sabre-tooth lion attacks! Were babies better sleepers 100,000 years ago? Did they have the ability to fall asleep peacefully back then and lose the skill as humans got more sophisticated and softer? Is an…

In the news...hopefully

UH Astronomer Uses Ultra-Sensitive Camera to Measure the Size of a Planet Orbiting a Distant Star

(See also: oklo)

A team of astronomers led by John Johnson of the University of Hawaii's Institute for Astronomy has used a new technique to measure the precise size of a planet around a distant star. They used a camera so sensitive that it could detect the passage of a moth in front of a lit window from a distance of 1,000 miles.

The camera, mounted on the UH 2.2-meter telescope on Mauna Kea, measures the small decrease in brightness that occurs when a planet passes in front of its star along the line-of-sight from Earth. These "planet transits" allow researchers to measure the diameters of worlds
outside our solar system.

"While we know of more than 330 planets orbiting other stars in our Milky Way galaxy, we can measure the physical sizes of only the few that line up just right to transit," explains Johnson. The team studied a planet called WASP-10b, which was though…

Owen's reason for the season

One of my favorite things is when Erin and the boys pick me up from work. When I walk out Erin usually parks such that Owen's window faces the front door of the IfA, and as I come out he usually shouts, "Daddy!" and smiles really big and I say, "Baaaahhhh, OWEN!." It's a great way to end the work day.

Yesterday was different, however. Owen's window wasn't down and he wasn't smiling. When I got in the car I said, "Baaahhh, OWEN!" He informed me, "No Daddy, I'm grumpy!" The reason for his sour mood was that the play structure he wanted to play on was undergoing renovations. So one can understand his less than sunny disposition.

On our way home Owen sat in the back and stewed. But when we rounded the corner on Liloa Rise, we all spotted something truly glorious: A new Christmas display that featured, dun duh dun, a choo-choo christmas light display!

Erin said, "Owen, do you see what I see?!" To which Owen replied, &qu…

Science! In Action!

I've been invited to give a Wunch talk at the Princeton Department of Astrophysical Sciences in mid-December. Wunch stands for Wednesday Lunch, and as far as I can tell Wunch talks are the same as colloquia in other departments, which are formal, hour-long presentations about your research. It's a good way of advertising your work, meeting important people in your field, and getting really stressed out! Compounding matters is the fact that I applied for their tenure-track faculty position, which potentially makes this particular talk of mine my Job Talk (granted, every talk is a job talk, but...)

In an effort to relieve a little stress and break the monotony of preparing my Power Point slides, I decided to break out Gawker and make a time-lapse video of myself working. I snapped a frame every 10 seconds and recorded at 16 frames per second. I look remarkably like a Bobble Head Doll. Amazingly, I avoided picking my nose while filming. Well, I avoided having my nose-picking captu…