Skip to main content


Showing posts from May, 2010

Johnson Family Tour of Palomar Observatory

Sunday morning we woke up early, packed a picnic lunch, loaded the kids into the car, and headed South for a day at Palomar Observatory, one of Caltech's optical observatories, along with Keck. I had arranged for our visit with the site manager Dan, who volunteered to give us a private tour of all four active telescopes on the mountain, including the 60-inch (five-foot diameter) also known as the P60, the Oschin 48-inch Schmidt (P48), the little 24-inch, and the mighty 200-inch Hale Telescope.

When we saw the P60 and P48, Owen was fairly impressed, as was Marcus. They both said, "whoooaaahh" when we saw the "medium-sized" telescopes and they definitely wanted to touch their shiny exteriors. Owen was nervous about some of the steep, narrow stairwells. Marcus wanted to touch the hard hats hanging on the walls.

After the first two telescopes we ate lunch at the "Monastery," which is the fancy name for the observer's dorm rooms. Back in the day women …

super duper?

On an outing to the LA zoo today, the boys and I were stopped by a dapper fellow
surrounded by a TV crew, lights, microphones and camera in hand. After a few silly, somewhat awkward questions, I learned that we were being filmed for a bit on Jay Leno to air June 11th! It stars comedian Elon Gould as the UK's Super Duper Nanny. I played along and so did the boys and will most likely be made to look like a complete idiot on the show. So, tune in & hopefully you'll see me and the cuties... and hopefully I didn't make too much a fool of myself.

Owen and Marcus at the carwash


Owen L. Johnson: Bike-rider

Owen has been riding his "running bike" for about a year now. So we took the training wheels off of his other bike, which he rarely used, and he just took off riding like he'd been doing it all his life (or 1/5 of his life). Too bad his "big-boy bike" now looks like a clown cycle!

Also, a neighbor of ours kindly gave us a hand-me-down tricycle for Marcus, so we'll soon extend our family's maximum self-propelled range (MSPR).

Giant Exoplanets in the Stellar Mass-Metallicity Plane

Jupiters you seek?
Find massive, metal-rich stars
Planets you will find!

The diagram is from Greg Laughlin's I made up the haiku last night. Both pretty much summarize the major results of my latest paper, written with coauthors Kimberly Aller (just-graduated UCB physics/astro major and my REU summer student at U. Hawaii last year), Andrew Howard (UCB Postdoc and planet-hunter extraordinaire), and Justin Crepp (Caltech postdoc, statistics and high-contrast imaging expert).

The dependence of giant planet "occurrence" (where and how often we find gas-giant planets) was the focus of my thesis work at UC Berkeley. I expanded the mass range of our planet search by including "retired" massive stars in our survey. Massive stars are normally rapid rotators, which smears out their spectra and makes them difficult planet-search targets. But when stars get old enough to run out of hydrogen, they move into retirement, which causes them to slow down and become better-…

astro-ph ate my paper!

I've never had a problem with astro-ph before, but tonight it ate my latest paper. Here's the preview version, which I obsessively checked late last night:

And here's the mess that ended up in the official posting.

From now on I'm putting a URL in the meta data pointing to a backup copy. This is fairly disastrous for the debut of what I feel is an important result.

Sorry, I'm venting now. More on the actual science in the paper later...

busy, busy

by e

the last few weeks included a visit from papi, quilting for an auction for owen's preschool, lots of trips to the speech therapist for marcus (who is a bit delayed in his language development) & racing around on a pedal-bike with no training wheels!

during papi's visit we made our way to manhattan beach for a foggy morning of boardwalk bike riding. we also visited the home of the french dip sandwich at phillipe's. so tasty!

Google Equations!

You can now make pretty equations using LaTeX commands inside of Google Docs! I'm swooning...

Google also added Drawings, but unfortunately the application needs a lot of work. I found it very limited. For example, there's no eraser! WTF?

Heh, complaining about something I didn't know existed a few hours ago reminds me of this:

Louis CK - Everythings Amazing & Nobodys Happy

The whole thing is funny, but the relevant part is halfway through. But seriously, no Eraser Tool?!

As a note to myself, when the iPhone Google apps forget what timezone I'm in, I need to reset Safari. It took me an hour to figure this out. But I shouldn't forget that my phone is talking to a satellite IN SPACE. I should give it a minute...

My talks

So the video from the Discover/TMT discussion won't be available until the Discover Magazine article is published in a month or two. Until then, if you have a hankering to see me talk about science, here's a webcast of a recent talk I gave for a conference at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics at UC Santa Barbara.

I can't ever bring myself to watch videos of my presentations, so take a look and let me know how I did:

If for some reason you can't access the Flash video, here are the other formats: