### The Caltech ExoLab at AAS

I'm very proud of my group at Caltech: The ExoLab. My goal upon arriving at Caltech as a professor was to set up a diverse research team working on a diverse collection of projects spanning theory, observation, and instrumentation. Thanks to the outstanding students and postdocs working with me, we have attained that goal over the past three years. Go team!

We've also managed to be quite productive over the past year, as evidenced by the large number of talks and posters we'll present at the upcoming American Astronomical Society meeting in Long Beach next week. My postdocs, grad students and undergrads will be presenting every day of the meeting. Be sure to to stop by and chat with us, and our collaborators, about our work focused on the detection and characterization of exoplanets and the stars they orbit.

149.06. Minerva: A Dedicated Observatory for the Detection of Small Planets in the Solar Neighborhood
Kristina Hogstrom; John A. Johnson; Jason Wright; Nate McCrady; Jonathan Swift; Philip Muirhead; Michael Bottom; Peter Plavchan; Ming Zhao; Reed L. Riddle

149.07. Optimizing Doppler Surveys for Planet Yield
Michael Bottom; Philip Muirhead; John A. Johnson; Cullen Blake

149.08. Improving Radial Velocity Precision for Faint Star Extra-Solar Planet Surveys
Andrew Vanderburg; John A. Johnson; Philip Muirhead

149.10. Ultra-Precise Radial Velocimetry with Lock-In Amplified Externally Dispersed Interferometry
Rebecca M. Jensen-Clem; Philip Muirhead; Gautam Vasisht; James K. Wallace; John A. Johnson

158.09. Measuring the Distribution of Active M Dwarfs in the Galaxy
J. Sebastian Pineda; Andrew A. West; John J. Bochanski; Adam J. Burgasser

109.06. Precision Near-Infrared Radial Velocity Instrumentation and Exoplanet Survey
Peter Plavchan; Guillem Anglada-Escude; Russel J. White; Charles A. Beichman; Carolyn Brinkworth; Michael P. Fitzgerald; Ian S. McLean; John A. Johnson; Peter Gao; Cassy Davison; Michael Bottom; David Ciardi; James K. Wallace; Bertrand Mennesson; Kaspar von Braun; Gautam Vasisht; Lisa A. Prato; Stephen R. Kane; Angelle M. Tanner

252.12. A Serendipitous Doppler Survey of B-type Stars at Keck with HIRES
Juliette Becker; John A. Johnson; Tim Morton

36.01. Hot on the Trail of Warm Planets Orbiting Cool M Dwarfs
John A. Johnson

334.02D. Enabling the Kepler Exoplanet Census
Tim Morton

334.04. Characterizing the Cool KOIs: Sub-Earth-Sized Planet Candidates Around Mid M Dwarfs
Philip Muirhead; Juliette Becker; Andrew Vanderburg; John A. Johnson; Bàrbara Rojas-Ayala; Kevin R. Covey; Katherine Hamren; Everett Schlawin; James P. Lloyd

334.06. Robotic Transit Follow-up: Adaptive Optics Imaging of Thousands of Stars
Nicholas M. Law; Tim Morton; Christoph Baranec; Reed L. Riddle; Shriharsh P. Tendulkar; John A. Johnson; Khann Bui; Mahesh Burse; Pravin Chordia; H. Das; Richard Dekany; Shrinivas R. Kulkarni; Sujit Punnadi; A. N. Ramaprakash

343.18. Retired A Stars and Their Companions: The Latest Discoveries
Marta Bryan; John A. Johnson; Andrew Howard

343.23. Model-Independent Stellar and Planetary Masses From Multi-Transiting Exoplanetary Systems
Benjamin Montet; John A. Johnson

407.02D. Constraining Planetary Migration Mechanisms with Highly Eccentric Hot Jupiter Progenitors
Rebekah I. Dawson; John A. Johnson; Ruth Murray-Clay; Tim Morton; Justin R. Crepp; Daniel C. Fabrycky; Andrew Howard

407.04. Kepler-32 and the Formation of Planets Around Kepler's M Dwarfs
Jonathan Swift; John A. Johnson; Tim Morton; Justin R. Crepp; Benjamin Montet; Daniel C. Fabrycky; Philip Muirhead

### 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…