Bram Boroson, Master of Subtle Ways and Straight (bram) wrote,
Bram Boroson, Master of Subtle Ways and Straight
bram

Here I am starting an on-line journal! I've decided not to do it anonymously too. So that will probably set some limitations on what I'll write here. They say that journal-writing is a great way to stay creative, that you can review and reflect on what you've done and ponder plans... I think most people writing journals do so with some unconscious idea that someone's going to read it some day. Putting it here in cyberspace, I *know* people can read it!

Ok, who am I? People reading this can start off with one of my home pages, either
work
or

home
.
I'm an astrophysicist working at NASA. I'm 32 years old, single Jewish (though not religious) male. Before I tell everyone how my day was, I thought I'd give a brief sample of what the work day of an astrophysicist at NASA is like. I imagine some people think it's a glamorous job (get to be creative, within constraints; get to make mind-boggling discoveries at the edge of our Universe) and other people think it's kind of a geek job (speak in jargon, work hard getting details right, only a few specialists in the world care about exactly what we do)... Probably most people have an opinion in between. Anyway, I keep a "journal" at work in a computer directory called to_do_list, and thought I'd share an example (within the ----- signs):
5-15-00:
------------------------------------------------
to do:

go to the talk today (it's jim chiang)

write section for lev
#2nd priority; though I'm starting to suspect these sources will be hard to observe!

run model for saku (read paper)
#1st priority

lmc x-4 fuse:
1) let program finish, record best-fit values, make plot
#done

improve program: examine continuum background, make sure it's dividing by total # of degrees of freedom for chi2
#looks ok
important: see what happens when the effect of absorption of x-rays in the wind is taken into account
#now trying proper orbital phase (corrected for inclination)
#a slight improvement actually in chi2 (and it actually didn't
go through a rigorous minimization search): chi2=16.81 vs. 17.31 before... have a look at the plot

2) figure out why I can't get kurucz spectra from iue rdaf, get those spectra, prepare to model lmc x-4 continuum (ellipsoidal) variability
#do this next
#it's working! I just had to rename !iuer.database
#ok, spent some time realizing the old program needs the database to have decreasing temperature vs. index... fixed that
#ran continuum program w/out any adjustments, the flux is generally about 20% too high, but that's not so surprising
#e(b-v) could be uncertain, hey wait, for some reason it didn't include emission from the disk--go fix that, should add at least 8%, probably
more (contributes more in far uv than near uv)

3) work on text, put in stellar absorption line work--that's nice stuff, easy, discuss comparison w/ other stars

her x-1 wind:
do some simple estimates for line emission--exp(-upper level/k T)

Chandra proposal ideas (other than Her X-1):

3/20 and 3/21 list some ideas, but they're not great...
------------------------------------------------
Ok, what did all this mean? Obviously there's lots of jargon! But you can also see how much collaboration scientists need nowadays. Lev is my office-mate. (He's a really colorful character. He's Russian. He's always teasing the Russian-- Georgian, actually--woman across the hall. He called her "Kuruchka", which means "chic". Today she got a copy of the book she's been putting together from papers given at a conference, and Lev put a post-it over her name so it said "Kuruchka"!) Saku is my old boss. She's at Harvard. I use "Kurucz models" which are models of what different stars look like figured out by this guy Kurucz at Harvard. I went to a talk given by Jim Chiang, who I had collaborated with a bit before...

Speaking of Kuruchkas, there are these goose families with goslings that waddle by our window every day. Kuruchka says she's not like them though because they're always pecking at the grass and she rarely eats...

Anyway, today my softball team played. It's a co-ed league, but they have rules to keep it competitive for women. Men have to bat left-handed if they're right-handed, and vice-versa. The batting order has to alterante men and women, and I think the field positions too. I think I pulled a muscle running to 1st base my 1st time up (I got called out but it was very close). My 2nd time up I hit a single with the bases loaded and helped spark a rally with 2 outs, but we ended up losing anyway. This woman S who planned to be on the team but hurt her leg wasn't there today (she was at our last 2 games.) I think she's pretty cute (she's also an astrophysicist at NASA) but she's a Muslim from Lebanon, which doesn't sound too promising (in terms of inevitable culture clashes, considering how our relatives in the Middle East are getting along.)

Believe it or not, most of the astrophysicists at lunch talk about stuff on TV: Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Seinfeld, Frasier... These people are of course really smart. And this is probably a way of making lunch more cordial and less competitive than if we talked science or showed off snobby smart-person interests. But I have this depressing sense that most of us in our off-time sit around zoned out in front of a TV or computer (in my case, I don't have a TV, but have started to consume junk-internet in mass quantities.) So part of my purpose in starting this journal is also to talk back to the net, to be a little less passive and zoned-out in my off-hours, to put my thoughts out there...

Anyway, I should get to sleep now! Good night!
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