Collected things before I hop on a plane for France:
- I’m hopping on a plane for France. Spending next week at the Pope’s old palace in Avignon, conferencing with fellow cosmologists about the latest and greatest in the field. I have apparently been appointed to honorary Grand Old Man status, as I’m giving the closing talk at the conference. The title is “White smokes and Dark smokes in cosmology,” and I presume you all understand the reference. I didn’t pick the title, I swear. No live-blogging, but if I’m feeling energetic I might drop in with updates.
- I’m still thinking about the Open Science idea, haven’t forgotten. But I haven’t really homed in on an appropriate project if we were to try it out. Ideally (I think) you would have something relatively modular, where people could work on separate sub-tasks and then bring them all together. But my own kind of research really isn’t like that; it’s more like I have a single idea that works or doesn’t, and we work out the basic consequences. But still contemplating.
- Subsequent to the post about NASA giving up on LISA, more official words have come from NASA itself. (The original posts here and elsewhere were based on emails from officials to scientists.) You can read more at Steinn’s blog, or some words from project scientist Robin Stebbins at Jennifer’s Discovery News blog. As far as I can tell, NASA has indeed given up on LISA, but they’re saying that “funding for gravitational wave astrophysics is unchanged,” which is certainly great news.
- Also at Discovery, Jennifer blogs about Silent Sky, a play by Lauren Gunderson about Henrietta Swan Leavitt. Well worth checking out for you Southern Californians. Amazing what ground-breaking scientific research the women “computers” at Harvard College Observatory managed to do, essentially in their spare time.
- Sad news out of Yale: an undergraduate physics and astronomy major was killed in a machine shop accident. Thoughts go out to her family and friends.
- U.S. Federal prosecutors, clearly sitting around bored with nothing better to do, have indicted leaders of online poker sites, and attempted to shut down the sites entirely. There is some legal confusion concerning the status of online poker, stemming from a silly piece of legislation called the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. It’s fairly clear that the people who wrote the bill intended to make online poker illegal, but the sites contend that they’ve found ways around the constraints, and have been operating openly for quite a while now. (I personally play at Full Tilt Poker.) Even more clear is that people should be able to play poker for money legally if they want to, and this is an absurd overreach by the government. But it might very well be the end of online poker, at least until the legislation is repealed.
- Interesting in giving a TED talk? Here’s your chance: they’re accepting auditions. Make a one-minute video that blows them away, and you might find yourself speaking in front of a global audience. Think of it as American Idol for ideas instead of voices.
- And while we’re talking about videos, the Dunlap Institute at the University of Toronto has a new effort to put science videos online. Right now mostly focused on their own videos, which have an astronomy slant, but they’re planning to branch out. Worth a look.
Off to Old Europe with me, see you on the flip side.