Thursday, June 29, 2006


Amazing what things look like at 1/4000th of a second. The left side says entropy, surface tension, kinetic energy, internal viscosity...... the right side says oooooh.... pretty........

Sunset Sundog

I've been spending my afternoons at Ala Moana reading papers. I'm trying to get caught up on scattering and circumstellar disks. I managed to lapse an awesome sunset and catch a mild sundog in the cirrus.

The sunset.
The sundog after some enhancements - note the two arcs in the cirrus clouds that would form a "ring" around the sun.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Goering Quote

Judy had this quote attached to her email. I thought it was really interesting.

"Of course the people don't want war... that is understood. But, after
all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and
it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a
democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist
dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to
the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell
them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of
patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any

--Hermann Goering, Adolf Hitler's Deputy Chief and Luftwaffe Commander,
at the Nuremberg trials, 1946.

And I checked it up on google-answers. It was from an interview in Goerings cell later written up as the Nuremberg-Diary.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Boxing on Speed

I decided to try out timelapsing the boxing class. It was really funny. Since fighers all return to the same stance, the line drills look like we're all just toys sliding up and down the floor. The TKD class in the front is pretty funny too. Here's the big and small versions. I'll be doing the Friday double-header (box, grapple) so that should be even better.

Class as usual.
Sean flailing his arms again, me about to get kicked, and Lyndle schmoozing with the ladies.

Sean about to get railed in the face. Just kidding.

Monday, June 26, 2006

DI Paper

More work, but more good news - my Deep-Impact paper was accepted for publication with only minor changes recommended. Sweet! Now I get to switch between modelling and editing. At least that's a little more fun......

Monte-Carlo Madness

I gave a quick "sell-yourself" intro-to-spectropolarimetry talk friday morning to the IfA. There's a bunch of undergrads here for the summer doing research projects and "they" wanted grads to give intros. The REU's were mostly awake, but most of the faculty/grads glazed over in the first few minutes. I got some really funny, contorted, twisted and dazed looks from some of the people in the back. Hard to not laugh sometimes..... This is the 4th time I've given talks up there on this subject and they've all turned out the same. I asked a lot of people for comments. Everybody was generally positive about the talk itself and didn't see too much wrong (talked fast someplaces, some slides to crowded, etc), but nothing too bad. I was still confused about the response until Sean connected a lot of things by saying that

1) most astronomers don't really care how an experiment is done, they just want to be able to argue about results (which is why they hire cheap data monkeys and force them to do all the dirty work)

2) i didn't actually present any results in my talk - it's my fault for keeping it intro but ended up losing most people by not presenting anything concrete or conclusive.

3) polarization is hard and most haven't thought of light as an electromagnetic wave in a while - we just count photons here.

This was inspiration to actually deal with the pain and suffering of hacking a bunch of Monte-Carlo models and learning a new programming language - Fortran. (I know, Fortran old as all hell, but for numerical work it's orders of magnitude faster and still the code of choice for most) I need to be able to show pretty pictures and videos to explain what I'm talking about, and I also need to get on finding concrete answers. Only models do that with what I'm doing, and there's only a few people doing it. I think only one guy actually has running detailed models. My "thesis committee" said models should be part of my work, and now I actually agree. I still hate computers and I'm NOT looking forward to gaining 10 lbs and losing my tan again.

I've been running simulations for about 12 hours now, and I wrote some processing and plotting programs in IDL. Here's my first 3-D simulation - polarized intensity and vectors. I took a bunch of photons from a star, randomly threw them outward towards the circumstellar disk and let them scatter. The lines show the direction of polarization of the light.

Here's a disk seen edge-on - bright means lots of photons.

Same disk but face-on.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Keolu Hike

I had a bunch of papers that I needed to read so I thought I would make use of an "intersting-cloud-day" and go hike a short trail on the windward side to a nice lookout. I spent about 6 hours sitting on the trail reading while I took a bunch of awesome timelapse. They're going to be sweet!! Here's some shots from the hike.

The pali, and Keolu.

The Pali Lookout from the other side.

Kailua Bay.
Lani Kai
Waimanalo Bay


So, the lock was only a little screwed up, but not drilled, and the ignition was fine. They got away with the stereo (from 1990), a pocket knife, flashlight, and.... case of oil, but not the snorkeling gear, boots, boogie board, etc. I think they got about $50 at the pawn shop. wtf?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Happy F*&# Birthday, Again.

Today, I'm 25. I borrowed DnA's car last night so I could wake up at 5am to drive Liz to the airport. She's leaving for some weddings and a home visit. We go out to the street, where I parked DnA's car........ Last time I remember, they owned a Toyota, not a Lancer. Hmm. Not so good of a start (yet again) to my birthday. I call the 5-O. They said the car had been towed. Well, ok. Why? Tresspass. It was on the street. No, it was in somebody's stall, a mile away. I live at McCully n Lime, top left corner. It was found at 2558 La'au, bottom right corner.
How the hell did it get there? When was it towed? 2am. I guess somebody stole it and just abandoned it there....... The Lancer where a Camry once was.....
I woke DnA up after getting Liz a taxi to the airport. Angelica called the towing company. In usual style, the person at the office said that they couldn't tell us anything about the car because they were in the office and the car was in the lot. No, they can't go down and look at it, and no they can't ask somebody else.

The 5-O came and we filed our "reports". D has to go and pick up the car and have it fingerprinted and take an "inventory". I have no idea how they got into it because I still have the key, there was no glass *at the scene* and towing companies won't tow a car if it shows any kind of lock or ignition damage (can you tell that everything gets stolen here?) At least this didn't turn out like Lisa's stolen Civic in Pearl City where she had it for about 30 hours and they found it chopped to bits on the leeward side 3 weeks later. But still, b-day 2003 friend dies, b-day 2004 liz is hit by a car, now b-day 2006 car is stolen. At least 2005 was peaceful. I'm going to go eat some icecream and go to the beach. Work can kiss mine today.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Crystal Ball

Look into my crystal ball and see.......

interacting galaxies, colliding. the stars will never touch!
wait, what does the crystal ball say......
another one?


There's this online data archive of published papers called astro-ph where I just submitted my first paper - pdf here. I had to spend 2 hours learning how to compress figures and reformat things. I'm sure I'll use this stuff later, but it seemed like a waste of an afternoon. Anyways, the paper's due to be published in the PASP journal this month. Should be cool to finally get a real, first-author paper out, since so far I've only published posters and abstracts. I think the only cool thing to come of this was that I found out about ImageMagick which makes image processing ridicu-simple on mac/unix/linux machines. You just type "convert fig.eps -resize 50% whatever.jpg" and it takes care of all the file-format nonsense. Forget photoshop! Well, not really, but it can do most things anyways. It's awesome. At least I got to make and submit an abstract for the Brussels meeting today too. I feel at least a little more prepared to give a talk at a big meeting.....

Monday, June 19, 2006

Pics, Timelapse Up

Yet again, new timelapse and pictures are up - Big Island trip, Hanauma, North Shore.

North Shore Firetwirling

Last minute, the IfA crew decided/organized a going away party for Brandon. It was chaotic in the beginning (30+ cell calls) but hey, that's what they're for. Liz learned how to use the SLR so she got some awesome shots. We met up with a bunch of different people - guys from Cali, girls from Nevada and some locals later. They all were really cool and in to the twirling, not the usual "wedding" crowd - Liz didn't end up defending evolution/age of the Earth. That's always a good sign. Sunday nights seem to always go a lot better - nobody's throwing huge bashes, no cops, nice vibe. Too bad we've all sold our souls to pay our bills and 8am Monday morning comes way too quick. Students are lucker than most. I'm sure Liz is ridicu-tired today. The full set of pictures should be up on my website sometime today.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Product placement, random weddings

Liz loves snapple......
Sean told us that some IfA people were getting married up on the northshore this weekend. Go figure that I'd catch them with my zoom lens..... Small islands I guess. It's a little scary that everybody's getting married. Liz is going to 2 of them on Wednesday and has had to turn down one invite a month. I know a couple coming up soon. Is it hormones or just about that time?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Final Hike

Sean and I spent the last few hours up at altitude walking around big hills getting way-too out of breath. Uphill is hard. The wind felt like 50mph too. It was kind of fun to have to lean into it. Back to work and life-as-usual.

It's all over

I just got word from the 88" tech that the dewar window is cracked. This lens/window is the last optic before the CCD and is critical in the vacuum seal of the dewar. The camera is dead for months and we're headed home. So much for this project. At least I got a few good timelapses and a hike in. It was also fun just to see how the telescope worked.

Sean pointed out to me last night the static-electric-insanity that goes on when you sleep up here. Basically, every time you move there is a discharge between every hair on your body and the sheets. The most fun for me was the pillow case. I would move my forearm across the pillow and the most intense electrical-storm ever seen by man follows my arm. And it's not just a little spark. Each arc from my arm hits the pillow case and spreads out in an insane, web-like pattern a few to many inches across the fabric. And since every hair produces one of these, it looks like you're about to put your head down on a psycho-shock-therapy instrument. I spent the next 5 minutes trying to not think about what would happen to my head when I tossed and turned......

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


Tonight was supposed to be our first night. So much for that. We went up to the summit to try and get ready around 3pm. In talking with one of the techs, I noticed that the temperature gague was way too high. That means that the CCD's were way too warm. He then looked at the pressure gague and noticed that there was about 10000 times more gas in the dewar than there should have been. Oops. Looks like the vacuum seal was broken. So much for observing tonight. Here's a picture of the wide-field imager with the new "8K" array. This is a 64 megapixel camera (unlike my 6Mpixel digital camera).

Here's a shot of the CCD's inside the dewar taken from the instrument-description paper. The 8K camera is actually a mosaic - 8 smaller CCDs set side by side so that they act as one big one. Each one of the CCD's is 8 million pixels.
This is the UH 2.2m telescope. It's about 40 years old now...... and it shows.

We're trying to look at the Rho-Ophiuchus nebula. Here's a shot from Jeff Ball of the region. It's one of the few star-forming regions up in the summer.
And this is just for fun - the "Boc globules" and "cometary knots" on the edge of the helix nebulae. Basically, as a massive star dies and explodes, the ejected gas and the extreme radiation can wreak havoc on proto-stellar disks around nearby stars. This is what that looks like through Hubble. The "globules" are really just the proto-stars being shredded and blasted by the wind/radiation.

Summit Views

Here's a shot of the "valley". All the radio observatories are down there. Sean works at the little ones in the upper right. Last time I was over here, I was at the golf-ball helmet one in the lower left. Did anyone notice the mini-glacier? It's freekin June in the tropics. WTF?
Haleakala from the summit. Maui doesn't look so far away does it? It's neat to see it from this far away.
HP and the little pu'u we climbed yesterday. I'm really looking forward to hiking tomorrow.