Saturday, July 30, 2011

Natsu Con and my New Lecture

Convention season isn't quite over yet. I still have a few more to attend this year. In two weeks is Natsu Con here in St. Louis, or more precisely, Collinsville, IL. I'll be presenting my main talk there as usual, but with the hope that a fire alarm doesn't interrupt this year, as it did last.

In the meantime, I've been working on a new lecture that I will be debuting at this con on Japanese contributions to Astronomy. Researching this has been an immense information overload the past few weeks. As with so much in astronomy, there are rarely "Eureka!" moments based off singular observations. Rather, discoveries come from classifying and categorizing large numbers of objects. Teams from all over the world will contribute. The result is that very little in Astronomy can truly be called strictly a discovery by one nation. Even the major instruments that make the discoveries, satellites and observatories, have contributions of components from numerous nations.

The result has been trying to find what the end result of these small, piecemeal contributions have been, if indeed they were truly worked directly into any major theory today. But with publications lists for a single satellite, such as ASCA's numbering in the thousands of publications, that's leaving me with numerous threads to chase down!

Regardless, there's a few big ones I've discovered so far and with the time it will take to explain the background science well enough to understand them, I think I should have a pretty full talk already. I really enjoy digging through the history of the development of ideas and watching them blossom.

After Natsu Con, I'm done with conventions probably until Archon (a more sci-fi/fantasy based con) at which I don't plan on giving any talks, but may reconsider if anything strikes my fancy.

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