Today was my first day of a two-day visit to Ben Farr (Oregon) and the University of Oregon. I got lots of work done during the travel phases of the day, because I have a NASA proposal due while I'm here in Oregon! Nothing like a deadline.
I had a great day. Highlights included a discussion with James Schombert (Oregon) about various philosophical matters related to falsification. He explicitly brought up my paper about plausibility and science, which I had nearly forgotten! It's nice to know that people are finding it useful still. I really wrote it to get some things off my chest, things that had been troubling me since graduate school in the 1990s. In that paper I argue that we prefer theories that are both observationally reasonable and also theoretically reasonable; there isn't really such a thing as purely empirical falsification. At least not in the observational sciences.
But of course the main theme of my visit was LIGO. The lure of discussing this project with Farr is what brought me here. We postponed our ideas for new projects until tomorrow and, maybe surprisingly, spent our time talking about university-based project management! Because although LIGO is well funded to build hardware and deliver strain measurements, what is done with those to detect and characterize systems and populations is left to the science community, which is a looser collaboration, and which must raise most of its money externally. And, like with the SDSS family of projects, relies on essentially volunteer efforts from many ornery faculty. That's an interesting set of problems in organizational management, psychology, and political science!