Yike Tang gave Marshall (participating from afar) and me an update on the hierarchical weak lensing projects he has been working on. We had various realizations during the update, one of which is that Yike should be doing maximum-marginalized-likelihood when he requires an estimator and passing forward full likelihood information when he doesn't. We asked him to re-tool to this path, started a template paper manuscript, and, late in the day, I wrote an abstract for the project. We are a long way from having a publishable paper, but Tang's results are really tantalizing: He gets great performance out of the hierarchical machinery.
In somewhat bigger (but less personal) news, Oppenheimer (AMNH) lifted the embargo on our exoplanet project: With the help of Rob Fergus (and cheerleading by me), Oppenheimer's P1640 instrument has successfully taken near-infrared spectra of the four companions (young planets) of HR8799. The spectra show evidence of various temperatures and compositions. They were extracted with data-driven-model magic from Fergus, plus a lot of great hardware and adaptive-optics engineering by the P1640 team. The paper is on arXiv here and got some press, including this piece by Caleb Scharf (Columbia).