NRFG, day 1

Binney (Oxford) and Rix got their larger diasporae together in Heidelberg starting today to discuss all things Milky-Way-dynamical. A lot of the conversation is about inference with real data (which I love). The ultimate theme is that we don't know what to do with the Gaia data (or any other data, really), so we dubbed the meeting Not Ready For Gaia (hashtag #NRFG).

There were many more things that happened than can be comfortably typed in a blog post, but Schlafly (MPIA) gave a great talk on the three-d dust map he has been making with Green (CfA) and Finkbeiner (CfA), including absolutely dramatic comparisons with the (now old) SFD map made from IRAS data. Sales (Oxford) showed how informative spatial priors can be used to regularize or improve (in principle) three-d dust maps. Sanders (Oxford) showed that cold tidal streams do not align with orbits (a subject discussed frequently in this forum in the past). He did a great job (in part bashing Rix and my work with Koposov for its naïvete, or, as he so politely put it, "approximations"), despite the fact that Rix and I wouldn't shut up with comments and questions during his talk. Absolutely excellent stuff. I expected to spend time telling people to be more careful with the data, but both groups are super-probabilistic in their reasoning and trying to be principled with the data.

Late in the day I gave a Königstuhl Colloquium on the blackboard about MCMC. In principle it is going to be posted in video form on the web sometime soon.

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