Today was the first day of dotastronomy, the meeting for astronomy and web and outreach and so-on, this time in Cambridge, MA. Stand-out talks included those by Stuart Lynn (Adler) on the Zooniverse and Elisabeth Newton (Harvard) about astronomy blogging in general (she mentioned this blog) and Astrobites in particular. Astrobites has been an incredible resource for astronomy, and it is carefully cultivated, edited, and managed. What a project!
In the afternoon we switched to unconference, some of which I skipped to attend a phonecon about Kepler data with the exoSAMSI crew, organized by Bekki Dawson (Harvard), who is effectively our leader. On that call, we discussed what everyone has been doing since exoSAMSI, which is quite a bit. Barclay (Ames) has been working on inferring the limb-darkening laws using transits as measuring tools. Quarles (Texas) has been searching the real-stars-with-injected-planets that we (read: Foreman-Mackey) made back at exoSAMSI, with some success. Foreman-Mackey and Angus have been searching for long-period systems with a fast Gaussian Process inside the search loop. We also spent some time talking about modeling the pixel-level data, since we at CampHogg have become evangelists about this. The SAMSI program, organized mainly by Eric Ford (PSU) has been incredibly productive and is effectively the basis for a lot of my research these days.
In my dotastro talk this morning, I mentioned the point that in "citizen science" you have to model the behavior of your citizens, and then generalized to "scientist science": If you are using data or results over which you have almost no control, you probably have to build a model of the behavior and interests and decision-making of the human actors involved in the data-generating process. In the afternoon, Lintott (Oxford) suggested that we find a simple example of this and write a short paper about it, maybe in an area where it is obviously true that your model of the scientists impacts your conclusions. That's a good idea; suggestions about how to do this from my loyal reader (you know who you are) are welcome.