AAAC, day 1

Today was the first day of the Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee meeting. The AAAC oversees the points of mutual interest and overlap between NSF, NASA, and DOE. For me the highlight of the meeting was consideration of the National Academy of Sciences “OIR Report”. It explicitly calls out the community and the funding agencies to make sure we are properly preparing students to work in data analysis, observing, and instrumentation.

These things were all standard in the astronomy of past ages. Then, instrumentation became more professionalized as instruments got more complicated (and more expensive), and fewer students built instruments. Then observing started to become professionalized with big surveys like SDSS and the like. And data analysis is headed the same way, as our precision goals get more challenging and our data sets get larger. What to do about all this is unclear. However it is abundantly clear that if we start to lose track of where our data come from or what has happened to them in processing, we are doomed.

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