#AAS227, day 4; AAS Hack Day

Today was the fourth annual AAS Hack Day (#hackaas) at #AAS227, organized by Kelle Cruz (CUNY), Meg Schwamb (Taiwan), and myself, and sponsored by the LSST Corporation and Northrop Grumman. We had a huge crowd: About fifty people and the staff had to bring in extra tables, chairs, and power strips. The hacks varied enormously in scope and category; here are just a few that stood out:

AAS meeting conflicts
Adrian Price-Whelan (and a bit Scott Idem and me) used some vector-of-words methods from previous AAS Hack Days to look at schedule issues in the AAS 227 program. He found pairs of oral sessions that were scheduled in conflict that contain talks with abstracts that are close in word space. The idea was to predict which sessions led to the largest number of complaints to the AAS about scheduling, and also provide prototypes of tools that might be used to make scheduling better in the future.
gender and questions in AAS oral sessions
Mehmet Alpaslan and a team including Hack-Day veteran Jim Davenport looked at new data on oral session question-askers and speakers and chairs, finding (as we learned at earlier meetings) that men ask more questions than women, but also finding that the gender of the speaker seems to be correlated with the gender of the question-asker. The data are barely understood at present, being only days old.
crowd-sourcing the old literature reference graph
In some twitter activity prior to the meeting, we discovered that old papers have poor citation and reference information, because the references were often in footnotes, formatted inconsistently, and OCR-ed badly. Brooke Simmons taught the AAS Hack Day participants how to build prototype Zooniverse projects for crowd-sourcing, and Brendan Wells used that knowledge to build a project to solve this old-reference problem. Love that collaboration, which was un-imagined prior to the Hack Day!
glassdome: glassdoor for astronomy
Ellie Schwab and friends started to build a site where people of all different ranks and seniorities could openly or anonymously review their home institutions, and comment on salary and other often-private things. Originally the project started as anonymous, but evolved to more encouraging of open and transparent reviewing as the day went on.
finding asteroids with Kepler
Geert Barentsen arrived with the retrospectively obvious point that the Kepler satellite is awesome for finding asteroids: It spends (in its K2 mode) half of its time looking inside the Earth's orbit, so it is great for finding Earth-crossing and inner asteroids. It also has great cadence and sensitivity. He assembled a great team and started to look. Science! Also on the science with Kepler tip, Jennifer Cash and Lucianne Walkowicz started work extracting photometry from full-field images.
death to Jet
Timothy Pickering propagated the new matplotlib non-Jet colormaps to plotly.js. This is God's work, as it permits web-plotting gurus to benefit from the latest research in visual perception of continuous data. In case you haven't been paying attention, Hack Days are a great time for people to bond over their hatred of the Jet colormap, but Pickering also reminded us of the research that shows that it leads to misconceptions about the data, fails in black-and-white printing, and is bad for people with vision impairments.
exoplanetary systems in WWT
David Weigel, after reminding us that World-Wide Telescope has gone open source and is now a project of the AAS, showed us how he put a known exoplanet system into the software. The plan is to get them all in there and then make possible tours and activities around exoplanet discovery and science.
fabric poster upcycling
Ashley Pagnotta and company brought a sewing machine to #hackaas. It turns out that it makes sense these days to print your poster on fabric not paper! This is because fabric printing is now very cheap, and you can pack a fabric poster trivially in your luggage. Check it out. But Pagnotta and colleagues brought patterns and skills and turned posters into infotaining clothing. Insane.
More (crowd-sourced but incomplete) notes are available here. Thanks to our sponsors and everyone who came, and see you next year!

1 comment:

  1. For completeness, this was the twitter conversation on the old-reference-problem: https://twitter.com/davidwhogg/status/676862499740749824