2018-05-23

Multi-messenger astrophysics

I spent the day at a workshop at UMD on the connections between (what I would call) data science and (what the community calls) multi-messenger astrophysics. Multi-messenger means that there is information coming not just from photons, but maybe also neutrinos, or cosmic rays, or (importantly these days) gravitational waves. The idea is for a group of people to build a white paper that makes the case for joint programs between data-intensive research and MMA research. I spent some of my capital at the meeting arguing that we should make sure we focus on the whole scientific process, that includes not just discovery of transient events but also continuous-wave sources, sub-threshold populations, and all the machinery we need for inference and modeling as well. The future of data science is putting immensely complicated physical simulations inside the inference loop (which might be an optimization process or a sampling process). I learned a lot, both about MMA and about the NSF, who proposed that we hold the meeting: They use this kind of input in making high-level funding decisions. That is, programmatic decisions. By the end of the day we had 30 pages of text. In one day!

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