Dynamic Bayesian Combination of Multiple Imperfect Classifiers

Using the new Voxcharta.org system, I was the only physicist at my institute to upvote this paper, Dynamic Bayesian Combination of Multiple Imperfect Classifiers (pdf), more in the realm of machine learning or computer science than traditional astrophysics or astronomy. As such I was nominated to discuss it at our weekly journal club. Here I give a brief review of concepts needed to follow the paper, and then go in depth into how we can use the opinions of multiple lay people as to whether an object is a supernova or not to achieve a highly accurate classification at the expert level. Read More …

NASA Space Apps Challenge

Directly after coming back from Doha to Zürich, I got a quick 6hrs of sleep and took the train to Lausanne where I was a co-organizer of the NASA Space Apps Challenge sponsored by the Swiss Space Center, among others. We had over 30 people at the event, and 3 distinguished guest speakers and judges (including Dr. Prasenjit Saha from my institute, on crowd sourcing gravitational lensing measurements), and an action packed weekend. Read More …

The Elusive Higgs

The two CERN collaborations, ATLAS and CMS, are trying to independently find the Higgs and confirm each other’s results. Each excludes a standard-model Higgs above 135GeV at above 95% confidence (to about 450 GeV if I recall) and ATLAS finds an excess around 126 GeV consistent with a Higgs at this mass. CMS finds a very slight excess, slightly displaced from (around 124 GeV) though roughly consistent with the ATLAS result. It’s not a detection yet (ATLAS would need more statistical significance on their excess), but it’s tantalizing. They’ll continue running and analyzing data next year, and hopefully we’ll know for sure! Read More …

TEDxZurich 2011: Ideas worth spreading from Zurich

I am proud to have been on the organizing team of TEDxZurich 2011. With the help of great sponsors, including the Swiss National Television Network, at which the event was held, amazing speakers and performers, and a full house of 450 attendees, we celebrated and shared “ideas worth spreading”. I was on the speakers committee, moonlighted with a bit of tech help, and the day of was rushing around making sure all the speakers were happy and prepared for their big moment on stage. Here are the videos; it’s extremely hard to pick a favorite, but the speaker I am most proud of and moved by is Dr. Eleanor Dobson who gives us a peek into the belly of CERN and how modern big science is done. Dr. Dobson’s talk was one of the talks I helped curate, in conjunction with the TEDxZurich team, and came about after I heard her passion on the subject and suggested she speak. Don’t stop there though, there are 20 videos from the day and hundreds of ideas ready to run loose. Read More …

Human vs. Vacuum

While Neil Stephenson laments that we have lost our space faring capabilities and sees it as a harbinger of societal decay as a whole, I am getting waves of future shock just from SpaceX’s vaporware. So I’m more optimistic; the basic conflict human vs. vacuum may yet be won as private companies rightly take interest in the final frontier. Also if the powers that be are listening: sign me up for the first trip to Mars. Read More …

Kliq movie is live

I’m amazingly lucky to have only hobbies, even though I work constantly. The Kliq movie is live! I am extremely proud of the work myself, and my cofounder Michael Craig have done thus far and where we are taking it next, making it easier than ever to interact with people, friends, acquaintances, and potential new best friends, business partners, etc. at events you are already RSVPing to. Read More …