Wednesday, May 26, 2010


...mostly. But I'm feeling great about today. And, I would have never imagined saying that only a few hours ago.

So, my morning was not-so-fun. Mostly struggling with this foreign language of IDL. My goal was to read the Kalirai data table in to IDL, and so I spent most of the morning aligning columns and then failing to understand what I was supposed to do next. By lunch, I was pretty frustrated, and wondering why I'd chosen to go into an academic field that required so much computer knowledge that I didn't know, and didn't really want to know.

But, thanks to Mimi, who told me to relax over lunch and sit in the sun, so I could return with a clear head and a relaxed mindset, I was able to tackle IDL this afternoon. I have now successfully read in the data table (!!) with the readfmt command passed on to me by Beth.

I also started calculating the average surface brightness at the half-light radius in IDL. Something's still a little off there, though. The final result I get is not quite what I get when I work it out by hand. I'll look at this again tomorrow...

The moral of today's story is a motivational one. I am capable of figuring this stuff out, (given some patience and time). And, when I do accomplish something that seems impossible, it feels pretty good.

(Too many feelings for a science blog? Not sure... Still new at this.)

Monday, May 24, 2010

My First Day!

5:18 pm, and my first day of research is over. Look out, stealth galaxies! We might just find you...

Today I worked on filling in some gaps on a table created by Kalirai et al. 2010 that lists the properties of known dwarf galaxies in the local group. Hopefully this is the first step to creating a complete "Census of Dwarfs," as called for by our very own Beth Willman in her 2009 paper.

Also, hopefully, my rusty computer skills will get polished up and be riding as good as new by the end of the week. All of those Unix commands are coming back slowly but surely...

(As a side note: This is the first blog I've ever made. A little nerve-wracking, but it's all for science, so I can play along.)