Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I'm an IDL Graphing MACHINE!!!

...or something like that.

Over the past few days, I've been learning how to make detailed, attractive graphs of the huge dwarf data table we're working with. I now know how to make graphs in color, have error bars on data points, and even label the data points accordingly. I made a really nice graph today of Distance versus Surface Brightness for all of the known Milky Way dwarf companions. (I wish I could post it here! I'm extremely proud of it.) I spent a lot of time labeling each dwarf, so the graph was readable (dare I say, beautiful?!)

Also, graphing allowed me to catch a pretty important mistake, today. While plotting Size versus Mv, I noticed some of the Magnitudes were positive, when they were all supposed to be negative. After close inspection, I realized that the way I read the data table into IDL was incorrect. Every once in a while, it would cut off a character from the beginning of the string in a column. I then reformatted, and double checked that every data point was correct. It was necessary, but caused some frustration and eye-crossing. Glad it's fixed now...

Next up: Making that Size vs. Mv graph more sophisticated, with lines of constant surface brightness over-plotted onto the data. Don't know how I'm going to tackle that yet, but I will, possibly (probably) with the help of others in the lab.

Also, as per Beth's wishes, I'm going to post here more. I haven't felt like I've done anything huge or note-worthy lately, so I haven't posted. But I guess that's nonsense. If I'm in lab for eight hours a day, I must be doing enough stuff to write about. I think I've only liked posting in moments of success or excitement so far. So, New Goal: write even when feeling stuck or uninspired. Then, later, when I've worked through it, I'll be able to visibly see my progress.

As an inspirational closing note, I was sent this link last week, and have been looking at it whenever I need a pick-me-up. Enjoy:


1 comment:

  1. i) You can post figures on the blog! Its encouraged, in fact. You just need (I think) to convert them to .pdf or .jpg. If you figure out what format you need, I'll teach you how to do it.

    ii) Its good to write at just a random time, even when you feel like nothing has been done. It can help push you forward.