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I miss you Eames chair

I miss you Eames chair

This year I made a move from my faculty position at MIT to one at UC San Diego.  While there were many wonderful and positive things I was leaving behind in the process (good friends, brilliant students, phenomenal staff and a supportive and scientifically engaging department), the one thing that my backside will miss the most is my Eames lounge chair. I purchased this design icon as a “thinking chair”, but it was a frequent hit with visitors, students and of course the other junior faculty.  Indeed, not long after I had made public my decision to head out to San Diego, I received emails like the following from my colleagues:

“If you are not taking it with you right away, can I keep your Eames Chair for “safeguarding” in my office? I promise to give it back whenever you either come back or take it with you..”

Unfortunately, this was not an item that could leave MIT, so it was clear that it had to be passed on to a deserving recipient.  But how to pick one person in a department of superstars?  Thus was born:

The Adam J. Burgasser Endowed Chair of Astrophysics

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Daniella Baradalez Gagliuffi's poster at BURS

Daniella Bardalez Gagliuffi's poster at BURS

This past weekend I attended the inaugural Boston Undergraduate Research Symposium hosted by the Harvard College Undergraduate Research Association.  An interdisciplinary conference, undergraduates from MIT, Boston College, Boston University, Harvard, Northeastern, UMass, WPI, Emmanuel & Olin were there presenting their research on a wide variety of topics, from Astrophysics to Sociology. It was heavily science-oriented, but included non-science topics as well (including a interesting comparison of the author of Peter Pan to Nietzsche by Heidi Hirschl of Harvard).  The conference was dominated by poster presentations – I guesstimate there were roughly 100 posters, including one from my own UROP student, Daniella Baradalez Gagliuffi.  Eight very excellent undergraduates talks were given during the course of the day, including three from MIT students.  I was particularly impressed with how well these talks were given, absolutely clear and professional.  There were also three “keynote” faculty speakers, Robert Langer from MIT (who runs a humungous lab), Daniel Schrag from Harvard University and Bruce Walker from Harvard Medical.

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tempSome of my 8.012 Physics I (Classical Mechanics) lectures are now avaiable at MIT TechTV in the 8.012 collection (http://techtv.mit.edu/collections/8012).  I shot these with a tripod and fixed camera from the back of the room, so the sound and video resolution is not great, and there appear to be some weird pauses in a few of the videos (lame “update” to iMovie), but nonetheless you might get something out of them (I sure hope my students did!).

Not-So-Bright BulbsNASA has just posted a press release on one of my recent results involving the very cold brown dwarf 2MASS J0939-2448. Based on observations from the Spitzer Space Telescope and ground-based astrometry, we find this source to be one of the coldest brown dwarfs known (600+/-35 K) and, because of its overluminosity, an (as-yet) unresolved double. The paper appears in today’s edition of Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Links:

NASA Press release: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2008-232

Original paper in Astrophysical Journal Letters: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/595747

PDF version of result: http://web.mit.edu/~ajb/www/papers/2008ApJ_689_L53.pdf

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