aaronb <at> swift <dot> psu <dot> edu
301 Science Park Road, Suite 332 State College, PA 16803
I am an Observatory Duty Scientist for the NASA Swift Explorer mission based at Penn State, and I also write for Astrobites. Previously I worked with Wolfram building tools for quantum computing simulations. Before coming to Penn State I was an undergraduate at Reed College where I studied physics and wrote a thesis on quantum mechanics in curved space-times under the supervision of Dr. Joel Franklin. In the summer of 2015 I was supervised by Dr. Kevork Abazajian at the University of California, Irvine where we studied ways to measure the combined neutrino mass using cosmological probes of Large Scale Structure. I aspire to be a better writer, and you may occasionally find articles, blog posts, or project descriptions on this site.
In previous lives I worked as a custom frame builder, composite repair technician, mechanic, apprentice shipwright, and climbing guide.
BA in Physics, 2016
Below you will see a visualisation of the maneuvers that the Swift spacecraft performed in the course of its tiling observations in response to GW170817. This campaign was comprised of 744 individual pointings that covered 92% of the galaxy-convolved gravitational wave error region. Swift is the only spacecraft that can perform this type of fast-response tiling, and will remain so for the foreseeable future. The video shows a skymap. The large and small red circles are the sun and moon constraints on the sky, respectively.
On August 17, 2017 the first object ever detected with both gravitational waves and light was found, now known as AT 2017gfo. The initial LIGO/Virgo and Fermi GBM alerts sent astronomers all over the world dashing to their telescopes to try and localize the electromagnetic counterpart in the relatively small (compared to past events) but still quite large localization region. The counterpart was independently found in the first night of searching by several different teams, though the Swope Supernova Survey were the first to report it.
This post is about a very tricky math puzzle, and really has very little to do with aliens or presidents. This puzzle made the rounds stumping people at Reed College in 2014, and was created by my friend Steve Silverman (who seems to have an unlimited supply of unique puzzles of his own design). All credit for cleverness and ingenuity goes to him. This post was written because there were several people who did not believe that this puzzle had a real, unique, solution or else that there was some wordplay involved rather than mathematics.
The first one-and-a-half lines of Genesis go as follows: …בראשית ברא אלהים את השמים ואת הארץ. והארץ היתה תהו ובהו וחשך על־פני תהום In the Hebrew text above, the phrase ‘Tohu va-vohu’ is in bold, the 3rd and 4th words of the second sentence (right-to-left). These lines are commonly translated as: “In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth. And the Earth was Tohu va-vohu and darkness was on the face of the deep…”