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May 13th, 2006

Bertinoro, AGN and galaxy

Hey all! This is Stefano, one of the Systemic team members. I’m an MSc astrophysics student at the University of Bologna, Italy, and will be transferring to the beautiful city of Santa Cruz next year to start working on PhD.

I just came back this evening (18 pm on the West coast) from the National School of Astronomy, Bertinoro, where I’ve been sent to last week. It takes place in an old little city, surrounded by walls and dominated by a castle. The castle has bedrooms and seminar rooms with frescoes and red carpets. I was sleeping IN the castle, when I woke up I could see the green planes of the pianura padana extending for acres and acres, and little rocky houses of farmers. The city is famous for its wine. Galla Placidia, daughter of the Roman emperor Theodosius, drinking a glass of the sweet white wine albana purportedly said to the wine “sei degna di berti in oro” (you deserve to be drank in a golden glass), from which the name of the city “Bertinoro” comes. The city itself is full of little places to drink wine (the amazing Sangiovese) and other kinds of alcoholic beverages, which of course we visited often, more than once a night! Whoever thinks scientists are grey, sad people should have come to one of these crazy nights.
That said, it was my first astrophysics school, and I felt so young and unexperienced! Everyone was working on their PhD, and was brilliant, accomplished, and just plain cool — at least to my eyes. I was feeling really out of place in the midst of these amazing minds talking about galaxies and AGNs citing models and theory with apparent ease.

Thankfully I soon realized that these scientifical “hierarchies” don’t really stop you to have your say and give your, even small, contribution! And anyone, from a last-year student like me to the famous astrophysicist, is collaborating in an amazing community to help develop our knowledge of where we are and what’s been before us.
The astronomer Edwin Hubble
All this to introduce the systemic Backend. The systemic Backend lets you have your say in the field of extrasolar planets!

Thanks to the systemic console, you can fit radial velocity data taken by real astronomers and as easily as possible try to discover the evidence of unseen planets around distant stars. And it doesn’t matter if you’re an astronomer, an high school student or an astrophile out of budget for a telescope: if your findings are consistent with the data and explains the observations better than before, you’ve done it!

The systemic backend lets you share your results with other enthusiastic people, showcase your results and interact with your fellow colleagues, just as you would do on a myspace-like network. You can upload the fits saved from the console online from your account, and have other people enthusiastically comment or bash your findings. You might be doing real astrophysics, while knowing other people.

Try out the beta version of the system now, help us iron the bugs and the improvements to make!

The systemic console and backend will be part of a bigger picture — Greg will be talking about it in a future post.

More soon,
Ste

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