We’re working hard to keep the systemic project moving forward.
Eugenio, as of July 14th, has compiled and documented all of the published radial velocity data sets, and has been designing and developing the “KeckTAC” code, which will be a workhorse for systemic’s next phase. The published datasets are all available on the systemic systems catalog. Aaron has stripped the console down to its component parts, and he’s rebuilding it with new features, faster algorithms and a sleekly expandable architecture. Stefano has been tweaking the systemic backend [sign up and get fittin', y'all -ed.], and will be arriving at UCSC in the Fall to do his Ph.D. research. We’re hoping that part of his thesis will be a statistical analysis of the final results of the 100,000 star systemic simulation.
When I was in graduate school, I spent a lot of time doing research on brown dwarfs (objects between 13 and 75 Jupiter masses that lie in the mass range between giant planets and red dwarf stars). At that time, circa 1992, no bona-fide brown dwarfs had actually been found, but the prospects for detecting them seemed reasonably good. My friend Todd Henry, who was a graduate student at the University of Arizona, and who was hunting for brown dwarfs using the speckle method, told me something that stuck in my mind.
“Face it, Greg,” he said, “the reason you’re interested in brown dwarfs is not because you’re interested in Brown Dwarfs — the reason you’re interested in brown dwarfs is because you’re really interested in planets, and brown dwarfs are just one stop away on the line.”
He was right.
A similar logic might apply today, “The reason I’m interested in giant planets is not because I’m really interested in Giant Planets — the reason I’m interested in giant planets is because I’m really interested in habitable terrestrial planets, and giant planets are one stop away on the line.”