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15-Year-Old Student Discovers New Pulsar

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 4 years ago | from the sky-isn't-the-limit dept.

Space 103

For the second time in as many years, a student has made a discovery while participating in the Pulsar Search Collaboratory (PSC), a joint program between the National Radio Astronomy Observatory and West Virginia University designed to get students and teachers involved in analyzing data from the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT). This time it was high school sophomore Shay Bloxton, who discovered a brand new pulsar. "For Bloxton, the pulsar discovery may be only her first in a scientific career. 'Participating in the PSC has definitely encouraged me to pursue my dream of being an astrophysicist,' she said, adding that she hopes to attend West Virginia University to study astrophysics. Late last year, another West Virginia student, from South Harrison High School, Lucas Bolyard, discovered a pulsar-like object called a rotating radio transient. His discovery also came through participation in the PSC."

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103 comments

Slashdotter? (4, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#30863876)

There's someone here whose sig is "I live in my mother's basement, but I'm only fifteen". I wonder if it's the same fifteen year old? At any rate, hooray for today's youth!

Re:Slashdotter? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30864006)

There's someone here whose sig is "I live in my mother's basement, but I'm only fifteen". I wonder if it's the same fifteen year old? At any rate, hooray for today's youth!

From his posts [slashdot.org] I don't really think he is 15.

Re:Slashdotter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30864064)

You're right, 13

Re:Slashdotter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30864136)

He actually _is_ 15.

Re:Slashdotter? (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 4 years ago | (#30864340)

... Also, from the use of the pronouns, I don't really think he's her.

Re:Slashdotter? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30864200)

It seems odd that they would mention this person's age. It shouldn't matter, nor should the person's "race" or gender matter.

Re:Slashdotter? (1)

qubezz (520511) | more than 4 years ago | (#30868490)

I think since the director, Dr Rachel Rosen, is a 31 year old cutie too (linky [google.com] ) there might be some gender self-promotion involved. Another student already discovered the first one... [nrao.edu] , unfortunately a white male.

Oh, and if you want to see what career path will get you a job searching for pulsars, here's her application for the job (pdf) [nrao.edu] . Personal details not omitted.

Re:Slashdotter? (1)

uberjack (1311219) | more than 4 years ago | (#30864208)

I can't believe what a sad bunch of nerds we are, knowing each others' sigs. *sigh*

Re:Slashdotter? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30864284)

I wish I could go back and tell my 15-year-old self not to study astrophysics. After four years of undergrad, me and about 98% of my graduating class realized that our job prospects were virtually nil. I went back for another two years to get my Masters degree, and finally another eight years for my PhD. By this time, I was fat and even less suited for the real world than I was after finishing my undergrad. There weren't any research or tenure-track positions available at the time, but a friend allowed me to work as a cameraman at his pornography production business. Three weeks into the job, one of the male stars blew his load onto my face while I was filming a close-up. I quit, and have since lived in my mother's basement, unemployed. I run errands for her, and she gives me spending cash. I'm 37 and with a PhD, but I live with my mother and I'm treated like I'm still 15.

Re:Slashdotter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30864616)

Calling bullshit on this one. www.usajobs.gov, search for science positions, plenty of jobs requiring Physics/Atrophysics PhD's come up... Why don't you apply for those?

Re:Slashdotter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30864650)

And he's even got experience of working with the stars!

Babum bum. I'll be here all week.

Re:Slashdotter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30866278)

I looked through the positions. There are under five positions that require a PhD in Astrophysics. The catch is that they require the applicant to be a permanent citizen and underground a background check. From the research journals I have seen, just about all the PhD graduates are from India/China.

Now why could that be? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30868336)

Maybe because the rest of us realized either an MBA or no degree and the right schmoozing skills pays off better.

And plus who doesn't enjoy bossing around Ph.D's who think they're all that while exploiting them to make twice or more their paycheck yourself? :D

America America exploiters of the free! America America why don't you drink our peeeeee!

Re:Slashdotter? (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866384)

I know that this is likely to be meant funny, but for anyone out there with a real life similar to this:

Have you ever considered to stop coming from the needy beggar angle? And to instead think of it in this way:

1. Consider yourself valuable! Find your values! List all that you have to offer.
2. Find anyone who could possibly want or need this, and has anything that you need. (And probably does not know yet, that he wants it.)
3. Go out there, and sell yourself. From a point of “I’m offering YOU something very special. Something you wish you had. But it’s not for free!”. You know: “Sell a dream!”
4. PROFIT!

Only if you draw others in your reality, that you should be given money, will you ever get money.
What exactly you get it for, is not that important. As long as you like it.

It’s you who decided to allow others to treat you like a 15 year old. It’s your own fault. Create your own rules, draw a line, and don’t allow anyone to step over it. That’s the basis of getting respected.

Re:Slashdotter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30867260)

I know that this is likely to be meant funny...

Should have stuck with your first instinct.

Re:Slashdotter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30868148)

http://www.futuremorph.org/scienceandmaths/#/intro
This is what persuades young student to persue useless jobs which means they will end up unemployed in the future.

Re:Slashdotter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30868108)

I wish I could go back and tell my 15-year-old self not to study astrophysics. After four years of undergrad, me and about 98% of my graduating class realized that our job prospects were virtually nil. I went back for another two years to get my Masters degree, and finally another eight years for my PhD. By this time, I was fat and even less suited for the real world than I was after finishing my undergrad. There weren't any research or tenure-track positions available at the time, but a friend allowed me to work as a cameraman at his pornography production business. Three weeks into the job, one of the male stars blew his load onto my face while I was filming a close-up. I quit, and have since lived in my mother's basement, unemployed. I run errands for her, and she gives me spending cash. I'm 37 and with a PhD, but I live with my mother and I'm treated like I'm still 15.

I dont want to be offensive, but I laugh at my freinds who want to become "marine biologists" or other similar jobs which sound 'fun', are infact useless.

I always wonder what people are thinkinking when they make life decisions like that.
Some of my freinds are taking subjects such as art, social studies and 'football' or soccer in college (high school).
I really dont see the career opportunities of such jobs.

I am so happy I have capitalistic parents who taught me, from a early age that money was very, very important. =)

Oh and I reccently turned 16, maybe the dermographic of slashdot is changing to a earlier age?

I am curious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30864870)

What is the job market like for astrophysicists?

Re:Slashdotter? (1)

slimjim8094 (941042) | more than 4 years ago | (#30864970)

I joined Slashdot at 14. But I didn't brag about it - until now, I guess. I'm 18 at the moment, and my UID is relatively low compared to all these newcomers nowadays.

Re:Slashdotter? (1)

Bengie (1121981) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865316)

I remember waiting for Slashdot to load on my 28.8k USR serial modem

Re:Slashdotter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30866112)

I remember thinking about creating a ./ on my abacus.

Re:Slashdotter? (1)

jnana (519059) | more than 4 years ago | (#30868282)

28.8K MODEM! Waiting to load on a 28.8K MODEM, you say! Bloody hell, you had it easy. We would have loved to have the luxury of waiting, or even having a real modem.

When I was a kid, we had to get up at 1 o clock in the morning, run 7 miles into town and back for no reason at all, and then get down on all fours and push a big wheel around like donkeys all day in order to generate electricity to do our 'web surfing' in the evening. When I say 'web surfing', of course, I mean that our 1 bit per day telegraph receiver would deliver a single bit, yes or no, and if it was yes, our dad would whip us with a cat o' nine tails until we went unconscious, and if it was no, we would get no gruel for the day and have to work in the fields overnight instead of sleeping.

With apologies to to those who really had it hard [youtube.com] ...

wow now do somthing useful for the world (1)

CHRONOSS2008 (1226498) | more than 4 years ago | (#30864974)

i have almost as much respect ofr astronomers as actors
and i have 0 for actors

Re:wow now do somthing useful for the world (4, Funny)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865118)

i have almost as much respect ofr astronomers as actors

Right. If the Good Lord wanted us to see the stars he wouldn't have made them so fucking far away.

Re:wow now do somthing useful for the world (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30867254)

i have almost as much respect ofr astronomers as actors and i have 0 for actors

And oddly enough, they both seem to share the same political opinions...

Re:Slashdotter? (2, Insightful)

nilbog (732352) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865138)

Maybe not the same 15 year old, but I bet they're related - both being 15 and all.

Re:Slashdotter? (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865704)

Nobody's going to be doing any significant astronomy from their mother's basement. A real Slashdotter would rarely go outside.

Re:Slashdotter? (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866062)

RTFA. This is radio astronomy. No outdoors activity needed.

Re:Slashdotter? (1)

XPeter (1429763) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866128)

There's no relation, though I do wish she was my girlfriend

Re:Slashdotter? (1)

SteveFoerster (136027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866656)

There's no relation, though I do wish she was my girlfriend

How unfortunate for you then that she's from West Virginia....

BBT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30863880)

I think Big Bang Theory just got another cast member .../knock knock ... Shay /knock knock ... Shay /knock knock ... Shay

Female... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30863902)

15 year old female discovers new pulsar. This will get bad in the discussions.

Re:Female... (1)

superdana (1211758) | more than 4 years ago | (#30864038)

Don't go there.

Re:Female... (2, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30864056)

Whats not to like? She is smart and she could be good looking one day...

Re:Female... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30864148)

could be? I'd say she already is.

Re:Female... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30864458)

could be? I'd say she already is.

No, legally girls are not good looking until the age of 18.

Re:Female... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30864554)

She is legally hot i Sweden(+some other countries)!

Re:Female... (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865176)

She is legally hot i Sweden(+some other countries)!

And the rural Southern United States.

Re:Female... (-1, Troll)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30864162)

She's both already. Don't want her to go into the so called "good looking" territory, there's a strong correlation between that and not being smart (and ugly without supporting tricks, for that matter).

Re:Female... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30865874)

She's good-looking now (that's how puberty works), but apparently it's bad form to say so until she is eighteen.

Re:Female... (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#30864172)

I don't get it.

Re:Female... (1)

melikamp (631205) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865008)

I don't get it.

hot damn (-1, Troll)

bmecoli (963615) | more than 4 years ago | (#30864114)

She's quite the cutie. I wonder if she'll be available in three years? ;D

Re:hot damn (1)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 4 years ago | (#30864236)

you should really consider removing this picture from your website.

http://www.funnyforumpics.com/forums/ASL/1/ASL-Creepy_Guy.jpg [funnyforumpics.com]

Re:hot damn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30864406)

Good lord. Humping yourself over a 15 year old girl? Man, you guys *really* need to get out of the basement.

Re:hot damn (4, Informative)

Foobar of Borg (690622) | more than 4 years ago | (#30864556)

She's quite the cutie. I wonder if she'll be available in three years? ;D

She's in West Virginia. The age of consent there is 16, so you only need to wait a few months. Not that she'll have a pathetic dweeb like you, though.

Re:hot damn (2, Funny)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865192)

She's in West Virginia. The age of consent there is 16

Unless you're a member of the clergy, in which case you get a special dispenser or something.

Re:hot damn (4, Funny)

Foobar of Borg (690622) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865612)

Unless you're a member of the clergy, in which case you get a special dispenser or something.

I think you mean "Dispensation" unless you are talking about some kind of creepy Pez-like dispenser they are issued.

Re:hot damn (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866512)

That's how they handle the Eucharist in really big churches nowadays. They have a wine bong and a giant Pez-like dispenser that has a Jesus head and chucks out wafers.

Oh man, I would so buy one of those.

Re:hot damn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30866540)

She's in West Virginia. The age of consent there is 16, so you only need to wait a few months. Not that she'll have a pathetic dweeb like you, though.

Unless you're related, then it's 12.

Re:hot damn (1)

glitch23 (557124) | more than 4 years ago | (#30867336)

The age of consent is 16 however there can't be a difference of more than 4 years either at that age. So if you are 21 and she turns 16 you have to wait. I don't know the complete details though. I'd presume that at 18 the age difference doesn't matter. The key point is that at 16 there are stipulations in WV law that you better be aware of.

Two Birds with One Stone (4, Insightful)

PSandusky (740962) | more than 4 years ago | (#30864118)

I keep thinking that looking for pulsars could've just as easily been something that someone with a hankering for SETI@home's animus could've farmed out to a grid. What's so beautiful about this is that the PSC gets work done for astrophysics at the same time that it adds something to science education. (Too bad more schools couldn't have access to these kinds of things. It may be educational natural selection, but it's still a downer.)

In other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30864156)

A Woman Discovers New Pulsar

Looking at the photo. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30864206)

You know, if she got some glasses that were a little more stylish, did something with her hair, ... she's got a lot going for her!

Now, before being accused of being a sexist pig, I'd point out that well, I am BUT there's nothing wrong in pointing out attractive women scientists to girls - such as Lisa Randall of Harvard.

I think many girls have this opinion that science isn't a "feminine" thing - at least that's an opinion of a female classmate had back in my undergrad physics days.

I think to encourage girls into science it should be pointed out that you can be a babe and be a scientist. Should we have to do that? Well, in an ideal World that short answer is 'no' but in a World were vapidness and looks dominate, I think it's a necessary evil.

Re:Looking at the photo. (1)

ozbird (127571) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865048)

Dunno about being a sexist pig; shallow, perhaps. If people don't appreciate "geek chic", more fool them.

Re:Looking at the photo. (1)

Urkki (668283) | more than 4 years ago | (#30872272)

Dunno about being a sexist pig; shallow, perhaps. If people don't appreciate "geek chic", more fool them.

It's not about intellectual appreciation, it's about what gets the "little guy" exited... And since that's pretty much outside conscious control, it's a bit unfair to call it "foolish".

Re:Looking at the photo. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30865056)

there's nothing wrong in pointing out attractive women scientists to girls... it should be pointed out that you can be a babe and be a scientist.

In that case

Re:Looking at the photo. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30865124)

And most slashdotters could probably be pretty fit if the wanted too, priorities you know...

Re:Looking at the photo. (1)

melikamp (631205) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865194)

Guys are not that attracted by science either: the ideal of manliness is found in a college gym locker room. So I think many guys have this opinion that science isn't a "masculine" thing - at least that's an opinion my male classmates had back in my undergrad psychology days. What we really need is some hot and rugged scientist studs. Is there anyone out there who can be possibly attracted by these guys [wikipedia.org] ? Or this crazy dude [wikipedia.org] ? I think to encourage boys into science it should be pointed out that you can be a stud and a scientist. And may be, just may be, you won't realistically ever get a Fields Medal while looking like this [wikimedia.org] , but in the REAL world, where looks dominate, it may pay to invest into that penis you saw on the Internet.

What the hell? Kurt Gödel, MOFO? (1)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 4 years ago | (#30871436)

crazy dude [wikipedia.org]

I could've sworn the caption said "Kurt Gödel, MOFO". He's a bad-ass mathematical mother fucker, than Kurt guy, as he comes and gives your neatly thought out proof system a roundhouse kick, square in its axiomatic nuts!

Maybe I'm misreading things.

Re:Looking at the photo. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30865330)

I happen to prefer the look she has now.

Re:Looking at the photo. (1)

DreadPiratePizz (803402) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865518)

I'm not a scientist, but I was at CERN shooting video in April 2008. What surprised me was that a good third of the scientists I did encounter were female, and most of them weren't bad looking either!

Re:Looking at the photo. (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866040)

She looks just fine as she is to me. But not too fine, given that intimacy with her is a felony.

Re:Looking at the photo. (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866664)

I think many girls have this opinion that science isn't a "feminine" thing

It's absolutely true, though the hearts and kitty doodles my girlfriend puts in her physics and biology note margins say otherwise.

But really, it's not just about being "feminine" in some kind of societal-oppressive Barbie-says-math-is-hard way. It's that a lot of people who are interested in science really wonder if they have to lose all fashion and social sense and be a 'dork' to do science.

I once saw a PBS documentary, Nova I think, that directly addressed this. The host said that Doctor Girl-name So-and-So was a well respected scientist who was (rough quote) "living proof that you didn't have to choose between doing science, and being cool!"

Then Doctor So-and-So appeared, and not only was she wearing a white lab coat over an extremely unflattering button down shirt and wearing thick glasses with ridiculous frames... The very first thing she said after being introduced as proof you could be a cool scientist was an obscure Star Wars reference.

LOL. I mean at least it wasn't Star Trek, but seriously... she was a huge nerd, and it was obvious.

Re:Looking at the photo. (1)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 4 years ago | (#30871474)

I mean at least it wasn't Star Trek, but seriously...

That's what I told the Football team captain, and then he gave me a wedgie :(

Re:Looking at the photo. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30867964)

What the hell are you talking about?!? She's very cute, and I would readily risk my life for being able to have a date with her!

Re:Looking at the photo. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30868692)

Actually, as a scientist and a babe, I find the fact that a comment thread on a female scientist must needs include at least a dude or two discussing her appearance a pain in the ass and demeaning. It's about the science.

i was going to reference johnny test's sisters (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#30871224)

susan and mary

but then a GIS unwittingly exposed me to rule 34

(shudder)

Re:Looking at the photo. (1)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 4 years ago | (#30871502)

You know, if she got some glasses that were a little more stylish, did something with her hair

Maybe it's just me, but I say she's a cutie even with her current hair and glasses.

(insert obligatory about her being a minor and my not being a minor and my not feeling that way about her)

Re:Looking at the photo. (2, Interesting)

CeilingofStars (1728228) | more than 4 years ago | (#30872240)

You say you're a sexist pig, but do you understand WHY comments like this are not okay?

#1. She is a child. I shouldn't even have to say that.
#2. How somebody looks has nothing to do with their intelligence or capability. It's incredible that you say there's "nothing wrong in pointing out attractive women scientists to girls" when, in fact, there is everything wrong with it. 'Attractive' is almost exclusively a measure of how much effort a woman puts into modifying her physical appearance in order to make herself sexually inviting to men. I don't have a problem with this; what I have a problem with is men telling women (and girls!) that they have a responsibility to be attractive in order to be acceptable.
#3. Women shy away from male-dominated fields such as science, technology, and video games because men don't know how to act normally about them. If you read an article about a 15-year-old boy with glasses and plain hair, you would never make a comment that "he has so much going for him, if only he'd ditch the glasses and do something with his hair... ." If someone felt that the appropriate response to my scientific discovery was a comment about my physical attractiveness, I might just give up my scientific endeavors entirely, especially if I was a young teenager dealing with all the insecurity that comes along with that.

Something to think about.

Also, please stop acting like a sexist pig. Thank you.

lots of public domain data out on net (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 4 years ago | (#30864240)

I recall some non-professionals successfully using google maps to find meteor craters.
Others have found new recent water erosion features on Mars.
Soon some of the large mapping telescopes will be releasing vast amounts of astronomical images in Google Sky.
Theres lots of opportunity for amateurs here.

Pulsar (1)

Hydroksyde (910948) | more than 4 years ago | (#30864258)

...And added tints, lowered suspension, and fart can exhaust

Re:Pulsar (2, Informative)

fhuglegads (1334505) | more than 4 years ago | (#30864608)

Old School Nissan reference.. Very nice.

I don't think this girl was born when those were on the road.

Re:Pulsar (1)

Hydroksyde (910948) | more than 4 years ago | (#30864748)

They're still around here (in New Zealand)... Often in a configuration very similar to the above

How hard is that? (2, Informative)

timeOday (582209) | more than 4 years ago | (#30864360)

This is not a knock on the student in question, since I'm much older than that and never discovered a pulsar.

But.

My impression, which may be very wrong, is that space is so huge, you can point a decent telescope in any direction and discover something, albeit only to a level of detail at which it is indistinguishable from a million other somethings. Thus the quest of astrophysics is not just to discover a new thing, but something new and novel.

(I have often wondered what the earth would look like if we could see every footprint ever planted by mankind. How many "first tracks" I have made?)

Re:How hard is that? (5, Informative)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#30864518)

You're right to some degree. Problem is that we don't have telescopes on Earth that can just point out to the sky and see all the amazing things that Hubble can. The light pollution is too high. So we are really cut back on how much of space we can actually see here.

Now, she didn't "just point" in the sky, in fact, she had nothing to do with the pointing at all. She took the Data and Analyzed it. She worked it out to be a Pulsar.

Pulsars are very rare. So they waited till the telescope came around to the right point again (a month later) and re-read the data, and re-analyzed it with professionals. She was correct.

Re:How hard is that? (1)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865230)

Problem is that we don't have telescopes on Earth that can just point out to the sky and see all the amazing things that Hubble can. The light pollution is too high.

Light pollution is easy - go somewhere else. But it's a LOT harder to get ride of the opaque atmosphere ...

Re:How hard is that? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30867370)

Light pollution is easy - go somewhere else. But it's a LOT harder to get ride of the opaque atmosphere ...

You look for pulsars with radio telescopes, not optical telescopes. Light pollution is irrelevant. Radio pollution (electronics, cell phones, etc) is a big deal, though. And the atmosphere can be a bit of a problem, but usually not at the low frequencies used for pulsar searches.

Re:How hard is that? (1)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 4 years ago | (#30867850)

And the Hubble isn't used as a radio telescope ... read the portion I quoted.

It doesn't count (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30864374)

if he found it with his bare hands

HS is when it starts (4, Interesting)

ghostlibrary (450718) | more than 4 years ago | (#30864378)

I interviewed 4 random astronomers at an AAS meeting to ask 'why did you become an astronomer', and the answer was either "saw cool space stuff as a kid and was inspired" or "got to learn a bit of astronomy in high school and loved it". So she's right at the age for deciding. Unlike most majors, I think most astronomers choose their path early. (In February the podcast will be up at "365 Days of Astronomy", btw).

Sandy
http://projectcalliope.com/ [projectcalliope.com] "Music from Space"

Re:HS is when it starts (1)

FreakyGreenLeaky (1536953) | more than 4 years ago | (#30867992)

I found your comments interesting, and telling.

I have a couple of nephews 'n nieces who have just finished school, but have no idea what to do with the rest of their lives. This is something I had no problem with myself (stumbled upon an apple IIe in a shopping mall demo in the early eighties as a youngster -- to this day I can remember the intoxicating electronic smell of the humming machine, the somehow magical keyboard and the crude but beautiful chess game it was running).

I'm determined that my children (3y/o and 6m/o) will be exposed to as much experiences as possible so they will decide on a path early, perhaps even a lifelong passion...

Somehow I don't think life is worth living if you don't have a consuming passion to drive you.

congratulations but.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30864450)

I'm no astrophysicist, but you have to wonder if she had really done anything other than typed some standard pre-scripted commands on a computer terminal (which granted is highly technical and take years of dedicated studies to master as I understand).
i.e. a glorified computer operator?

A good thing... (4, Insightful)

tkohler (806572) | more than 4 years ago | (#30864474)

It seems like letting high schoolers have access to facilities like this is a good thing: http://www.nrao.edu/pr/2009/pulsarstudent/ [nrao.edu]

I'm totally taking her to her prom! (0, Offtopic)

fhuglegads (1334505) | more than 4 years ago | (#30864542)

Ok, who am I kidding.. I'll never have a date.

Amateur research still strong (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30864674)

Further proof that there is still valuable, real science within reach of amateurs who do not have multimillion dollar research grants. Congratulations Shay!

Re:Amateur research still strong (3, Insightful)

Mr. Freeman (933986) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865188)

No, actually, you're completely and absolutely wrong. This is going to sound trollish, but this telescope cost a fuckload of money and had absolutely nothing to do with the student. The people operating the telescope basically just give out the data to a bunch of schools. The schools then have the students punch in a few commands, the computer goes to work, and a while later the computer says "Hey, this data looks like it might not be garbage, might want to check it out". So then the professionals actually did some further analysis and found that yeah, it was a pulsar.

I hate every freaking one of these stories that claim "Young person does science usually done by people with advanced degrees!". She punched in some commands, she didn't do science. Christ. Any other 15 year old working their ass off in school to become a physicist or engineer gets no special recognition or help or any assistance doing science or research like this. But one student who just fucking happened to be in the seat when the computer came up with the result gets credit for doing something completely unremarkable.

She didn't point the telescope, she didn't actually gather any data, she didn't develop the algorythm used by the computer to actually analyze the signal. She read a fucking graph generated by someone else.
Look at this article from the same source about another kid who did the same thing: http://www.nrao.edu/pr/2009/pulsarstudent/
You can see the plots there. You look at a graph and if you see a blob you report it.

I mean, think about this for a little bit. Why on earth do people go to college and get degrees in science if it can be done by a 15 year old with exactly zero formal training in the area?

It probably sounds like I'm belittling these students' achievements. I'm really not. I'm simply pointing out what they actually did. It's the media that in their haste for a story trumps up this unremarkable junk into something amazing.

Re:Amateur research still strong (1)

qubezz (520511) | more than 4 years ago | (#30868418)

Install GIMPS on an OLPC computer before it's sent? "6 year old Ethiopian girl discovers largest prime number"

Install SETI@home on the special ed computer? "12 year down's syndrome child discovers extra-terrestrial intelligence"

Skinhead punk thinks folding@home makes a cool screensaver? "Neo-Nazi discovers cure to sickle-cell anemia"

Secretary is PWNED installing 'wallpapers' off the net? "Woman cracks DOD database in league with Chinese comrades"

It is too bad Spot the dog doesn't have a computer, but then again he does get offers saying that he may already be a winner...

Re:Amateur research still strong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30868724)

With advanced training you develop mathematical intuition,, further skills for data analysis, and the experience to direct a course of research but if the report had read "Master's student discovers pulsar" or "PhD student discovers pulsar" it wouldn't be more remarkable (in fact research like this does go on at these higher levels). It's a gradual process going from a supervisor setting the research direction and providing many of the research tools to becoming that supervisor oneself, and great that she is getting an early start and providing an example to other young kids with dreams of the stars.

Re:Amateur research still strong (1)

ErikZ (55491) | more than 4 years ago | (#30870460)

If it's such a minor thing, why don't your people with advanced degrees "read the fucking graph generated by someone else."

She's just as legit as the people who work at the observatory. I doubt any of them *built* the telescope. Maybe one or two of them wrote the software to analyze the data, or they grabbed a standard package.

Re:Amateur research still strong (1)

Mr. Freeman (933986) | more than 4 years ago | (#30875282)

"If it's such a minor thing, why don't your people with advanced degrees "read the fucking graph generated by someone else.""

Because they're busy doing science. You know, designing telescopes, doing calculations, determining where the scope should be pointed based off of data that requires a lot of education to understand.

Their time is too valuable to spend hours watching graphs looking for blobs.

Re:Amateur research still strong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30880832)

Then why bother getting a degree?

Re:Amateur research still strong (1)

Urkki (668283) | more than 4 years ago | (#30872304)

She punched in some commands, she didn't do science.

So, pretty much what grad students do, then?

Re:Amateur research still strong (1)

Mr. Freeman (933986) | more than 4 years ago | (#30875232)

I may have been a bit quick on the draw there. After finding the second article it appears that she didn't even type in any commands. I didn't edit it our because it wasn't exactly clear.

Now if only... (-1, Troll)

nilbog (732352) | more than 4 years ago | (#30865116)

Now if only West Virginia could discover tooth paste they'd be all set.

*rimshot!*

Naw, I'm just kidding. They have tooth paste, but in West Virginia it really is intended for just one tooth.

*rimshot!*

Seriously, though. I've been there. The jokes are true.

Man... (1)

XPeter (1429763) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866102)

Shes cute, geeky, AND my age.

Mine.

Re:Man... (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866234)

Too bad, dude:

Here's [imageshack.us] a picture of her at a party last weekend.

Re:Man... (1)

XPeter (1429763) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866244)

Damnit, once you go black you never go back :(

Guess I can't compete...

http://tinyurl.com/3a62xu [tinyurl.com]

Age (1)

Setherghd (942294) | more than 4 years ago | (#30869842)

So is the story about a new pulsar or the kid? I find the former more interesting.

I have always been annoyed by these headlines. I guess there's quite a bit more traffic if something mundane is sensationalized with the age of the person. It seems to work best if they're a minor or elder.

Oh well. Congratulations, kiddo!
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