Analyzing the conditions for studying stars

Even a cloudless sky can mean bad weather for one of the world’s biggest optical telescopes. The reason is turbulence in Earth’s atmosphere, which constantly changes the optical properties of different layers of air. As a result stars appear to twinkle and any deep images of the night sky get blurred. For astronomers it is extremely useful to know the current observing conditions, not least because prime observing time is precious and optimal scheduling is critical. At the Paranal Observatory, home to the Very Large Telescope (VLT), conditions are recorded every minute during regular operations.

Ask Why! Finding motives, causes, and purpose in data science

Some people equate predictive modelling with data science, thinking that mastering various machine learning techniques is the key that unlocks the mysteries of the field. However, there is much more to data science than the What and How of predictive modelling. I recently gave a talk where I argued the importance of asking Why, touching on three different topics: stakeholder motives, cause-and-effect relationships, and finding a sense of purpose. A video of the talk is available below. Unfortunately, the videographer mostly focused on me pacing rather than on the screen, but you can check out the slides here (note that you need to use both the left/right and up/down arrows to see all the slides).