Postdoctoral Fellowships: Caltech (1998-1999); Cambridge (1995-1998)
PhD.: (Theoretical Astrophysics) Harvard (1995)
M.A.S. (Part III Applied Maths. Tripos): Cambridge (1991)
S.B.: (Physics); S.B. (Mathematics) MIT (1990)
As a professor, I consider myself to be a "player-coach" of theoretical astrophysics. That is, I maintain a steady subset of projects for which I myself do the primary calculations, interpretation, and writing. I also have projects for which I supervise or advise others, contributing at different levels depending on the project and the collbaoration team. I often think about the analogy with sports, and particularly the distinction between coaching and playing. Merely coaching provides none of the exercise, fitness, or skill training that actually playing the sport offers. Playing is necessary to stay in shape and avoid crustiness, even if one also coaches.
Plasma astrophysics has been an underlying theme in much of my recent research because many fascinating astrophysical sources contain highly conducting magnetized plasma. For example, observations of the interplanetary medium, the sun, stars, galaxies, active galactic nuclei (AGN), and planetary nebulae, indicate that magnetized plasmas are important to the dynamics and/or the emission in these systems. Some of my recent activities can be divided in three categories:
1. EJECTORS, ACCRETORS, BURSTERS, AND FLARES
This category of projects is devoted to understanding high energy accreting or jetted astrophysical sources such as active galactic nuclei (AGN), Galactic microquasars, gamma-ray bursts (GRB), solar flares, and planetary nebulae. These sources are magnetized, exhibit aspherical outflows and efficient particle acceleration, and involve turbulence. The physics of particle acceleration, accretion disks, and high energy plasmas are important for these studies.
2. ORIGIN AND DYNAMICS OF MAGNETIC FIELDS
This category of projects focues on a rigorous understanding of the the orgin and dynamics of astrophysical magnetic fields and the associated MHD turbulence. Magnetic fields are not only fundamental for their dynamical role as an intermediary between gravitational energy and radiation in many sources, but are observable astrophysical entities themselves, detected by a variety of techniques. See the following figure (from ApJ 584 L99 (2003). ) which encapsulates some progress (e.g. Phys. Rev. Lett., 89, 265007 (2002)) of how magnetic dynamos conserve magnetic helicity. Here is a more recent review in "Space Science Reviews" Some of the underlying MHD physics also has application to magnetic pinch configurations in laboratory plasma configurations of fusion devices. I am now directing attention toward these applications.
3. FORMATION OF ASTROPHYSICAL OBJECTS
I have been involved in projects focusing on planet formation, star formation, and molecular cloud evolution.
Pictures of Insight on Facebook
Audio recording of Insight speaking for 25 minutes on his play gym alone in the kitchen early in the morning (August 2009). (video showing him at his play gym on another ocassion to show his location) , and comments and transcript of the first half.
KITCHEN WEBCAM Live (video + audio) showing Insight's feeding area. He may or may not be there as he is free to fly around the house.
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