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Edinburgh, a city that celebrates the artists, philosophers and scientists

November 20 2013 , Written by Wing-Fai Thi

Edinburgh is a town that celebrates its humanists, its writers, and its scientists instead of his kings, dictators, or war heroes. While visiting together the town, a visitor of mine from Germany pointed to a neo-gothic moment on Princes street, the main...

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Platform 9 ¾

November 19 2013 , Written by Wing-Fai Thi

Astronomers travel quite often, either for work or because of the two-body problem. Waiting hours at airports or train stations is pretty common. Most airports are utterly boring architecture-wise but a few old train stations are worth a visit. One day...

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Why me? Experiencing discriminations

November 18 2013 , Written by Wing-Fai Thi Published on #book reviews

I am reviewing a book currently available in French only (“Pourquoi pas? L’expérience des discriminations” par François Dubet, Olivier Cousin, Eric Macé, et Sandrine Rui). It should not be too difficult for someone “trained” to review papers, observing...

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A mood for poems

November 17 2013 , Written by Wing-Fai Thi

I am a scientist, not at all a skilled writer or poete. When I am in the mood, I still like to give it a try with an astrophysicist's twist, off-course. At the telescope Oh mirror, powerful mirror, what will you let me stare at tonight? The youth of the...

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Being a post-doc in a foreign country, the view of a “professional foreigner”

November 15 2013 , Written by Wing-Fai Thi

As a child you spend years mastering your language or grasping your culture. It is not surprising that the younger you move to a new country, the easier you can adapt. Children absorb new ideas or new ways of doing things with enthusiasm. They are open...

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What is the most "exclusive hotel” in the world?

November 14 2013 , Written by Wing-Fai Thi Published on #Architecture

My cousin works in luxurious hotels and once he showed me a book about what he thought should be the most exclusive hotels on Earth. Those hotels have incredible architectures, outstanding restaurants, and top-notch service. But still he changed in mind...

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Scientific presentation and graphic design

November 13 2013 , Written by Wing-Fai Thi

Graphs are central in scientific communication but most scientists are not trained in graphic design. It is therefore not surprising to see a large scale in the quality of the figures and slides that are shown in papers and presentations. The same way...

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Two-body, three-body, and N-body problem

November 12 2013 , Written by Wing-Fai Thi

I said that I will not talk about astronomical phenomena in this blog but I will do an exception about the so-called two-body problem in academia. Two-body problem exists outside academia and concerns couples with careers that require a physical separation....

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Are scientisits immune from making logical fallacies?

November 12 2013 , Written by Wing-Fai Thi

Critical thinking is what makes a good scientist. But I have to admit that I never had a formal training on that subject and had to learn it by listening to an excellent podcast (http://www.theskepticsguide.org/). The lead podcaster Steven Novella has...

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Optimism, pessimism, realism, and stress

November 11 2013 , Written by Wing-Fai Thi

Optimism and stress are quite common character traits among astronomers. Unexpectedly, both are related. Our tendency to be optimistic about our ability to achieve a goal in a given amount of time, which is hard to determine in science, often results...

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