So, a list it will be. But it was an interesting month.
Astronomy: late in March I took leave from my job to work for three months on a research project with the Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing at Swinburne University. The project involves using data mining techniques to search for pulsars in radio data — the idea is to increase the level of automation and to look at large amounts of data to identify good (interesting) candidates more quickly than a person would be able to.
I will write more about this in the future.
Parkes: earlier this month, I had the chance to spend a few days at the Parkes Observatory with astronomers from Swinburne who were there to conduct observations. This was not directly related to the project I described above — I was there to help with the installation and configuration of a new set of servers that will be used to capture and process data coming from the telescope for pulsar studies.
I will write a longer article about that visit; for now, here are some of the pictures I took while there:
Jury service: a while back I received a letter saying I had been selected for jury service. It contained a questionnaire to determine whether I was excused from serving (I wasn’t) and instructions to wait for further instructions. These came early in April, telling me where to go and when. So, on Tuesday last week I went to the Melbourne County Court, together with about a hundred other people, and waited to be selected for a trial (or not – chances are heavily in favour of not being selected, apparently). On arrival you are sent straight to the pool room (and if that’s not funny to you, go watch The Castle) where you sit and wait after watching a short video.
It turns out that, after a 3-hour wait, I was indeed selected for a trial (one of the two starting on that day). A jury consists of 12 people picked a random from the pool, but the number of people selected for a trial is actually larger; some 25 of us were sent into the court room, where’s there’s another ballot to pick the final 12. During this process the lawyers for both sides can reject any juror they don’t like (bearing in mind that the only thing they know about them is their name, occupation and what they look like), and potential jurors can also ask to be excused (in case of a conflict of interest, for example, or if they know any of the parties). And, once again, I was one of the selected (and I wasn’t rejected).
I won’t talk about details of the case other than to mention that it was a criminal case (you can be selected for both criminal and civil trials) and it was very short — shorter than average, we were told. It started after lunch on that day, we were done with the witnesses by the end of the next day and the jury retired to deliberate before lunch on the third day; by the end of the third day we were done. It was an interesting experience, and I actually enjoyed the process. I don’t think I would be saying this if it had lasted for a significantly longer period, though, as it does disrupt your life and is a very intense experience. The deliberations, in particular, were stressful and discussion was heated at times. I think it’s a good experience to go through — once.