Who is that guy with the beard?

This picture was taken at the January 1997 annual banquet of the Los Angeles Astronomical Society. Pictured, from left to right, are board members Ken Ward, Virginia Ward, Vivian Zee, President Tim Thompson, and Dr. Edwin Krupp, Director of Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles. The wizard outfit belongs to Dr. Krupp; the robe was purchased, but the hat was made by Ed's wife, Robin Rector Krupp, well known author & illustrator of children's books.

On my monitor it appears that Netscape makes the picture too dark. I hope it looks better on yours.

My first career was in languages. In high school I was a straight-A student in French, and continued along those lines in my first attempt at being a college student. But I eventually chose to avoid being drafted into the U.S. Army, and joined the U.S. Air Force instead. This worked out well, and I got into the Defense Language Institute, located at the Presidio of Monterey, California, where I passed a 37 week long intensive training course in the Russian language. The course included 1110 hours of in-class time, plus homework and language lab. After the course, I passed the qualifying exam to become a military linguist in both Russian and French. I then went on for further training at Goodfellow Air Force Base, and subsequently remained there as part of the staff of the USAF School of Applied Cryptological Science until I left the Air Force in 1975. After subsequently returning to college, I took a couple of courses in Japanese, enough to pick up Hiragana, and Katakana, along with basic spoken Japanese, but not enough to learn Kanji. I have also tried to teach myself enough German to read the comments in all of my German chess books, but with limited results (I'm too lazy to do it right). Also, as a physics student, I translated a Russian paper on the laboratory modeling of a neutron star. I have never lost my interest in languages, and have picked up an interest, strictly at the amateur level, in comparative or historical linguistics.

My second career is in physics. After leaving the Air Force, and returning to California State University at Los Angeles I studied physics, getting a B.S. degree in 1978, and an M.S. in 1985. I came to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) as a contractor in January, 1981, and switched to being a JPL employee in June 1984. I started out in the Radio Astronomy Group (RAG), doing research on the atmospheres, and magnetospheres of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, via ground based radio astronomy. After that I moved from the RAG into the Terrestrial Science Research Element of the reorganized Earth and Space Sciences Division. There I spent nearly 8 years on the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) project, looking down at Earth from space, instead of up at space from Earth. I worked on the algorithms used to compensate for the affect Earth's atmosphere has on orbiting infrared radiometer data intended to reveal surface temperature and emissivity. The ASTER project is one of several projects which together constitute the Earth Observing System (EOS). EOS, in turn, is the tactical implementation of the Earth Science Enterprise (formerly known as Mission to Planet Earth or MTPE), a large scale NASA program designed to apply technology developed in exploring the solar system, to the task of exploring Earth. The primary goal is to understand how the global climate system works, and to understand how global climate change comes about. In January, 2002, I came back to astronomy, re-joining the Radio-Submillimeter Astronomy Team, where I am currently on the staff of the newly established Center for Long Wavelength Astrophysics. Our main focus at the moment is the Space Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF), now scheduled for launch on April 18, 2003. SIRTF will complete the "Great Observatories" program established years ago by NASA. The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) was one of them, and SIRTF will be a similar instrument, except that it will work in the infrared, at wavelengths ranging from 4 to 160 microns, far beyond the longest wavelength range of the HST. SIRTF will be more sensitive to high redshift galaxies, and can study stellar disks to learn more about planet formation. Here at the center we will produce software tools to aid in the analysis of images & spectral data from SIRTF. We will do likewise for future missions, such as the Herschel Space Observatory and the Planck Surveyor.

My third career, which I have followed since early childhood, is chess. I compete regularly in local and national tournaments. My lifetime peak USCF rating was 2154, which I reached in the mid 80's. Since then, age & distraction have taken their toll, and my current USCF rating (as of April 2003) is 1906. Still good enough to win the occasional prize (see my Mars Attacks page for the exploits of the team in the US Amateur Team chess championships). I am also 'President by Default" of the Pasadena Chess Club.

Although I have studied astronomy and astrophysics in some professional detail, I also have a strong interest in amateur astronomy. I have served as an officer in a few amateur organizations, and I give talks or lectures regularly to school groups, other amateur astronomy groups, or civic groups, or anybody else who wants to listen!

I also have a strong interest in the welfare of science over pseudoscience. I was a regular contributor in the talk.origins usenet newsgroup, But essentially gave it up years ago, when it became just too much of a hassle. I have written a number of articles on various topics, some housed in the talk.origins FAQ archive, others here on my own pages.

I have always had an interest in history, a natural companion for my interest in languages. But I am particularly interested in military history and science. Along the same lines, I also suffer from the all too expensive hobby/habit of collecting antiquarian books. Thus far, my oldest book is a 1698 edition of Blaise Pascal's work on gas laws (in French).

Page updated and links checked: April 8, 2003

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