Welcome. I am Dr. Jerome James Brainerd, the writer, editor, and owner of The Astrophysics Spectator. This web site is devoted to our current understanding of and research in astronomy and astrophysics. My goals in publishing these pages are to present current work to a scientifically-knowledgeable readership, to draw out the dominant themes that are encountered when one studies astronomy, and to present my opinions on the direction of research and the politics of modern science.
This site went on line on October 6, 2004. Updates to the site are published on the home page every fortnight on a Wednesday (UTC). The home page is effectively a table of contents for the newly-added pages, and I treat each edition of the home page and the associated new pages as an issue of a journal of the site.
Because of its youth, this site is still shallow it its coverage of many of the branches of astrophysics. I plan to expand coverage to all of astronomy and astrophysics, ranging from planetary and solar physics to cosmology and the search for life in the universe, and I plan to develop pages that present my own thoughts on the philosophy of science. The pages on this site include Java applets that illustrate and simulate various astronomical phenomena.
The top of every page has a set of links to the principal pages of the site. The Home link is to the current home page for the site; you will find on that page, as well as this Information page, a link to the RSS channel for the site. The upper-left box on the home page contains links to recently-added pages. The body of the home page describes the most recent pages added to the web site. The Topics link leads to sets of pages, which I call paths, describing the workings of astronomical objects and the current research efforts to better understand them. The first topic listed under the topics index page is entitled “The Structure of Our Universe.” This topic path is the introductory path for the web site; all other topics extend in greater technical detail the discussion found along it. The remaining topics divide into two groups: topics in astronomy, such as planets and stars, and topics in physics, such as Newtonian gravity and special relativity. Under the Interactive Pages link one can find lists of this site's Java applets, which I call “simulators” if they simulate astrophysical phenomena and “live figures” if they present plots that can be configured by the reader. All of these pages belong to specific topic paths. The Commentary link is to a list of commentaries that I have written on a variety of topics loosely related to astronomy and astrophysics. The Other Pages link leads to an index of indexes. Among these indexes are an index to book reviews, an index to old news items, an index to tables of data, an index of old home pages, an index of external links, and an index of bibliographic sources. The Store link leads to an off-site store where you can buy cups, shirts, and other items printed with various images from this web site. The final link, Information link, is to this page.
I am Dr. Jerome James Brainerd, a professional astrophysicist who is working on theoretical problems in high-energy astrophysics. I have a B.S. in Physics from the University of Notre Dame and a Ph.D. in Astronomy from Harvard University. My primary research is on the radiative processes responsible for the light we see from x-ray pulsars and gamma-ray bursts. This research is published in the Astrophysical Journal and in numerous conference proceedings. My strongest interest, however, is in the philosophy of science, and I am particularly preoccupied with how the limits of human knowledge constrain our ability to understand the universe.
Comments about the content of this web site or information about new research can be sent to the editor.
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