This part of the website is undergoing some changes. In the mean time, check out my previous monthly highlights.

>> FEBRUARY 2013 <<



At the end of January I was part of the organization of a one-day workshop at ESAC to bring together the star and planet formation community working in different institutions from the Madrid area (CAB, UAM, UCM, OAN, and ESA). We had a series of short talks to learn about the different on-going projects. Collaboration and better sharing of resources and expertise are today more important than ever. This was a great opportunity to meet people working on the same field and just a few km away. The talks are now online!


February was marked by the Oscars ceremony, where this year the prizes were very much divided across different films, without any clear winner. Also many awards for young talents, showing that not only the big names make it. I have not yet caught up with all the nominated films, but quite enjoyed a watching a couple of them in the cinema this month.


Argo (Just what a pity Ben Affleck was the leading actor, not really up for the job.)


The Recycled Island
I'm always surprised about the ventures being by Dutch companies. Have a look into the Recycled Island project, which wants to transform the great pacific garbage patch into a sustainable island.

Raspberry Pi
Raspberry Pi has been nominated for Designs of the Year 2013! In a society where more things become automated, it's essential we don't loose touch with what goes inside all this technological marvels. Raspberry Pi is one of the most astute ways of using open source hardware and software to attract people into programming.


What I've been listening too this month:

Yo La Tengo have a new album, Fade, I had forgotten how much I just love their music. I saw them live in small pub in Edinburgh in the summer of 2003, and it was awesome.

And of course another highlight of the month gotta be the come back of Mr. David Bowie. Either you were a fan or not, it's definitely worth listening too.

And one can already listen to the single from Karl Bartos latest work, Atomium from the album Off the record, which will be out for sale in early March. The closest it gets to hear something new from Kraftwerk!

>> JANUARY 2013 <<



Some news on brown dwarfs this month, with a new survey that has looked for these cold objects in the field using the WISE all-sky source catalogue and found 87 new T dwarfs (those have temperatures between ~500-1000K), more than doubling the number of T dwarfs known in our Galaxy.
A Study of the Diverse T Dwarf Population Revealed by WISE (Mace et al. 2013)

Another suggestion for a bit of fun with astronomy is to use the World Wide Telescope, a visualization software that allows you to look at imaging data from ground and space telescopes of your favorite objects on sky.


January is a cold and wet month, ideal to stay home and catch-up with movies I missed on the cinema. These are the DVDs I have watched this month:

Moneyball (Bennett Miller)
Les intouchables (Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano)
A dangerous method (David Cronenberg)


The winners of an European grant dedicated to future technologies (FET Flagships initiative) were announced this month. Two projects were chosen, one on graphene, a bidimentiona form of carbon that is likely toplay a dominant role in future electronics, and the other is supporting a a project to have a supercomputer simulating the human brain. More info on the project's websites:

An amazing publicity video from last year that I only spotted now, the LED snowboarder:

And another measure of the impact of the crisis on Europe, a study of the voting preferences at the European Song Contest appear to reflect the tensions between countries.


What I've been listening too this month:

Django Django
Norberto Lobo

>> DECEMBER 2012 <<



The December holiday break is always a good opportunity to make a balance of everything that has happened throughout the year. Here is my random list of personal and worldwide events for which I will remember 2012:

(+) LHC announces the discovery of the Higgs boson.
(-) EU research budget comes under threat from crises stricken members (prompting an online petition to protect research funding which gathers over 150 000 signatures.)

(+) SpaceX sends the first commercial vehicle to the ISS marking the start of a new era in space transportation.
(-) Space Shuttle (Atlantis) joins the Kennedy Space Centre Visitor complex, becoming a museum item.

(+) Europe is awarded the Nobel Peace prize for the recent decades contributing for peace and human rights.
(-) The economic crisis in Portugal, and other countries, has devastating effects on the daily life of thousands of people.

(+) China sends first female astronaut on a space mission.
(-) Neil Armstrong dies, and the number of human beings alive ever to have been on the moon is reduced to a mere eight.

(+) The Olympic Games took place in London, an event full of joy and new records.
(-) Lance Armstrong is disqualified from all his results since August 1998 for doping.

(+) I started working for ESA in the JWST team, a dream come true!
(-) I did not use up a bunch of leave days, must do better holiday planning next year.

(+) I turned 30 with an amazing house party, which was really a lot of fun.
(-) I did not visit as many friends as I had planned too.

(+) The world did not come to an end on the 21-12-2012.
(-) A scarily high number of people did seem to believe it was going to happen.

>> NOVEMBER 2012 <<



The discovery of the highest redshift candidate galaxy ever known was announced, the paper will appear on Dec. 20 on ApJ, but can be read on astro-ph: . Check also NASA's press-release:

The Ministerial Council 2012 will take place this month, a meeting where the ministers of ESA's member states gather to agree on the future of Europe's role in the space sector. Follow the events on a dedicated website:

The KINGFISH team released an impressive new view of the Hubble Tuning Fork, combining their results from large surveys of nearby galaxies with Spitzer and Herschel.


A great way to start the month was Sam Mendes take on 007. The new James Bond movie didn't disappoint, with plenty of references to the old adventures of the secret agent and new revelations about his origins!


Seems like November is a busy month for volcanoes around the world, with two of the largest in the world showing signs of enhanced activity:
New Zeeland:

Something else that may be of interested to many, are the increasing numbers of online courses offered by renown universities, giving people around the world a unique access to knowledge, in what could be the first step in changing the way we handle higher education. Check some of the articles here:


What I've been listening too this month:
Grizzly Bear, Shields
Cat Power, Sun
The Walkmen, Heaven

>> JULY 2012 <<


Great result on Science this month, the first detection of a pre–brown dwarf! The process by which brown dwarfs form is still very much debated, with several teams working on different scenarios. This result is important since it shows that brown dwarfs can form by the same process as stars, the collapse of prestellar cores.
Interferometric Identification of a Pre–Brown Dwarf André, Philippe; Ward–Thompson, Derek; Greaves, Jane.

Another highlight of the month has to be the great video Sh*t Astronomers Say made by several astronomers at the DotAstronomy meeting. Spot on!

And something to remind me to always keep my contacts up to date on the internet, just in case astrophysics is the next target for random prize of insanely amount of money!


I have seen the latest film of Wes Anderson, Moonrise Kingdom, with a superb cast, and delicious story. Highly recommended! Official website here


With the 2012 Olympics in full swing, several interesting articles have come up this month revealing the complexity involved in training athletes for this level of competition. With the indication that current world records are reaching the human limits, a battalion of scientists is working with athletes to find ways to achieve their maximum performance. As Mark McClusky of Wired puts it, "Forget about recruiting the best athletes; if you really want to build a great athletic team, it's time to recruit the best PhDs.” Go geeks!

And since satellites are what allow us to watch one of the world's largest media events (the Olympics!), here is a video celebrating the 50 years of satellite transmission and explaining how all is done:


Summer always means loads of new releases matching a certain openness to listen more often to music, either as the sound track of the holidays or to ease the working days when it's sunny outside. These are the albums that have filled my July days:

>> JUNE 2012 <<


Transit of Venus
This month, the last transit of Venus of the century took place. Unfortunately, we did not manage to see it from Madrid, but some colleagues from ESA have traveled to Svalbard and Canberra and made amazing pictures. Read more about it here. Photo Credits: ESA - E. Baldwin.

The Labyrinth of Star Formation, a conference dedicated to Prof. Anthony Whitworth
I participated to a great meeting on star formation this month, where several new observational and theoretical results have been presented. On the observations, the Herschel and Alma results on young clusters were among the most impressive. Check out the program and the presentations here.

New version of DS9
A new version of DS9 has been released with several small improvements that will certainly make our lives easy!


Pina, a film for Pina Bausch by Wim Wenders
I did not resist seeing again this movie in the cinema, an amazing application of 3D filming. The depth given by the 3D picture to the scenes are fundamental in reproducing the sense of the stage. More importantly, the dancers, the sound track, superb!
Official website here


The first commercial vehicle has been sent to the ISS, performed a successful docking, and was sent back to Earth where it landed safely, marking a new era for space exploration. The rocket was developed by SpaceX, and carried a cargo with supplies to the ISS crew. Photo Credits: NASA.


My highlight of the month in music is for Hot Chip who are back with a new album, maybe their best so far.
Official website here.

>> MAY 2012 <<


This month I highlight 4 very different articles. In the first one, J. Fohlmeister and Ch. Helling put together a very sound analysis of the conditions under which female astronomers work in Germany. Sad to read since no one wants to believe some of the situations women still have to endure during their scientific careers. Many astronomers must surely have downloaded the second article, Eric Feigelson is known as the guru of statistics in astronomy and this review and introduction to R is very welcome! On scientific results, I highlight a very up to date review on the IMF of low mass stars and brown dwarfs by R. D. Jeffries. And at last the controversy that marked last couple of months: "the mystery of the disappearance of dark matter and its reappearance 1 month later".

Career situation of female astronomers in Germany, J. Fohlmeister & Ch. Helling
Statistical methods for astronomy, Feigelson, E. D. & Jogesh Basu, G.
Measuring the initial mass function of low mass stars and brown dwarfs, R. D. Jeffries
No evidence of dark matter in the solar neighborhood, C. Moni Bidin, G. Carraro, R. A. Mendez, R. Smith
On the local dark matter density, Jo Bovy, Scott Tremaine (IAS)


My movie of the month is the documentary by Gonçalo Tocha, É na terra nao é na lua, which is the winner of several awards in renown festivals. Throughout the film, one can feel the director was accepted and respected by the community in the way they feel comfortable with the camera or even call out to him. It manages to capture many traditions at the risk of dying, while always presenting us with spontaneous but very beautiful shots. I particularly liked the subtle humor, present in the choice of words and images, not explicit but very intelligent. And finally I also liked the soundtrack, which relayed not on music but on the power of the sounds of nature, of the island and the people. Official website here. This month the festival of Cannes 2012 took place. I haven't had a chance to see any of the movies up for competition, hopefully in June!


This month the so-called "flu papers" were finally published after much controversy. At the centre of the discussion is whether or not research about a form of H5N1 avian flu virus showing that specific mutations can make it transmissible between mammals, should be made public. The intense debate opposed defenders of the freedom of research and publication of results, to those worried about information falling in the wrong hands. In astronomy we are not usually face with this kind of dilemma, though one could imagine such situation if we were to discover life on another planet?, an asteroid heading towards earth?, gold on the Moon?! Read more about here


This new album of Air was done in conjuction with the restoration of what is known as the first science-fiction film "Le Voyage Dans La Line" of Georges Melies in 1902. Worth getting for the music but also since the special edition includes a DVD with the film.
Official website here.