Mike Brown

NOTE: There is more than one author with this name on Goodreads.Youth and educationBrown is a Huntsville, Alabama native and graduated from Virgil I. Grissom High School in 1983. Brown earned his A.B. in physics from Princeton University in 1987, where he was a member of the Princeton Tower Club. He did his graduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley where he earned an M.Sc. in astronomy in 1990 and a Ph.D. in astronomy in 1994.DiscoveriesBrown is well-known in the scientific community for his surveys for distant objects orbiting the Sun. His team has discovered many trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs). Particularly notable are Eris, the only TNO discovered that is more massive than Pluto,[2] and is one of a number of dwarf planets in the Solar System; 90377 Sedna, a planetoid thought to be the first observed body belonging to the inner Öpik-Oort cloud; and 90482 Orcus.Brown's team famously named Eris and its moon Dysnomia with the informal names Xena and Gabrielle, respectively, after the two main characters of Xena: Warrior Princess.Haumea controversyBrown and his team also had been observing the dwarf planet Haumea for approximately six months before its announced discovery by José Luis Ortiz Moreno and colleagues from the Sierra Nevada Observatory in Spain. Brown originally indicated his support for Ortiz's team being given credit for the discovery of Haumea. However, further investigation showed that a website containing archives of where Brown's team's telescopes had been pointed while tracking Haumea had been accessed eight times in the three days preceding Ortiz's announcement, by computers with IP addresses that were traced back to the website of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (CSIC, Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia), where Ortiz works, and to e-mail messages sent by Ortiz and his student. These website accesses came a week after Brown had published an abstract for an upcoming conference talk at which he had planned to announce the discovery of Haumea; the abstract referred to Haumea by a code that was the same code used in the online telescope logs; and the Andalusia computers had accessed the logs containing that code directly, as would be the case after an Internet search, without going through the home page or other pages of the archives.[5] When asked about this online activity, Ortiz responded with an email to Brown that suggested Brown was at fault for "hiding objects," and said that "the only reason why we are now exchanging e-mail is because you did not report your object."[6] Brown says that this statement by Ortiz contradicts the accepted scientific practice of analyzing one's research until one is satisfied that it is accurate, then submitting it to peer review prior to any public announcement. However, the MPC only needs precise enough orbit determination on the object in order to provide discovery credit, and Ortiz et al. not only provided the orbit, but "precovery" images of the body in 1957 plates.The then director of the IAA, José Carlos del Toro, distanced himself from Ortiz, insisting that its researchers have "sole responsibility" for themselves. Brown petitioned the International Astronomical Union to credit his team rather than Ortiz as the discoverers of Haumea. However, no evidence of impropriety was found, and Ortiz et al. were given sole credit for the discovery. Nonetheless, the IAU did accept Brown's suggested name of Haumea, which fit the names of Haumea's two moons, rather than Ortiz's Ataecina.Honors, awards and accoladesBrown was named one of Time's 100 Influential People of 2006.[7] In 2007 he received Caltech's annual Feynman Prize, Caltech's most prestigious teaching honor. Asteroid 11714 Mikebrown, discovered on 28 April 1998, was named in his honor.


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