The BISHOP Lecture

"Seamless Astronomy...and The Bones of the Milky Way"

by Alyssa Goodman (Harvard)

Most astronomy researchers use online travel tools like Kayak and Expedia, yet they don't expect such integrative services in their research. Instead, they use "modernized" versions of old technologies, such as sending each other email in lieu of paper letters. Some astronomers, however, are leading the way toward a future that has much less precedent in a pre-internet world. In this talk, I will explain elements of what future-leaning astronomers mean by "Seamless Astronomy", a term which effectively describes an ecosystem for scholarly research as smart and streamlined as Kayak is for travel. I will also speculate on why more traditional astronomers are not always quick to appreciate or adopt "Seamless" principles--even though they use its products (including a wealth of well-organized, interconnected, literature and data) all the time. To make the theoretical situation more real, I will organize my talk around an ongoing astronomical research project that concerns a long so-called "infrared dark cloud" named "Nessie" and how it can be used to map out the skeletal structure ("Bones") of our Milky Way. The 10-person collaboration working on the Nessie/Bones project includes researchers whose preferences range from traditionalist to futurist, and so offers no end of anecdotes with which to illuminate the Seamless Astronomy story!