Friday, February 18, 2011

Polishing Cannonballs


We had some funny moments at the NASA Ames #nasatweetup, and one of the funniest was listening to the very spirited Senior Principal Software Engineer at the Kepler Science Operations Center at NASA Ames, Bill Wohler.

Ever heard of the Kepler Cannonball Awards?

Sometimes, it takes only a simple moment of levity to tell you everything you need to know about the collective sense of humor at NASA.

Late-breaking update: About 30 minutes after I uploaded this video, it was linked and tweeted so many times, it showed up in the NASA Buzzroom! Wow, speed!

I dig this guy, he's the type you'd dedicate a yearbook to if you had him as a professor. While I was researching all the Kepler teams, his profile cracked me up, particularly his answer to Why I Joined The Kepler Team:
"I was tired of working for start-ups, so I began to paint my parachute and the color that emerged was that I should apply my software skills in a field that I was passionate about -- such as astronomy. I am now working on a project that is contributing to mankind's knowledge. What could be more rewarding than that?"

Wohler's personal web pages, linked through the NASA site, are also entertaining and informative. Read his resume if you want to feel like a complete slacker, and also don't miss his Notes for Nerds and Desperately Seeking Aliens efforts.

Kepler Cannonball Awards
I grew up in the 1970s, when "cannonballer" had a completely different slang meaning, so seeing a new regeneration of cannonballs that have nothing to do with pirates or lamborghinis... all good news.

The people previously accused of "polishing cannonballs" can chuckle, hold their heads high, and just keep repeating: "1,235 planet candidates and growing!"

Pretty good polishing job, dudes. ;)