Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter

We hope you all had a good Easter. Ours was spent hanging around and relaxing. This evening, we hosted a pizza and movie night in our apartment. About 25 students came by for the free food and to watch the original Indiana Jones movie. Fortunately, Noelle slept through the whole thing.

The highlight of Noelle's day was good Skype calls with the grandparents. Skype really is a great way to stay in tough. Everyone enjoyed seeing Noelle play and roll around. She's so active now! Noelle also really liked a new treat she got to try today - Mom's frozen berry smoothie. Once she got over the initial shock of how cold the smoothie was, she enjoyed it very much!

Yum, smoothie =)

Monday, April 18, 2011

7 Months Old

My, time is flying! It's hard to believe that Noelle is already 7 months old!

Oh, grass is interesting.

But, flying is better!

Last weekend, we spend some quality family time hanging out. On Saturday, we went out for a picnic (aka Subway lunch) on campus. Pictured above is Noelle's highlight, 'flying' with daddy.

Tonight, on her 7-month 'birthday', Noelle received a visit from her Uncle Jascha.

What a curious beard you have.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Blueberries, yummy!

Enjoying my blueberry and rice cereal breakfast!
Today I'm staying home to catch up on some household tasks. A nice side-effect of staying home is that I got to give Noelle her breakfast. She loves her solids, and she's really happy in the mornings. So, breakfast is the most fun meal of the day. 
After she was fed, we headed over to day care where they were having a parent breakfast pot-luck (I signed up for the very easy bagels and cream cheese). So I had breakfast and chatted with other parents and Noelle's teachers while she played happily with the other babies. It is cute to watch her with them now, especially since she can move around, go after toys, etc.. I was glad to spend some time with her there while she played and see that she was enjoying herself.

The rest of the day will include apartment cleaning, a workout, walking the dogs (poor, neglected doggies) and a lunch date with Alex. Then, we'll pick baby girl up early and start the weekend  =)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Future Physicist?

Noelle has graduated from rolling everywhere to 'scooting'. While she can't crawl quite yet, she can get anywhere she wants to go. Here are here destinations of choice this morning.

Heading for Dad's Books

Oh, Mom's Computer Looks Good Too!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Dr. Hayes

Today was a VERY BIG day for the Hayes family. Alex successfully defended his PhD thesis. He's now a Dr.!*

Dr. Hayes and Family

Alex's thesis is titled "Hydrocarbon Lakes on Titan and Their Role in the Methane Cycle". While he has worked on a variety of topics during his graduate career, the majority of his time has been spent studying Titan's hydrocarbon (thought mostly to be Methane and Ethane) lakes.

There is no way I will do his work justice, but I'll try to summarize it a bit.

To study these features, he relied on data captured by Nasa's Cassini Spacecraft. This spacecraft, launched in 1997, has been orbiting Saturn since 2004.

Cassini Assembly (link)

Due to Titan's thick, Methane rich atmosphere, in order to 'see' the surface a RADAR instrument was required. Cassini's 5-horn RADAR was able to provide fairly good (up to 300 meter resolution) pictures of Titan and lead to the very exciting discovery of lakes on the surface (the first body besides Earth found to have them!).

Lakes on Titan (link)

So, where does Alex's thesis fit into all of this? He studied and drew conclusions from three major areas of interest surrounding Titan's lakes: Lake Distribution, Lake Properties and Seasonal Variations. The quick version of his conclusions is this:
  • Titan has an active hydrologic cycle - only the third body ever confirmed to have one (Earth has one now, Mars had one in the past).
  • Likely several dynamic forces are at play in this system: evaporation, a saturated subsurface, 'rain', etc.
  • Seasonal variation plays a huge role, especially in explaining the dichotomy in lake distribution (much more are currently in the North vs. the South polar region.
  • Alex was able to derive the dielectric constant of the lakes and confirmed it to be consistent with Earth based measurements of the dielectric constant of hydrocarbons (helped solidify that the lakes are actually methane/ethane).
  • Alex's bathymetry map of one South polar lake, Ontario Lacus, combined with repeat observations, yielded confirmation of change in depth over time, consistent with the changing seasons.
There is so much more that could be said of Alex's work. The best compliment, though, came from his advisor, Oded, when he noted that several of Alex's discoveries will live on in the field. He has made a real contribution to our understanding of Titan.

Congratulations, Alex. We're very proud of you!

*Not to be outdone, Noelle had her own great accomplishment today: her first tooth broke through!