### H \alpha spectral line profiles

Starting from ground zero, the H \alpha (Balmer) emission line is observed at a wavelength of 656.3 NM. It is one of the most prominent emission lines observed in galaxies and it was one of the lines that I was looking for with Prof. Jeremy Mould as part of a summer project. Over the course of our work, we found something interesting. Given the differences in inclination of galaxies (from our point of view i.e face-on or side-on point of view), differences in distribution of gas in the galaxy and the galaxy's rotation curve, the shape of the H \alpha line differs a lot! In the lab, it'd be a simple Gaussian function but in practice, it ends up being a sum of multiple Gaussian functions with different mean and variance. Interestingly, it might happen that the spectral line has two peaks instead of one.

Think of a case where you are observing a galaxy side-on i.e one of the arms of the galaxy is moving towards you and the other, moving away. Using the same principle as Doppler shift of sound, light from two arms of the galaxy will be blue-shifted and red-shifted about the central wavelength. A lopsided or biased gas distribution in the galaxy i.e more gas away from the central region also helps such a profile, along with a large rotation curve. Such double peaked profiles are usually observed in the HI emission line profiles of galaxies.

My intentions now are to simulate such a double-peaked profile by assuming an inclination, a gas distribution and a rotation curve. I am of the idea that the double-peaked profile in itself might reveal interesting features about a galaxy using relevant models. I have a thesis by a Erica Nelson as reference on 'HI line profiles of galaxies : Tilted ring models'. I could try extend this to understand how the H \alpha line would look under similar assumptions. This is an interesting tangent of my project that I would like to pursue ...

### Animation using GNUPlot

Animation using GNUPlotI've been trying to create an animation depicting a quasar spectrum moving across the 5 SDSS pass bands with respect to redshift. It is important to visualise what emission lines are moving in and out of bands to be able to understand the color-redshift plots and the changes in it.
I've tried doing this using the animate function in matplotlib, python but i wasn't able to make it work - meaning i worked on it for a couple of days and then i gave up, not having found solutions for my problems on the internet.
And then i came across this site, where the gunn-peterson trough and the lyman alpha forest have been depicted - in a beautiful manner. And this got me interested in using js and d3 to do the animations and make it dynamic - using sliders etc.
In the meanwhile, i thought i'd look up and see if there was a way to create animations in gnuplot and whoopdedoo, what do i find but nirvana!

In the image, you see 5 static curves and one dynam…

### on MOOCs.

For those of you who don't know, MOOC stands for Massively Open Online Course.

The internet is an awesome thing. It's making education free for all. Well, mostly free. But it's surprising at the width and depth of courses being offered online. And it looks like they are also having an impact on students, especially those from universities that are not top ranked. Students in all parts of the world can now get a first class education experience, thanks to courses offered by Stanford, MIT, Caltech, etc.

I'm talking about MOOCs because one of my new year resolutions is to take online courses, atleast 2 per semester (6 months). And I've chosen the following two courses on edX - Analyzing Big Data with Microsoft R Server and Data Science Essentials for now. I looked at courses on Coursera but I couldn't find any which was worthy and free. There are a lot more MOOC providers out there but let's start here. And I feel like the two courses are relevant to where I …

### On programmers.

I just watched this brilliant keynote today. It's a commentary on Programmers and the software development industry/ecosystem as a whole.

I am not going to give you a tl;dr version of the talk because it is a talk that I believe everyone should watch, that everyone should learn from. Instead, I am going to give my own parallel-ish views on programmers and programming.
As pointed out in the talk, there are mythical creatures in the software development industry who are revered as gods. Guido Van Rossum, the creator of Python, was given the title Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL). People flock around the creators of popular languages or libraries. They are god-like to most programmers and are treated like gods. By which, I mean to say, we assume they don't have flaws. That they are infallible. That they are perfect.
And alongside this belief in the infallibility of these Gods, we believe that they were born programmers. That programming is something that people are born wit…