Anthony Smith

I'm an educator and published researcher in Sydney, with job descriptions and duties ranging from tutor to teacher to lecturer depending on who I'm working for and what they want me to do. Currently I work at Southern Cross University's Sydney Campus on behalf of EduCo, and at the Ryde Branch of CS Education. My academic background is in Mathematics and Physics, which resulted in my finest work to date, what I did for my MSc (thesis, or if you prefer, pictures). But I will do much better!

There are two places to go from here. Below is news of my most recent exploits, updated about once a year. There is also a fairly long page here about me - pretty self-indulgent, really. Nothing else to see on this site . . . or at least, nothing you can see. I can be reached via astroant@hotmail.com .



about these images



Recent News

2017: Panic In Detroit: Updating my current image for the first time in six years:




On the left is how I looked in 2011, six years ago (I was an idiot back then), and on the right is how I now look, age 33 (why so serious?). Older than what I long regarded as old (but I feel just like I did when I was 20 for some reason). I'm pretty sure my skin colour hasn't changed, I guess lighting and camera response can make that much of a difference. I don't have any hair now - it was annoying me while swimming, so I shaved it all off. Then my head felt exposed (especially in the wind), so I had to wear something instead of hair, but what?

Looking to my hero for inspiration, I remembered this image of David Bowie (which I first saw at Chris O'Leary's blog here):




And I liked the look. At the time (not looking closely), I thought that was a beret, so I decided to wear a beret in lieu of hair. A black beret. I went to a hat shop looking for one and found they didn't have any berets, so I got the next-best thing and wore it back-to-front. Most people think it's a beret, so it does the job. Bowie looks so content in that shot, and I'm quite content myself.

Maybe the novelty will wear off eventually, but for now that thing is glued to my dome. If I take it off at this point, people might not recognise me! Most people (including those who stop me in the street to say `I like your hat') seem to like it, or are polite enough to say they do. Someone said I look like a Russian, which I sometimes get anyway for being a Eurasian. But no-one thinks I look like Che Guevara, so I fail at that, making it my "Panic In Detroit" look.

What I like best is that it didn't stop SCU Sydney from putting me on their facebook page (so it can't be too bad?) or from putting me in front of 175 students:







. . . yeah, I work there now. I wonder - now that I wear a black almost-beret, am I more like black hat:








. . . or beret guy?**





If I'm a cross between the two, at least my plan for world domination will be hilariously innocuous****. In other news, I might have finally decided what my favourite Bowie songs are. It depends on how many I'm allowed to choose. If just one favourite, it's "The Dreamers" ('hours . . .'; Omikron: The Nomad Soul longer version).

If I'm allowed to pick ten, they are (in chronological order):
    "Cygnet Committee" (Space Oddity)
    "Sweet Thing/Candidate/Sweet Thing (Reprise)" (Diamond Dogs, iSelect)
    "Station to Station" (Station To Station)
    " 'Heroes' " ('Heroes')
    "Hallo Spaceboy" (1. Outside, Nothing Has Changed; version featuring the Pet Shop Boys)
    "Something In The Air" ('hours . . .')
    "The Dreamers" ('hours . . .'; Omikron: The Nomad Soul longer version)
    "New Killer Star" (Reality)
    "Love Is Lost" (The Next Day Extra EP; the extended version (10:25) of the Hello Steve Reich mix is most interesting, but The Next Day's original version is the one I've cried over)
    "Dollar Days" (Blackstar)

If I'm allowed to pick thirty, they are (in chronological order):
    "Cygnet Committee" (Space Oddity)
    "Conversation Piece" (2002 Re-Recorded version for Heathen digital edition)
    "Queen Bitch" (Hunky Dory)
    "All The Young Dudes" (Nothing Has Changed; the Mott the Hoople version is also pretty cool)
    "Sweet Thing/Candidate/Sweet Thing (Reprise)" (Diamond Dogs, iSelect)
    "Win" (Young Americans)
    "Station to Station" (Station To Station)
    "Golden Years" (Station To Station)
    "Sound and Vision" (Low)
    " 'Heroes' " ('Heroes')
    "Absolute Beginners" (Absolute Beginners soundtrack, Nothing Has Changed)
    "Jump They Say" (Black Tie White Noise)
    "The Mysteries" (The Buddha of Suburbia)
    "Dead Against It" (The Buddha of Suburbia)
    "The Hearts Filthy Lesson" (1. Outside)
    "Hallo Spaceboy" (1. Outside, Nothing Has Changed; version featuring the Pet Shop Boys)
    "The Motel" (1. Outside)
    "Thru' These Architects Eyes" (1. Outside)
    "Thursday's Child" ('hours . . .')
    "Something In The Air" ('hours . . .')
    "Survive" ('hours . . .')
    "No One Calls" ('hours . . .' Expanded Edition)
    "The Dreamers" ('hours . . .'; Omikron: The Nomad Soul longer version)
    "Slip Away" (Heathen)
    "Slow Burn" (Heathen)
    "New Killer Star" (Reality)
    "Fall Dog Bombs the Moon" (live from A Reality Tour)
    "Love Is Lost" (The Next Day Extra EP; the extended version (10:25) of the Hello Steve Reich mix is most interesting, but The Next Day's original version is the one I've cried over)
    "How Does The Grass Grow?" (The Next Day)
    "Dollar Days" (Blackstar)

My favourite album is 'hours . . .'. My favourite seven albums are***:
    Station To Station (1976)
    'Heroes' (1977)
    The Buddha of Suburbia (1993)
    1. Outside (1995)
    'hours . . .' (1999)
    The Next Day (2013)
    Blackstar (2016)


**I was going to show this comic but thought better of it. Why do I care about political correctness here? Isn't this my website where I can do whatever I want?

***can't I just enjoy stuff without making these stupid lists? No, absolutely not.

****comics from xkcd

2016 It wasn't so long ago that I didn't listen to any music by vocal artists. But my favourite movie, Memento, features a David Bowie song at the end, Something In The Air. That is exactly the sort of song to hook one to an artist, because it's amazing. Soon after that, "Station To Station" blew my mind. So I became a David Bowie fan - he is the first, and possibly only, vocal artist I will ever know well.

The problem with vocal music, and a large part of why I did not listen to it, is that the music must bend to fit the lyrics. And if music truly means without words, much of its potential to move is lost. But what if a vocal artist had the skill to write lyrics flexible enough to leave the music as unbent as possible? If that artist could bend the lyrics to fit the music instead? I've decided that this is the strength of Bowie's abstract lyrics: that he is not constrained to literal exposition - and there are further possibilities allowed by this approach.

Goodbye David Bowie - heroic artistry, right to the very end. I'm not a musician, but if there is anyone I wish I could be like, it's you - it's the spirit of what you did. I'm your dreamer. Perhaps even your blackstar, in my own way.

EDITed to add: I later figured out what my favourite Bowie songs are - look above, or below, depending on how these posts are organised.

DEC 2015 So here I am, in this new place. Maybe later I'll explain the etymology of this domain name.

JAN 2012 This may shock you, but I actually have some science to post here. Our algorithm, Multiscale Probability Mapping (MSPM; formerly known as algorithm X) has been applied to SDSS DR7 to create a catalogue of 10443 galaxy groups and clusters and 53 filaments. Another way to think of this is that we have coarse-grained the galaxy distribution, providing a way to identify cosmic superstructures (filaments in the current application) as unions of groups and clusters. There are pros and cons to coarse-graining at this level rather than the galaxies; some information is lost but some of that information was noise, and noise can throw off algorithms looking for the non-trivial shapes of cosmic superstructure.

Details are in our paper, and pictures are here. As far as we know, no other algorithm has managed a false discovery rate of less than a half for filaments in real data, and we can do a pretty good job with voids this way too. I wrestled with the filament-finding problem for quite some time and am happy about how things have gone. Oh, and this is not the ``stroke of brilliance" I pompously foreshadowed last month, that's something else.

Er, and nor was finding these filaments the hideously stupid act I mentioned; that is a joke I'd love to tell but here's a secret I might actually keep!

DEC 2011 `Accepted 2011 December 15. Received 2011 December 15' plus sweet silence equals . . . something well that's just curious, I guess.

Star Control's Pkunk said that one's good deeds should be balanced by mischief now and again, lest one get so good as to turn completely evil. My version of this is that any hideously stupid act should be balanced by a stroke of brilliance. So here goes.

Places I Like
My raja, The Backwards Traveller
Star Control
xkcd
Doom

About the images at the top of this page
Row-by-row and left to right: me in 2017, me in front of a whiteboard, me with a bunch of teacher graduates, a panel from
this xkcd comic, me in 2011, me at Manning Bar (Sydney Uni), and the title image from my MSc thesis. Oh, and the background image for this page? That's a procedurally-generated stellar background (artwork for a computer game remake, of Star Control) that I wrote the code for - here's what it looks like.


astroant@hotmail.com

Fear not the Arch Viles and Spectres of the Deepest Reaches,
For the X is strong in this place.


Last Updated - 2017

Star Control:
Ultronomicon


The galaxy teems with threatening monsters.
May the Ultron be with you.