Jonathan Thornburg's Home Page

I'm a research scientist in the Department of Astronomy and (since fall 2010) a member of the Center for Spacetime Symmetries, at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, USA.

From March 2007 through August 2008, I was a lecturer in the General Relativity group in the School of Mathematics at the University of Southampton, located (naturally enough!) in Southampton, England (United Kingdom).

From spring 2001 through February 2007, I was a postdoc in the numerical relativity group at the Albert-Einstein-Institut (Max Planck Institut für Gravitationsphysik), or AEI, located in Potsdam (a suburb of Berlin), Germany. My stay at the AEI was partially funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and partially by AEI.

From fall 1998 through spring 2001 I was a postdoc in the Relativity Group in the Institute for Theoretical Physics (Institute für Theoretische Physik) at the University of Vienna (Universität Wien), in Vienna (Wien), Austria (Österreich).

In 1992 and 1993 was a research associate and postdoc in the Center for Relativity at the University of Texas at Austin.

Short table of contents for my work pages:

Weather for Thetis or Anacortes Island (marine), Bloomington, Southampton, Potsdam [Web page in German], Leipzig [Web page in German].

Potsdam-area business directory

Deutsch Bahn English-language query page (gives train/tram/bus connections & timetables anywhere in Europe)
Street maps for anywhere in Germany
Online telephone book for all of Germany

UK National Rail Enquiries (trip planner for UK rail system) and National Express Coaches (intercity bus system)
London Underground trip planner

Automatic (computerized) language translation:

Exchange Rates for various currencies

How to talk to a human in various (mostly US) companies' irritating voice-menu telephone systems

Contact Information

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(The obfuscation is to deter spammer robots which search through web pages to find E-mail addresses. Sigh...)

   Jonathan Thornburg
   Dept. of Astronomy
   Swain Hall West, Room 319
   Indiana University
   727 East 3rd Street
   Bloomington  Indiana  47405-7105

My office is in room 312.

Miscellaneous Stuff

If you're looking for "black marks on paper" books, Powells is a pretty good online bookstore (which also has several "bricks and mortar" stores in Portland, USA). Unlike Amazon and some other online bookstores, they haven't tried to patent assorted obvious ideas as a way of stifiling potential competitors, and they don't send spam E-mails. Their search page works moderately well, though I've found titles are sometimes misspelled. They offer free shipping worldwide for orders over US$50, too!

For used books, I have had favorable experiences with

In Germany, I have personally had good experiences with Their search page seems to be ok. They usually offer free shipping in Germany for orders over 20 Euros. Friends have also spoken highly of

Eric S. Raymond's The Jargon File, a huge compendium of slang and in-group speech used by computer wizards and related people. Lots of fun reading here!

Glen Petitpas's list of true Dumb Or Overly Forced Astronomical Acronyms (DOOFAAs) and William Keel's list of true funny quotes from astronomy papers are both good for some chuckles.

Phil Koopman's How to Write an Abstract
A very nice short essay on how to write the abstract of a scientific paper, and why it's so important to do this well.

Robert Geroch's Suggestions for Giving Talks,
Kenneth Suslick's Seminar on Seminars (also available in PDF format (695KB)),
Heather R. (Scott) Theijsmeijer's Powerpoint in the Classroom, and
Gavin Polhemus's Qualifying Exam for Conference Speakers
The first three of these are short tutorials on various aspects of how to give a scientific talk, whether to an informal seminar, or to a wider audience. The last... is left as an exercise for the reader. :)

Etiquette for the Internet
Every new internet user should be familiar with these guidlines, which summarize some of the basic "cultural conventions" widely accepted on the internet.

Two amusing and thought-provoking essays by Thomas Scoville:

Date Formats
What date does "02/03/04" mean? That depends:

So, if you're writing for any but a very local audience, you should use an unambiguous date format such as the ISO Standard one (where, for example, the first atomic bomb was exploded on 1945-07-16). Among other advantages, this is language-independent. If you want a spelled-out month name, then reasonable possibilities might be "16-Jul-1945" or "1945-Jul-16" (or maybe omit the hyphens from these).

icon of a And finally, here's a brilliant new keyboard design, specially optimized to support the full functionality of Microsoft's software...

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