Remember how yesterday I was complaining that nothing interesting was going on? Well, this wasn’t what I meant (*shaking fist to the sky*).

Some background: me and one other group in the USA (we’ll call them Frickin’AmanzingCometFinders – FACF for short) are both looking for these very strange and rare comets.

When I started my PhD in 2005, there had only been two of these comets found, and not much had been done to study them. Other investigators had done extensive searches for other such objects, but nothing had turned up. So, I was pretty stoked when I started because there was a good chance I was going to find one, and even if I didn’t I could put some sweet upper limits on the expected number (that’s considered a good result in Astronomy).

Six months after I started, a paper came out of the FACF group: they not only studied the two known rare comets extensively, but found another one — and published their results in Science.

Shit, right? I had an emergency meeting with my advisory committee to decide whether I should keep plugging along with this project or switch to something else. We decided, since my methods were different from theirs, that I should just keep going. And that I did.

I now have two different methods that I’ve used to search for these damn things. The first one I looked at 11,000 objects and found maybe, perhaps (but really unlikely) one more. BUT – the observations were done in 2007, so we couldn’t recover the object. It is lost.

The other project is the dreaded project #3 that I’ve posted about before. You know, where the data totally sucks because I took it in my first year here and I had no idea what I was doing? Yeah.

Today, I get my daily message from the NASA ADS system listing new papers that I might be interested in. What do I see? Yeah, that’s right, another paper from the FACF group — they found another one. Shit.


Comments on: "Shit." (3)

  1. My heart goes out to you, Mrs. Comet Hunter! A similar thing happened to me recently. I was all excited about my research until one day I stumbled upon a paper, and as I excitedly but worriedly read the abstract and the introduction, I realized that these researchers had already solved my problem. I should have been excited, but I couldn’t help feeling disappointed. It totally thew me off and I didn’t know if my work was worth anything anymore. But, then a couple of days later, I got the courage to read the paper again, and it turned out that they hadn’t solved my problem, only a variant of it. Their work helped me to better define my own topic and give me better focus.Anyway, I hope that you can find a way to make it through despite this setback. Either that, or I hope that they made a humungous error and you can swoosh in with your superior method and save the world! heh heh 😉 Keep your head up!


  2. Ugh, so sorry! Keep heart, though, you never know what could happen.


  3. Well, either way, there’s nothing I can do now. I’m right at the end, and I’m sure the heck not going to start a brand new project now.The good thing is that two of my projects worked out nicely – the one with 11,000 objects was awesome, even though I didn’t really find anything. I also have another one on the go right now that is about active comets.Anyway, it’s really not that big of a deal. The group found 1 more, but that doesn’t mean my stuff is obsolete 🙂


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