Geography & Religion Address at Radboud on the occasion of being given a doctorate (April 8, 2015).
Fritz Zwicky is one of my three heroes in academia. His achievements in astronomy, IMNHO, are legendary and perhaps only comparable to Oort and Zeldovich. Unfortunately, he could not stand lesser mortals (which, in reality, meant all the other astronomers) and so made enemies rapidly. I realized that there will never be a spacecraft named after him nor any major facility (e.g. LSST) and so I took the occasion to name the biggest project I have undertaken for Zwicky. See Deutschlandfunk (German radio). Zwicky Unit translated by by A. Rau. In honor of Zwicky, I took the opportunity to name PTF Phase III as the Transient Facility. On the eve I gave a talk on steps leading to ZTF.
For a while I had this statement on my web page "Given a sufficiently large telescope, a sufficiently idiotic astronomer can make a sufficiently great discovery." I took this down when somehow many colleagues around me thought I was taking about them. Leaving aside the school boy humor (the modern word is, I suppose, teenage humor), the fact remains that higher sensitivity opens up phase space and discoveries generally emerge. However, astronomy is a very rich subject. With cleverness one can make discoveries with small facilities. Read Air & Space Magazine (Big & Small Science)   |   doc file (not high quality)   |   pdf version (note pdf version is hard to view)   |   text file
Contrarians are needed to rebalance the world :
The 2015 Meeting
The 2016 Meeting
Finally, my thoughts on mentoring. I was forced to write an essay when when my dear friend Sterl Phinney nominated me for Nature mentorship award. I did not win but the "essay" made me think a bit about mentoring.