Pixelbook

When this NASA astronomer uses Pixelbook, the sky’s the limit

Nicholas Scott's job is out of this world. He’s an astronomer working with NASA, and he uses Pixelbook for everything from servicing telescopes on the  road to drawing maps for “Dungeons and Dragons” with Pixelbook Pen. Below, Nic shares how Pixelbook helps him get his job done.

Working at a NASA facility must be exciting, tell us about your work.

I work in high angular resolution imaging at NASA, including speckle imaging and long-baseline optical interferometry.  

Explain what that means for the non-astronomers among us.

Looking up from the ground, the atmosphere acts like a giant ocean and the turbulence in the ocean of air above us distorts the incoming light from stars. This leads to blurry and corrupted astronomical images, but speckle imaging can eliminate that by capturing images faster than the turbulence in the atmosphere can change. Another technique I use is long-baseline optical interferometry, which links up a bunch of small telescopes to create one one giant telescope. These techniques allow you to observe stars and stellar systems and in great detail. With this work, I travel to places like Chile and to the summit of Mauna Kea in Hawaii to service and build telescope instruments.

What’s your typical day like and why do you carry a Pixelbook with you?

It’s hard to know what my day is going to be like. I travel extensively, and I’m gone up to 70 percent of the time between conferences, meetings, and working on telescopes. Technology is completely infused throughout my day, and I need something that is lightweight, has good battery life, and good build quality that I can carry around everywhere. I also love that I only have to carry one charger because I can charge my phone with the same charger as my Pixelbook.

Nic with Pixelbook.jpeg

How does it make your day more productive?

It makes my workflow easy because I can have multiple tabs and apps open at the same time. I love that I don't get interrupted by program updates or trying to configure a new installation. Since I travel often, I do a lot of work out of coffee shops, and I don't have to worry about where the nearest plug is. Overall, I do everything from answering emails, developing software, running a laser cutter, and even drawing maps for Dungeons and Dragons right on my Pixelbook.


What are your favorite things about Pixelbook?

My favorite thing about Pixelbook is the ability to run Linux on it—everyone needs to know about this. It allows me to run a secure development environment to code. (You can get started using the Chrome Developer Toolbox).


Outside of astronomy, what are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about travel (particularly to remote regions of Southeast Asia), motorcycling, environmentalism and conservation, photography, and tabletop gaming.


Any advice for young astronomers?

Find what you're passionate about and dedicate yourself to that goal. Look for every opportunity you can to enable you to reach it. Be adaptable and driven, but know you will have to make some hard compromises and sacrifices to be successful. In my path, I had to take several chances to get to this stage of my career and this required a balance between listening and taking advice from people I respected and directly going against their advice to do what I felt was best for me.