Jason S. Best



pre-doctorate education: Indiana University B.S. Major: Astronomy/Astrophysics Minor: Mathematics (1992)

Doctorate education: Pennsylvania State University Ph. D. Astronomy & Astrophysics (1997)
thesis: Use of the Pointwise Dimension in an Analysis of Galaxy Clustering; advisor:

current employment. Assistant Professor of Astrophysics, SHEPHERD COLLEGE Shepherdstown, WV

web page: http://webpages.shepherd.edu/jbest/
email: jbest@shepherd.edu

 Dr. Jason S. Best is assistant professor of astrophysics at Shepherd College in West Virginia. He got his Ph.D. in astronomy and astrophysicists at Pennsylvania State University and subsequently taught at Indiana University. He has published 3 or 4 papers and specializes in fractal cosmology and virtual reality. He is a former National Negro Merit scholar and a full member the National Society of Black Physicists.


Dr. Best's research attempts to address two fundamental problems in cosmology:

  1. On the largest scales, the Universe is believed to be everywhere homogeneous and isotropic: this is the Copernican cosmological principle. It is evidentially verified by such observations as the isotropy of the cosmic microwave background, the x-ray background, and the number counts of radio sources. However, on smaller scales, the universe is certainly not homogeneous: galaxies are observed to be distributed not at random, but clustered with respect to each other. Any theory of structure formation must take this disparity on multiple scales into account.
  2. For some time it has been known that the morphological fractions of ellipticals, lenticulars, and spirals are related to the density of the environment. The fraction of ellipticals ranges from less than 10% in the lowest density environments to more than 50% in the centers of galaxy clusters. It is still not apparent whether this is a result of conditions conducive to formation of a particular morphological type (nature) or to an evolutionary process (nurture).

The particular behavior of astronomical clustering on multiple scales suggests that the concepts of fractal geometry may apply. The modern motivation for fractal geometry may best be summed up by this quote of Benoit Mandelbrot: ``Mountains are not cones, clouds are not spheres, coastlines are not circles, and bark is not smooth, nor does lightning travel in a straight line''. Fractals are, in simplest terms, objects which are (approximately) self-similar on all scales.

Dr. Best's research focuses on the use of the pointwise dimension (which is based on fractal geometry) to understand both the large-scale structure of the universe and the connection between galaxy morphology and environment.


  1. Best, Jason, Maene, Sara, and Usher, Peter. Copernicus's Neglected Successor, Astronomical Society of the Pacific's Mercury --magazine in the September/October issue, Vol. 30., No. 5, p. 38
  2. Best, Jason. An Examination of the Large-Scale Clustering of the Las Campanas Redshift Survey, Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 541, p. 519
  3. Maene, Sara and Best, Jason. The Universe in your Browser. Silicon Graphics World 9 in the September 1999 issue, p. 12
  4. Best, Jason S. Analyzing the Dressler Catalog Using the Pointwise Dimension. Astrophysical Journal 520 in the August 1 1999 issue, Vol., p. 507
  5. Best, Jason S., Charlton, Jane C., and Mayer-Kress, G. Analysis of Galactic Morphology and Evolution using the Pointwise Dimension. Astrophysical Journal 456, p. 55

references: Fikes: From Banneker to Best: Some Stellar Careers In Astronomy and Astrophysics;

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