Parisian Thoroughfare

Posted in Jazz with tags , on December 14, 2014 by telescoper

Ahead of my short trip to Paris tomorrow, of which more anon, I thought I’d post this wonderful performance by quintessential bebop pianist Bud Powell of his own composition, Parisian Thoroughfare. This track comes from the same B;ue Note album The Amazing Bud Powell as the version of Over The Rainbow I posted recently, which is one of the most played on my iPod. I hope you like this,

Art Quiz

Posted in Art with tags , on December 14, 2014 by telescoper


I have acquired (for safe keeping) the plaster-cast portrait bust shown in the above image. Anyone care to guess (a) who it is and (b) which artist made it? Hint: there is a physics theme….

Answers through the comments box please!

Campaigners back Beard Baubles for Christmas

Posted in Uncategorized on December 13, 2014 by telescoper


Oh! You’re supposed to wear these in your beard….!

Originally posted on Kmflett's Blog:

  • Beard Liberation Front

    Press release

    10th December                                                                                                  07803 167266


    The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has backed the new Christmas trend for Beard Baubles.

    The Baubles, Christmas decorations which will hang in organic or hipster beards, are in aid of a men’s health charity.

    The BLF says that unlike the absurd false bearded Santas to be seen in High Streets at this time of year, the Beard Baubles demand a genuine beard and are seasonal fun.

    The campaigners caution however that the traditional practice of placing a sprig of mistletoe in the beard should not be ignored

    BLF Organiser Keith Flett said, Beard Baubles emphasise how important facial hair has become in modern society and Beard Baubles are a bit of Xmas fun in aid of an important health charity. We say, if it feels good, do it.


View original 33 more words

The Submarines of Burlington House

Posted in Art, Biographical on December 12, 2014 by telescoper


I’m in London for the Monthly Open Meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society, followed by dinner with the Club. I just popped into the courtyard of Burlington House in front of the Royal Academy of Arts to see what was going on, and I found this giant fish tank full of tiny rusty submarines. Not sure what it represents but at least It makes a change! It’s part of an exhibition by Anselm Kiefer, apparently.

Planck Talks Online!

Posted in The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , , on December 11, 2014 by telescoper

After yesterday’s frivolity, I return to community service mode today with a short post before a series of end-of-term meetings.

You may recall that not long ago  I posted an item about a meeting in Ferrara which started on 1st December and which  concerned results from the Planck satellite. Well, although the number of new results was disappointingly limited, all the talks given at that meeting are now available online here. Not all of the talks are about new Planck results, and some of those that do are merely tasters of things that will be more completely divulged in due course, but there is still a lot of interesting material there so I recommend cosmology types have a good look through. Any comments would be welcome through the usual channel below.

I’ll take this opportunity to pass on another couple of related items. First is that there is another meeting on Planck, in Paris next week. Coincidentally, I will be in Paris on Monday and Tuesday for a completely unrelated matter (of which more anon) but I will try to keep up with the cosmology business via Twitter etc and pass on whatever I can pick up.

The other bit of news is that there is to be a press conference on December 22nd at which I’m led to believe the outcome of the joint analysis of CMB polarization by Planck and BICEP2 will be unveiled. Now that will be interesting, so stay tuned!

Oh, and my poll on this subject is still open:



Head of School’s Christmas Message to MPS

Posted in Uncategorized on December 10, 2014 by telescoper

Since today is the occasion of Yuletide  prandial celebrations for both the Department of Mathematics and the Department of Physics & Astronomy, I wonder if I might crave the momentary indulgence of all staff within the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, of which said Departments are constituents, in order to discharge a by no means disagreeable obligation which has, over the years, become more or less established practice in the University as we approach the terminal period of the year — calendar, of course, not financial, nor indeed academic — in fact, not to put too fine a point on it, the interregnum between the First Teaching Block and the First Assessment Period — and submit to you, with all appropriate deference, for your consideration at a convenient juncture, a sincere and sanguine expectation — indeed confidence — indeed one might go so far as to say hope — that the aforementioned period may be, at the end of the day, when all relevant factors have been taken into consideration, susceptible to being deemed to be such as to merit a final verdict of having been by no means unsatisfactory in its overall outcome and, in the final analysis, to give grounds for being judged, on mature reflection, to have been conducive to generating a degree of gratification which will be seen in retrospect to have been significantly higher than the general average.

In other words, Happy Christmas!


P.S.  This message is adapated from the television series Yes, Professor Minister...


Lying is an Occupation

Posted in Poetry, Politics with tags , , on December 10, 2014 by telescoper
Lying is an occupation,
     Used by all who mean to rise;
Politicians owe their station,
     But to well concerted lies.
These to lovers give assistance,
     To ensnare the fair-one’s heart;
And the virgin’s best resistance
     Yields to this commanding art.
Study this superior science,
     Would you rise in Church or State;
Bid to Truth a bold defiance,
     ‘Tis the practice of the great.

by Laetitia Pilkington (1709-1750)



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