Archive for June 8, 2009

Notes from the North

Posted in Biographical, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , on June 8, 2009 by telescoper

Just time for a quick post today. I’m in Copenhagen for a short meeting entitled “Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics from the LHC to Planck“. The meeting only lasts today and tomorrow morning, but it’s been a lot of fun so far and has offered me the chance to chat with a lot of people I don’t often get the chance to talk to.

I suppose the only thing from the meeting I really want to mention in this short post is the  current status of Planck, which is currently about a million km from Earth. Both instruments (the High Frequency Instrument HFI and Low Frequency Instrument LFI) are still performing fine and the satellite,  having now been injected into its rather large orbit around L2, is  cooling down to its operating temperature. So far so good. There will be more tests at the beginning of July, after which it will start its real business of scanning the sky to make maps of the primordial temperature  fluctuations.

Today I gave my (usual) talk about cosmic anomalies (which I’ve blogged about before), but there were also interesting talks about possible interpretation of the positron excess observed in the direction of the Galactic Centre,  on a model of anisotropic dark energy  and a wacky contribution by Igor Novikov about semi-traversible wormholes.

Meanwhile, over lunch and dinner the various European participants of the meeting mulled over the results from the elections to the European parliament which completed yesterday.

The results generally showed a move to the right across Europe. In the United Kingdom this also happened, as the Labour Party’s share of the vote collapsed to just under 16%. I’m not going to shed any tears for them, but I am shamed to admit that my country will now be represented in the European Parliament by two members of the British National Party – a bunch of neo-Nazi thugs who are doing the best they can for their own ends to exploit peoples’ discontent with the mainstream parties. Fortunately their share of the vote (about 6%, on a very low turnout) remained relatively small and was, in fact, less than that of the Green Party. Nevertheless with the 65th anniversary of D-Day only a few days ago, it is depressing that so many people have forgotten the sacrifices that previous generations made to save this country from exactly that  kind of fascist. I hope this disaster is not repeated at the next general election. This kind of monstrosity makes the arcane world of cosmology suddenly seem so irrelevant.