Archive for June 2, 2010

(Guest Post) FQXi

Posted in The Universe and Stuff with tags on June 2, 2010 by telescoper

I’m happy to post the following message from Brendan Foster of the Foundational Questions Institute in order to help advertise their Large Grants Program. I should make clear that I have no formal connection with this Institute so if you have any questions about the program please contact them as advised in the post. And if you wish to apply, good luck!


I’d like to announce the 2010 round of the Foundational Questions
(FQXi) Large Grants Program.  Initial applications are due
in under two weeks, so get started now!

FQXi is an independent, philanthropically funded non-profit organization.  Our mission is to catalyze, support, and disseminate research on questions at the foundations of physics and cosmology.  We want to bring special focus to new frontiers and innovative ideas integral to a deep understanding of reality, but unlikely to be supported by conventional funding sources.

As part of our mission, we now invite proposals for research on foundational questions in physics and cosmology. The focus for this grant round is “Time and Foundations”.  We wish to especially encourage projects targeted on the Nature of Time. To quote from the Request for Proposals, “The topic of Time is of both deep and broad interest for research in foundational questions in physics and cosmology. Science, and particularly physics, has produced dramatic insights into the nature of time…Careful consideration of time has
likewise caused revolutions in physics, and may again do so.”

We will also consider more general proposals of exceptional quality, including suitable outreach projects. All proposed projects should qualify as foundational and unconventional. You can get a sense of the range of supported work by checking out the funded projects from the previous grant rounds, at

The application consists of a two-step, online process, with review by an external panel of experts.  The Initial Proposal is short and simple, consisting of little more than a page of summary and a rough budget. You should have more than enough time to get ready by the Initial Proposal deadline: June 14, 2010 (midnight, EST).

We will then invite selected proposals to be expanded into Full Proposals based on the selections of the Review Panel.  Funds for approved Full Proposals will be available (via a Donor Advised Fund) soon after January 1, 2011.

To view full instructions and the application form, go to

The deadline again is Monday, June 14.

While you’re at it, visit our blog and online forums, at

You’ll find articles, essays, and discussions on foundational physics questions, including the Nature of Time.  Send any questions to us at


Discovering Copenhagen

Posted in The Universe and Stuff with tags , , on June 2, 2010 by telescoper

Here I am, again, in the fine city of Copenhagen in Denmark. It’s a lot warmer here than last time I was here, in January, but I’m here for a short meeting at the Discovery Center which we be held on the premises of the Niels Bohr Institute over the next few days.

It looks like being a funny little meeting, because  nobody is allowed to talk about any Planck results yet so most speakers are talking about extraneous matters, almost like they’ll be talking about their hobbies. Should be fun. I haven’t decided what I’ll talk about yet, but my talk isn’t until tomorrow…

I travelled yesterday from Heathrow Airport with Leonid Grishchuk who I met in the airport. It turns out he had checked in extra-specially early for the the short flight to Copenhagen. The result of this enthusiasm was that his bags didn’t arrive with the plane. After filing a lost luggage report the usually avuncular Leonid turned into grumpy Grishchuk for the short Metro journey downtown. I saw him at breakfast just now and he told me his bag had actually been delivered to the hotel late last night. All’s well that ends well. It sounds like it must have come on the later flight, which probably means it never left Heathrow.

I was worried for a while I was going to miss the flight because my train from Cardiff was late as a result of being stuck in the Swansea area behind a broken-down train. Despite the delay and the fact that only one automatic check-in machine was working at the airport, I still had plenty of time to make the flight. My bag was one of the first out of the carousel.

Our meeting doesn’t start until lunchtime, so I’m going to take a walk around and do a little sightseeing beforehand. I know the city fairly well, but it will be nice to see how things have changed over the years. If memory serves, I think the first time I came here was in 1988. Quite a few of the places I went during that time have now closed but then I’m too old now to go them anyway!