Observational Tests of Inflation, Durham 1990.

I came across this old picture in my office today and couldn’t resist posting it for nostalgia’s sake. It was taken at a NATO Advanced Research Workshop called Observational Tests of Inflation, which took placed in Durham in December 1990. You’ll probably need to click on the image to be able to recognize faces, but I should at least point out Sir Fred Hoyle in the turquoise jacket in the front row; I am behind in the red and white T-shirt and black waistcoat. In those days I was considered quite trendy, among cosmologists.

You can also see George Smoot, Simon White and Alan Guth sitting next to each other in the front row.

32 Responses to “Observational Tests of Inflation, Durham 1990.”

  1. “quite trendy, among cosmologists” – great phrase. Would make a great name for an album

  2. Andrew Liddle Says:

    Excellent stuff, still one of my favourite conferences ever! A bit disappointing that this photo didn’t feature somewhere in the olympic opening ceremony.


    • telescoper Says:

      I spy you lurking behind my left shoulder…

      I seem to remember this was taken the morning after our infamous night out in Newcastle; which would explain why Seb is not to be seen!

  3. …once you start putting names to faces – its amazing who would come to the frozen north back then (some of them have even come back a second time).

    i appear to be lurking over JAP’s left shoulder (adrian mellott does the same to you). is that huchra kneeling down in front of shanks?

    and why has the picture been slashed with a knife? broadhurst and huchra seem to be the focus of the attack.

    • telescoper Says:

      Haven’t you see The Omen?

      ps. Looking back, I realise I should have gone for the authentic Geordie look and worn only a T-shirt in December…

  4. some impressive physics jumpers there

  5. Tom Shanks Says:

    Durham still gets complimented on the gastronomical as well as the astronomical delights we served up for the 1990 conference! Note that about a year from now we will be serving up another cosmology conference “Ripples in the Cosmos” (see http://astro.dur.ac.uk/ripples/) where the ripples are not just BAO but hopefully also metaphorical ripples from the latest Planck and LHC DM resultsl Hope Michael Rowan-Robinson doesnt mind us pinching the title of his 1993 book…

    • telescoper Says:

      I seem to remember Donald Lynden-Bell waxing lyrical about the sticky toffee pudding…

      ..and George Smoot going a strange colour when I explained what that black pudding he was eating for breakfast was actually made of.

  6. Alan Heavens Says:

    I remember asking Fred Hoyle over breakfast at that meeting if there was any area which he regretted studying, and expected him to say E. Coli, but he surprised me by replying ‘Cosmology’.

  7. Nial Tanvir looks exactly the same today. I think he might be a time traveller…

  8. I recognize several other people (and I wasn’t even there!) I think pictures like this are quite interesting historically. Why not put up a web page of pictures like this and some other pictures you’ve posted here from various cosmology conferences together with names for the faces?

    Here is one of mine: http://www.astro.multivax.de:8001/ceres/workshop1/people.html

  9. Let’s see: Apart from those already mentioned: Gerhard Börner, Richard Ellis, Donald Lynden-Bell, Carlos Frenk, John Peacock, Bernard Carr.

  10. Some questions:

    Who is the chap with the scarf behind and to our right of Richard Ellis? Who is the chap with the big black beard to our right of Mr Scarf? Who is to our right of Alan Guth? Who is to the left and to the right of Hoyle? Who is the greybeard at the far right?

    • telescoper Says:

      To our right of Hoyle is Arnold Wolfendale; to our left is Margaret Norman (conference secretary). To our right of Guth is Hans Bohringer. Chap with scarf is Francesco Melchiorri, man with bushy beard is Yehuda Hoffman.

      Oh, and man with grey beard, whom I saw recently and who hasn’t changed at all in 22 years, is Mike Feast.

      • Hans Böhringer I didn’t recognize, but I think I’ve seen him only once at a conference. He has changed, though.

        I never met any of the others except Mike Feast, whom I’ve seen at a few conferences and who was the (first) Blaauw Professor while I was in Groningen. (While confirming this, I note that Blaauw died about a year and a half ago.) My first thought was that it looks like him, but I figured he must have looked younger in 1990. I think he is one of these people (like myself) who always looks essentially the same. When young, people comment on how old he looks. When old, people comment on how young he looks. I think Feast has always looked old, though. The difference is that now his contemporaries do as well. He’s probably conscious of this image; at a talk at the IAU General Assembly in Manchester in 2000, he remarked that he is so old he refers to galaxies as nebulae.

  11. Second left (of the picture): Ioannis Georgantopoulos. Fourth left (in front of Carlos): Gordon Stewart.

  12. […] Yesterday’s old photograph reminded me of this classic from Private Eye ages ago. It appeared originally in the Guardian (before it went all Helvetica). Sorry it’s a bit battered… […]

  13. Monica Grady Says:

    Where are all the female cosmologists? I only see two in the picture. They can’t all have been making sandwiches for the conference, can they?

    • telescoper Says:

      There really weren’t so many women working in cosmology in those days. At least this picture reminds us how times have changed.

  14. Robert Kirshner Says:

    Didn’t one of these guys just get $3 million plunked into his bank account by some Russian guy? All I get are Nigerians offering the same deal.

    • telescoper Says:

      Just this very morning I received an email from the widow of the former Kenyan Minister for Inland Drainage and Rodent Control, offering me $27 Million US Dollars.

    • I think Alan Guth is luckier than Peter in this respect:


      Nice to see a Russian billionaire investing in something other than English football. 😐

      So, next time you see Alan, let him buy you a drink. Unless you are Bob Kirshner, of course—each year’s recipients select those for next year. 🙂

      I’m not sure, but it appears that if more than one person wins the prize, they all get the full amount of 3 million or whatever. (So, we should all buy Alan a drink!)

  15. […] previous old conference photograph I posted seemed to be quite popular, so I thought I’d try an even older vintage. This was also taken […]

  16. Is there a proceedings somewhere? Would be of great interest

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