Archive for January 20, 2014

R.I.P. Claudio Abbado

Posted in Music with tags , , , , on January 20, 2014 by telescoper

I’ve just heard the very sad news that the great Italian conductor Claudio Abbado has passed away at the age of 80. No words of mine can pay adequate tribute to his wonderful career. He leaves a rich legacy of recordings which can speak more eloquently than I could ever do and he will live on through them and through the memories of those who attended live performances he conducted. Here is a superb example, a recording of  a sublime performance one of the five Rückert-Lieder by Gustav Mahler (“Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen“) featuring the Lucerne Festival Orchestra under Abbado’s direction, and the gorgeous voice of mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kožená. Rest in peace, Maestro Claudio Abbado.


Cosmology and the Constants of Nature

Posted in The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , on January 20, 2014 by telescoper

Just a brief post to advertise a very interesting meeting coming up in Cambridge:


Cosmology and the Constants of Nature

DAMTP, University of Cambridge

Monday, 17 March 2014 at 09:00 – Wednesday, 19 March 2014 at 15:00 (GMT)

Cambridge, United Kingdom

The Constants of Nature are quantities, whose numerical values we know with the greatest experimental accuracy – but about the rationale for those values, we have the greatest ignorance. We might also ask if they are indeed constant in space and time, and investigate whether their values arise at random or are uniquely determined by some deep theory.

This mini-series of talks is part of the joint Oxford-Cambridge programme on the Philosophy of Cosmology which aims to introduce philosophers of physics to fundamental problems in cosmology and associated areas of high-energy physics.

The talks are aimed at philosophers of physics but should also be of interest to a wide range of cosmologists.  Speakers will introduce the physical constants that define the standard model of particle physics and cosmology together with the data that determine them, describe observational programmes that test the constancy of traditional ʽconstantsʼ, including the cosmological constant, and discuss how self-consistent theories of varying constants can be formulated.


John Barrow, University of Cambridge

John Ellis, King’s College London

Pedro Ferreira, University of Oxford

Joao Magueijo, Imperial College, London

Thanu Padmanabhan, IUCAA, Pune

Martin Rees, University of Cambridge

John Webb, University of New South Wales, Sydney

Registration is free and includes morning coffee and lunch. Participants are requested to register at the conference website where the detailed programme of talks can be found:

For enquiries about this event please contact Margaret Bull at