Archive for January 22, 2014

Hot News! Supernova in M82

Posted in The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , , on January 22, 2014 by telescoper

Very exciting news today – a supernova has gone off in Messier 82. In fact, according to this sequence of images from Japan it actually started to brighten about a week ago:

psn-m82

Being arranged in Japanese fashion, you have to read these from top to bottom but starting at the right, so the supernova can be seen to be steadily brightening, i.e. decreasing in magnitude from 17.0 to 11.9. That means it’s now visible with binoculars and will have been seen already by many amateur astronomers. The exciting question this time is whether we’ll get any neutrinos from it!

UPDATE: I’m told that, close as it is, M82 is probably too far to detect neutrinos. Boo.

This is the nearest supernova since 1987a which was observed in, er, 1987. This is the nearest Type Ia supernova for a very long time (possibly 1937), so it’s of considerable interest for the use of such objects in cosmology. There have been other close ones since the nearest one I can remember, 1987a, which was observed in, er, 1987 but all have been Type II.

UPDATE: Thanks for the people who pointed out my error which I’ve left in to show that I don’t know much about supernovae so you shouldn’t phone me up to ask.

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Tutorial 27: how to publish an open-access paper in a paywalled journal

Posted in Open Access on January 22, 2014 by telescoper

Some tips on how to get your paper published open-access despite a publisher’s paywall. Personally, I think you should go direct to Step 5…

Sauropod Vertebra Picture of the Week

I got in a conversation recently with a friend who is about to have his first paper published. It’s been through review and is now accepted at a well-respected old-school journal owned by a legacy publisher. It’s not an open-access journal, and he asked my advice on how he could make the paper open access.

We had a fruitful discussion, and we agreed that I’d write up the conclusions for this blog.

First, you can pay the publisher to open-access your paper. That’s a legitimate option at “hybrid OA” journals, which by this point is pretty much all paywalled journals. But even when the journal invites it, that’s not always possible. In this case, my friend has no institutional funds available, and really isn’t in a position to bung the publisher $3000 out of his own pocket.

The second option is to write to the journal saying that you select the…

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Aubade

Posted in Literature with tags , , on January 22, 2014 by telescoper

I work all day, and get half drunk at night.
Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare.
In time the curtain edges will grow light.
Till then I see what’s really always there:
Unresting death, a whole day nearer now,
Making all thought impossible but how
And where and when I shall myself die.
Arid interrogation: yet the dread
Of dying, and being dead,
Flashes afresh to hold and horrify.

The mind blanks at the glare. Not in remorse
– The good not used, the love not given, time
Torn off unused – nor wretchedly because
An only life can take so long to climb
Clear of its wrong beginnings, and may never:
But at the total emptiness forever,
The sure extinction that we travel to
And shall be lost in always. Not to be here,
Not to be anywhere,
And soon; nothing more terrible, nothing more true.

This is a special way of being afraid
No trick dispels. Religion used to try,
That vast moth-eaten musical brocade
Created to pretend we never die,
And specious stuff that says no rational being
Can fear a thing it cannot feel, not seeing
that this is what we fear – no sight, no sound,
No touch or taste or smell, nothing to think with,
Nothing to love or link with,
The anaesthetic from which none come round.

And so it stays just on the edge of vision,
A small unfocused blur, a standing chill
That slows each impulse down to indecision
Most things may never happen: this one will,
And realisation of it rages out
In furnace fear when we are caught without
People or drink. Courage is no good:
It means not scaring others. Being brave
Lets no-one off the grave.
Death is no different whined at than withstood.

Slowly light strengthens, and the room takes shape.
It stands plain as a wardrobe, what we know,
Have always known, know that we can’t escape
Yet can’t accept. One side will have to go.
Meanwhile telephones crouch, getting ready to ring
In locked-up offices, and all the uncaring
Intricate rented world begins to rouse.
The sky is white as clay, with no sun.
Work has to be done.
Postmen like doctors go from house to house.

by Philip Larkin (1922-1985).