Archive for April 13, 2015

Local Politics – Brighton Kemptown

Posted in Brighton, Politics with tags , , on April 13, 2015 by telescoper

I haven’t posted much about the forthcoming General Election but I couldn’t resist making a short comment about the situation here in Brighton & Hov, which is actually quite interesting. The three constituencies in the city are all marginal: Hove, Brighton Pavilion, and Brighton Kemptown. All of these were Conservative strongholds until 1997, when they all fell to the Labour party which held them until the last General Election 2010. Hove and Brighton fell to the Conservatives in 2010 while Brighton Pavilion was taken by the UK’s only Green MP, Caroline Lucas. Much of the media attention in Brighton is focussing on the latter seat, where (surprisingly to my mind), Caroline Lucas seems set to retain her place in the House of Commons having apparently succeeded in her campaign of distancing herself from the local Green Party’s abject performance in running Brighton and Hove City Council.

I am currently living in Brighton Kemptown, a two-way marginal in which the Labour candidate (Nancy Platts) is fighting the incumbent Conservative (Simon Kirby). The seat encompasses the eastern part of Brighton and the semi-rural suburbs and villages stretching out to the east of the seat. At its western end it includes Queen`s Park ward, the centre of Brighton`s vibrant gay community, then Kemptown, the council estates of Whitehawk and Moulscoomb and then, beyond the racecourse, more affluent and genteel coastal villages like Woodingdean, Saltdean and the town of Peacehaven. At the north of the seat is Brighton University`s Falmer campus – despite Moulscoomb itself being in the constituency, Moulscoomb campus lies just over the boundary marked by the A27  in Brighton Pavilion. The University of Sussex, where I work, also has a campus at Falmer, but it is also in Brighton Pavilion.

Here is a map showing the constituency boundaries:

Brighton_Kemptown

I often get the No. 23 bus home from work in the evenings. The route of this bus takes it down the A27 to Elm Grove, where it turns left up the hill into Elm Grove which runs uphill into Hanover, which is (more-or-less) that segment at the Western boundary of Brighton Kemptown that has been eaten into by Brighton Pavilion. The bus then turns right and travels south taking it into Queen’s Park and then left again to take it along towards the Marina (the bit that sticks out into the sea).

I know it’s not a very scientific guide to the likely election result, but it is noticeable that the posters showing in the windows in the houses of the Hanover salient of Brighton Pavilion are almost exclusively for Caroline Lucas while those along the rest of journey in Kemptown are almost exclusively for Nancy Platts. It’s a remarkably sudden transition that coincides with the constituency boundary in fact. I’m not sure how much it is reasonable to infer from this observation, but I’d say based on other evidence that Caroline Lucas will probably hold Brighton Pavilion and Nancy Platts will be the next Member of Parliament for Brighton Kemptown.

But of course I could be wrong.

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Last Call for Cosmology Talks at NAM 2015!

Posted in The Universe and Stuff with tags , on April 13, 2015 by telescoper

Just a quick post about this year’s forthcoming Royal Astronomical Society National Astronomy Meeting, which will be taking place at the splendid Venue Cymru conference centre, Llandudno, North Wales, from Sunday 5th July to Thursday 9th July 2015. I’m on the Scientific Organizing Committee for NAM 2015 and as such I’ll be organizing a part of this meeting, namely a couple of sessions on Cosmology under the title Cosmology Beyond the Standard Model, with the following description.

Recent observations, particularly those from the Planck satellite, have provided strong empirical foundations for a standard cosmological model that is based on Einstein’s general theory of relativity and which describes a universe which is homogeneous and isotropic on large scales and which is dominated by dark energy and matter components. This session will explore theoretical and observational challenges to this standard picture, including modified gravity theories, models with large-scale inhomogeneity and/or anisotropy, and alternative forms of matter-energy. The aim will be to both take stock of the evidence for, and stimulate further investigation of, physics beyond the standard model.

The deadline for submitting abstracts for this and other sessions was originally 1st April, but this has been extended until 14th April (i.e. tomorrow). The cosmology sessions are shaping up to be very interesting indeed, but I might be able to squeeze in one or two more talks. If you’ve been prevaricating about submitting a proposal, then please get your finger out and visit the NAM2015 website right now. This is your last chance!

NAM is a particularly good opportunity for younger researchers – PhD students and postdocs – to present their work to a big audience so I particularly encourage such persons to submit abstracts. Would more senior readers please pass this message on to anyone they think might want to give a talk?

If you have any questions please feel free to use the comments box (or contact me privately).