Archive for October 14, 2016

Passport to Pimlico

Posted in Uncategorized on October 14, 2016 by telescoper

So, here I am one Friday night in Pimlico. This afternoon there has been the first Ordinary Meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society of the new season, followed, this evening,  by  dinner with the RAS Club.

On the bill for the RAS meeting were talks about galaxy formation and extrasolar planets, followed by the headline attraction of this year’s Gerald Whitrow Lecture, by Neil Turok of the Perimeter Institute in Canada. The abstract of his talk reads

A spate of new observations are providing powerful clues about the laws of fundamental physics and the cosmos. The implications are revolutionary: the universe is astonishingly simple on the largest and the smallest observable scales, with great complexity in between. These findings contrast sharply with expectations from popular twentieth century paradigms including inflation, supersymmetry and string theory, which led many to take seriously the idea of a wild and unpredictable “multiverse” on large scales. Key “predictions” derived from that picture have been recently falsified, posing observational challenges to the paradigm which compound its many logical problems. In this talk I will discuss a new, and in my view more promising, approach to understanding the quantum nature and integrity of the universe.

There was a great deal of interesting and stimulating material in his talk, and I found myself in agreement with at least some  of the criticisms he made about the multiverse (of which idea I am myself no fan). I remain however unconvinced (as yet) that his “new approach” is more promising as he claims, probably because the last bit was a bit rushed. I look forward to being proved wrong!

Anyway, after that it was dinner at the Athenaeum with the club, but instead of making the long journey of returning to Cardiff (the Severn Tunnel remains closed) I decided to stay in London.

In fact tomorrow I shall be attending a lunch at Sussex University in honour of the 50th anniversary of the founding of Astronomy Centre, my first trip back there since I left at the end of July, so it makes sense to stay overnight in London, close enough to Victoria that I don’t have far to go to get the train to Brighton tomorrow…