Archive for January 3, 2017

The Land of Might-Have-Been

Posted in Film, Music with tags , , , , , on January 3, 2017 by telescoper

Over the Christmas break Composer of the Week on BBC Radio 3 featured Ivor Novello. Ivor Novello was considered old-fashioned even in his own lifetime, but I have no shame in admitting that I love his music, which I think is beautifully crafted. Ivor Novello was born David Ivor Davies, in Cardiff. In fact the house in which he was born is very close to mine:

ivor-novello-s-house-on-cowbridge-road-east-cardiff-616323421

Anyway, the Radio programme about Ivor Novello encouraged me to put on a DVD of the fine film Gosford Park, the script for which, written by Julian Fellowes, won an Oscar. In the movie, Ivor Novello is played by Jeremy Northam who sings a number of songs with his brother Christopher accompanying him at the piano, including this one. With music by Ivor Novello and lyrics by Edward Moore, it conveys that sense of longing for a better world that many of us are feeling right now.

Somewhere there’s another land
different from this world below,
far more mercifully planned
than the cruel place we know.
Innocence and peace are there–
all is good that is desired.
Faces there are always fair;
love grows never old nor tired.

We shall never find that lovely
land of might-have-been.
I can never be your king nor
you can be my queen.
Days may pass and years may pass
and seas may lie between–
We shall never find that lovely
land of might-have-been.

Sometimes on the rarest nights
comes the vision calm and clear,
gleaming with unearthly lights
on our path of doubt and fear.
Winds from that far land are blown,
whispering with secret breath–
hope that plays a tune alone,
love that conquers pain and death.

Shall we ever find that lovely
land of might-have-been?
Will I ever be your king or you
at last my queen?
Days may pass and years may pass
and seas may lie between–
Shall we ever find that lovely
land of might-have-been?

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Back to Work…

Posted in Biographical, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , on January 3, 2017 by telescoper

Well, the Christmas break is over at Cardiff University and I’m back in the office of the Data Innovation Research Institute. To be honest, it’s rather quiet around here. Most staff seem to be still on holiday. There are a few students around, mainly international ones. This is actually a revision week at Cardiff University in advance of the mid-year examinations which start next week and go on for a fortnight. After that we’ll be back into teaching. I’ll be doing a Masters-level module on The Physics of the Early Universe in the forthcoming term, and I’m very much looking forward to it.

The outcomes of the annual round of consolidated grants administered by the Astronomy Grants Panel of Science and Technology Facilities Council were announced just before Christmas, with success for some and disappointment for others. I only have anecdotal evidence from personal contacts but it seems to have been a tough round, which wouldn’t surprise me because the funding for basic scientific research in the UK has been flat in cash terms for many years now, and is gradually being eroded by inflation. It’s a tough climate but when, in a couple of years, we lose access to all forms of EU funding things will get even tougher…

Anyway, as new grants are announced and old ones terminated, this is a busy time of year for postdocs (who are largely funded by research grants) seeking new positions. I’ve spent most of the day so far writing references for applicants and will return to that task for a couple of hours after lunch. It’s particularly tough on those whose positions lapse at the end of March who only got notice just before Christmas that their existing funding is not going to be renewed. There’s little time in such a position to get a new job sorted, but on the other hand, new grants are starting from 1st April so there are opportunities out there. It’s not easy to respond if you have a family or other commitments, though.

Another thing that happened just before Christmas was that the Data Innovation Research Institute here at Cardiff University announced its first tranche of “seedcorn” grants to foster interdisciplinary research. These grants are quite small in cash terms but it is hoped that at least some of them will help develop substantial projects by bringing together parts of the University that don’t previously collaborate enough. Congratulations to those whose proposals were selected, and commiserations to those who were unsuccessful.

I was pleased that my proposal – together with Professor Nikolai Leonenko of the School of Mathematics – was one of the successful bids. That means that, probably in the spring, we will be organizing a short workshop relating to the analysis and modelling of astrophysical data defined on the sphere, a topic which has interesting mathematical aspects as well as very practical implications for astronomy and cosmology. We’ll be starting to organize that soon, which adds another item to my to-do list, but it should be a fun conference when it happens.

Before you ask: yes, I do work for the Data Innovation Research Institute but because I was an applicant I recused myself from judging the applications in case there was any perception of a conflict of interest. So there.

Most of my work between now and the start of teaching term is going to be devoted to a couple of MSc courses we’re planning to launch this year, but I’ll write more about them – and plug them shamelessly – when they’re all formally announced and ready to go!

And with that I’d better get back to work again.

Exploring Cosmic Origins with CORE: Inflation [CEA]

Posted in The Universe and Stuff on January 3, 2017 by telescoper

More on the capabilities of CORE…

arXiver

http://arxiv.org/abs/1612.08270

We forecast the scientific capabilities of CORE, a proposed CMB space satellite submitted in response to the ESA fifth call for a medium-size mission opportunity, to improve our understanding of cosmic inflation. The CORE mission will map the CMB anisotropies in temperature and polarization in 19 frequency channels spanning the range 60-600 GHz. CORE will have an aggregate noise sensitivity of $1.7 mu$ K$cdot ,$arcmin and an angular resolution of 5′ at 200 GHz. We explore the impact of telescope size and noise sensitivity on the inflation science return by making forecasts for several instrumental configurations. This study assumes that the lower and higher frequency channels suffice to remove foreground contaminations and complements other related studies of component separation and systematic effects, which will be reported in other papers of the series “Exploring Cosmic Origins with CORE.” We forecast the capability to determine key inflationary parameters, to lower the…

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Exploring Cosmic Origins with CORE: Cosmological Parameters [CEA]

Posted in The Universe and Stuff on January 3, 2017 by telescoper

Here’s an arXiver post I missed before Christmas about CORE – an exciting proposed for new CMB mission with a focus on polarization

arXiver

http://arxiv.org/abs/1612.00021

We forecast the main cosmological parameter constraints achievable with the CORE space mission which is dedicated to mapping the polarisation of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB). CORE was recently submitted in response to ESA’s fifth call for medium-sized mission proposals (M5). Here we report the results from our pre-submission study of the impact of various instrumental options, in particular the telescope size and sensitivity level, and review the great, transformative potential of the mission as proposed. Specifically, we assess the impact on a broad range of fundamental parameters of our Universe as a function of the expected CMB characteristics, with other papers in the series focusing on controlling astrophysical and instrumental residual systematics. In this paper, we assume that only a few central CORE frequency channels are usable for our purpose, all others being devoted to the cleaning of astrophysical contaminants. On the theoretical side, we assume LCDM as…

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