Archive for April, 2017

Cardiff March for Science

Posted in Cardiff on April 22, 2017 by telescoper

Here’s a couple of snaps of today’s Cardiff March for Science. It was a friendly and fun occasion attended by (at a guess) a few hundred people.  

It started with a rally on the steps of the Senedd building:

The assembled throng then walked around Cardiff Bay to Techniquest. 

This one was taken by another participant, Jordan Cuff (a PhD student in Bioscience). I am actually in this picture, but you can only see my back…

It wasn’t a very demonstrative march -there was no chanting or anything like that – but then it wasn’t really intended to be a demonstration, more of a very polite celebration! 

Oh, and nice weather for it!

March for Science – Cardiff

Posted in Politics, Science Politics with tags , , , on April 21, 2017 by telescoper

Just a quick note to say that tomorrow I’ll be attending the Cardiff March for Science, which is one of a series of events happening around the world. I quote:

The March for Science is a celebration of science.  It’s not only about scientists and politicians; it is about the very real role that science plays in each of our lives and the need to respect and encourage research that gives us insight into the world.

The Cardiff March starts with a rally at 10am on the steps of the Senedd in Cardiff Bay and is followed by a march around the bay to Techniquest for a science event there to which families with children are particularly welcome. It should be a fun occasion  There’s a science-themed fancy dress competition. I’ll be going as a middle-aged man with a beard.

For further details see here or follow the Twitter feed:



The Einstein Theory of Relativity

Posted in Film, The Universe and Stuff with tags , on April 21, 2017 by telescoper

I thought you might find this film interesting. I think it’s rather wonderful, actually, though it’s silent and definitely pre-CGI. It’s also a bit dodgy on the science in a few places.

However, made way back in 1923 by Max FleischerThe Einstein Theory of Relativity  has to be one of the first science films ever made. Who can think of an earlier one?

P.S. Bonus points if you can name the soundtrack music!


Important Announcement

Posted in Uncategorized on April 20, 2017 by telescoper

Right now. Pay attention, everyone.

In view of a sudden and unexpected increase in visits to this blog arising from specific Google searches, I feel that in order to avoid potential disappointment I should make it clear that the Anthony Garrett who comments regularly on posts here is not this Anthony Garrett:

Moreover, as far as I am aware,  the Anthony Garrett who comments on here has never been a professional photographic model nor has he ever lived in Miami.

I hope this clarifies the situation.

P.S. If the other Anthony Garrett would like to get in touch with me privately, he is most welcome to do so.

Interview with Daniela Saadeh: winner of the IOP Gravitational Physics Group (GPG) thesis prize

Posted in Uncategorized on April 20, 2017 by telescoper

On a much happier note, here is an interview with Daniela Saadeh, who won this year’s IOP Gravitational Physics Thesis Prize.

I’m reblogging this one as I happened to be external examiner for Daniela’s PhD!


Daniela SaadehDaniela Saadeh – UCL Astrophysics Group

CQG is proud to sponsor the IOP Gravitational Physics Group (GPG) thesis prize. This year the prize was awarded to Daniela Saadeh, who we have interviewed below. Congratulations Daniela!

Can you tell us a little bit about the work in your thesis?

A fundamental assumption of the standard model of cosmology is that the large-scale Universe is isotropic – i.e. that its properties are independent of direction. Historically, this concept stemmed from the Copernican Principle, the philosophical statement that we do not occupy a ‘special’ place in the Universe. In physical terms, this idea is converted into the assumption that all positions and directions in the Universe are equivalent, so that no observer is ‘privileged’.

However, assumptions must be tested, especially foundational ones. General relativity – our standard theory of gravity – allows for many ways in which spacetime could be anisotropic: directional…

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Punched Out

Posted in Mental Health on April 20, 2017 by telescoper

A tragic and harrowing  last blog post from an academic who took his own life yesterday. I suspect his thoughts resonate with many academics. They certainly do with me. But don’t get the wrong idea about my reasons for reblogging the article. I am not, and never have been, suicidal.  I just thing it is important to at least try to understand why.

Please read the article, and then read some of the comments following it and despair.

‘What a piece of work is Man.”

Will Opines

Assuming I did not botch the task, by the time this posts I will have been dead via suicide for several hours.  Nope, that’s not a setup to a joke.[1]

Why would someone who is healthy, employed, has every outside appearance of success, and so on, take their own life? In my case the answer is simple enough: I was done, but my body wasn’t.  But that answer isn’t satisfying, so, for those who are aggrieved, upset, saddened, etc., let me do my best to try to explain.

And lest you imagine me some sort of sad human whom you should pity, I have never had that view of myself (aside from the occasional pity party, of course).  I did struggle with that self perception on and off as an adolescent and teen.  But since becoming a young adult I came to understand myself as a remarkably privileged human…

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The Snap Election

Posted in Politics on April 18, 2017 by telescoper

Well, there’s a surprise. This morning, Prime Minister Theresa May announced that there will be a snap General Election for June 8th 2017.

Or rather she didn’t. Not quite. Under the Fixed-Term Parliament Act the government must win a two-thirds majority in the House of Commons in order to call an early election. That vote will be held tomorrow. However, ‘Leader of the Opposition’, Hereby Corbyn has for some reason welcomed the move so it seems likely the vote will be carried. Unless, that is, a significant number of Labour MPs defy him. We’ll see.

In her short speech the PM stated that she was calling an early election because Parliament was somehow obstructing her plans for BrEXit. That’s a surprising claim, since the main opposition party voted for triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and has actually done precious little opposing of any kind.

So that argument makes little sense to me. Moreover in 2016 when she came to power, Theresa may stated adamantly that there would be no early General Election.

So why the change of heart? My theory is that the results of the criminal investigation into fraud by the Conservative Party at the 2015 General Election are about the be announced, and the PM doesn’t want to endure a wave of by-elections in marginal constituencies won by dishonest means. Hence the hasty decision to neutralise that threat.

Unless there is tactical voting on a massive scale it seems likely that the Conservative Party will win the forthcoming General Election with a large majority. A big turnout from young people might shake things up too.

I hope everyone who is eligible will register to vote and cast their ballot on the day, tactically if necessary. The Conservatives are treating this country like their private playground and I would be more than delighted if this gamble backfired on them. I have to say, though, that I’m not optimistic.

Brighton Up!

Posted in Brighton, Football on April 17, 2017 by telescoper

Just a quick note this Bank Holiday Monday to observe that by beating Wigan Athletic 2-1, Brighton and Hove Albion have secured promotion to the Premiership next season.

Huddersfield Town had to beat Derby County in their game to prevent Brighton finishing in the top two automatic promotion places, but having led most of the match they let in a late equaliser and the score finished 1-1.

My team, Newcastle United, are still in second place but their form seems to have deserted them and they may well end up having to endure the playoffs.

But that’s for the future to decide. For now I’d just like to congratulate Brighton and Hove Albion on their achievement, an outcome which will gladden the hearts of many friends and former colleagues at Sussex University.

When I was previously involved with undergraduate admissions, it was widely agreed that having a Premiership side in the locality was a significant factor in attracting students to a University. Today’s results may therefore provide a boost in more ways than one!

 In that light I’m sure that locals will happily put up with even worse traffic congestion in the Falmer area on Match days next year. After all, it’s only for one season….;)

And on the Third Day…

Posted in Uncategorized on April 16, 2017 by telescoper

…Worcestershire won by eight wickets.

Before  I get to that let me catch up on the Second day of the County Championship match between Glamorgan and Worcestershire, as I didn’t have time to post  yesterday evening.

In generally fine weather, Worcestershire reached a total of 403 all out, including a century from Tom Kohler-Cadmore. Their innings closed just in time for tea.

In arrears by 196 on the first innings, Glamorgan really needed a good start, and they seemed to get that when openers Selman and Rudolph were still together with the score on 74. However, Rudolf and Lloyd  fell in quick succession and the innings became even more precarious when Selman was out. At stumps, Glamorgan were 141 for 3, needing another 55 to make Worcestershire bat again. Colin Ingram was still there and playing some shots so there was still hope.

Sadly, however, Ingram fell early on the third morning and thereafter, apart from Aneurin Donald (57), Glamorgan offered very little resistance. Donald was hit on the head by a nasty delivery from Josh Tongue. It looked bad but he carried on, only to edge one into the gulley two balls later. Josh Tongue took five wickets on his County debut, as Glamorgan were all out at about 12.30 for 223.

Needing only 28 to win, a Worcestershire victory was an inevitability though they did lose two wickets on the way.

Glamorgan’s batsmen can have no complaints. The conditions for batting were generally good throughout the match: not much sign of swing, not much movement off the pitch, and just a hint of variable bounce. They just didn’t perform well enough. There’s no question that the better team won. Glamorgan have lost their first two games of this season, but they mustn’t allow themselves to get demoralised. It’s one thing to lose a game on the pitch, but quite another when you start losing games in your own head.

Despite the result I enjoyed watching my first County Championship match as a Glamorgan member. I enjoyed the banter in the crowd, and saw some good cricket. It’s just a pity that not much of it was from Glamorgan..

Next cricket at Sophia Gardens is a one-day match a fortnight today against Surrey. Maybe they’ll have more luck in the limited-overs format?

A Good Friday’s Cricket 

Posted in Cricket with tags on April 14, 2017 by telescoper

Some time ago I decided to become a member at Glamorgan County Cricket Club for this season, the price of which includes admission to all County Championship, One Day and Twenty20 games for the season. Since the SWALEC Stadium at Sophia Gardens is only ten minutes’ walk from my house, I hope to catch a fair amount of cricket this summer.

And so it came to pass that this morning I found myself watching the first County Championship game of the season in Cardiff, between Glamorgan and Worcestershire. Glamorgan lost their first match of the season (away against Northamptonshire) inside two days, by an innings and 22 runs, so the home fans were hoping for a stronger performance in this match.

The ground was fairly sparsely populated, as per usual for County Cricket, but there were enough people there to create an atmosphere and not so many to cause long queues at the bar.

In overcast and rather chilly conditions, Worcestershire used the uncontested toss to invite Glamorgan to bat first. As they had done against Northamptonshire, Glamorgan’s batsmen struggled, losing eight wickets for 105  in the first session. Another thrashing looked inevitable.

After lunch, however, the situation improved as Lloyd, in partnership first with Carey and then with Hogan, added over a hundred at about eight an over. Glamorgan were eventually all out for 207. Lloyd was last out, for 88.

Worcestershire lost both openers with just one run on the board, but Fell and Clarke added 79 runs before both got out in quick succession. At 80 for 4 a collapse looked on the cards, but Kohler-Cadmore and wicket-keeper Cox put together a century partnership before bad light brought play to an early close.

Worcestershire at 180 for 4 definitely have the upper hand, but with 387 runs having been scored and 14 wickets having fallen, it was a good day’s cricket.

Incidentally, this summer Glamorgan are celebrating 50 years of cricket at Sophia Gardens. Before 1967 they played their games on a cricket ground in Cardiff Arms Park, which was next to the famous rugby stadium. However this site is right next to the River Taff and suffered from very poor drainage. The sheer number of rugby games – both local and international – combined with the drainage problem meant the pitch was often in very poor condition, compared to the other home international rugby grounds. It was therefore decided to move the cricket ground and build a second rugby stadium. It’s quite a complicated story, but that is basically why nowadays there are two rugby stadiums side by side in central Cardiff, the huge  Millennium Stadium (now called the Principality Stadium) for internationals, and the much smaller Cardiff Arms Park, home to Cardiff Blues.

The cricket didn’t move far, however, as Sophia Gardens is just a short walk from the city centre and even closer to my house! I’ll be there tomorrow, to find out what Day 2 has to offer.