Archive for November 20, 2017

Antikythera, the Green Island of Science

Posted in History, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , on November 20, 2017 by telescoper

You’ve probably all heard of the Antikythera Mechanism, a sophisticated device that was used about 2000 years ago by the Greeks to predict astronomical positions and eclipses for calendar and astrological purposes and found in 1902 at the site of a shipwreck near the island of Antikythera. You may not know that there is a strong connection between the study of this amazing piece of machinery and my current employer, Cardiff University, especially through our own Emeritus Professor Mike Edmunds.

Well, it seems that another episode in the story of Antikythera is about to open up as a result of a new initiative of the National Observatory of Athens, in collaboration with the Prefecture of Attica and the Municipality of the island of Kythira. This will lead to the creation of an Observatory of Climate Change and Centre of Geosciences at the island of AntiKythera, where the famous ancient mechanism was found and which is currently almost deserted.

Here is a little video about this project. The dialogue is in Greek, but with subtitles. I should also point out that the first person you see and hear is Manolis Plionis, who is Director of the National Observatory of Athens, a very old friend of mine who I first met at Sussex when I started my graduate studies in the Astronomy Centre there in 1985.


GW170608—The underdog

Posted in The Universe and Stuff with tags , , on November 20, 2017 by telescoper

Interesting post from a gravitational wave researcher, telling the inside story of the latest gravitational wave detection (a binary black hole merger) announced last week.



Christopher Berry

Detected in June, GW170608 has had a difficult time. It was challenging to analyse, and neglected in favour of its louder and shinier siblings. However, we can now introduce you to our smallest chirp-mass binary black hole system!

Family of adorable black holes The growing family of black holes. From Dawn Finney.

Our family of binary black holes is now growing large. During our first observing run (O1) we found three: GW150914, LVT151012 and GW151226. The advanced detector observing run (O2) ran from 30 November 2016 to 25 August 2017 (with a couple of short breaks). From our O1 detections, we were expecting roughly one binary black hole per month. The first same in January, GW170104, and we have announced the first detection which involved Virgo from August, GW170814, so you might be wondering what happened in-between? Pretty much everything was dropped following the detection of our first…

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