Archive for January 22, 2018

Light, I know, treads the ten million stars

Posted in Poetry, The Universe and Stuff with tags , on January 22, 2018 by telescoper

Light, I know, treads the ten million stars,
And blooms in the Hesperides. Light stirs
Out of the heavenly sea onto the moon’s shores.
Such light shall not illuminate my fears
And catch a turnip ghost in every cranny.
I have been frightened of the dark for years.
When the sun falls and the moon stares,
My heart hurls from my side and tears
Drip from my open eyes as honey
Drips from the humming darkness of the hive.
I am a timid child when light is dead.
Unless I learn the night I shall go mad.
It is night’s terrors I must learn to love,
Or pray for day to some attentive god
Who on his cloud hears all my wishes,
Hears and refuses.
Light walks the sky, leaving no print,
And there is always day, the shining of some sun,
In those high globes I cannot count,
And some shine for a second and are gone,
Leaving no print.
But lunar night will not glow in my blackness,
Make bright its corners where a skeleton
Sits back and smiles, A tiny corpse
Turns to the roof a hideous grimace,
Or mice play with an ivory tooth.
Stars’ light and sun’s light will not shine
As clearly as the light of my own brain,
Will only dim life, and light death.
I must learn night’s light or go mad.

by Dylan Thomas (1914-1953)


Newsflash: New Chair at STFC

Posted in Science Politics, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , on January 22, 2018 by telescoper

As a quick piece of community service I thought I’d pass on the news of the appointment of a new Executive Chair for the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), namely Professor Mark Thomson of the University of Cambridge. Developments at STFC will cease to be relevant to me after this summer as I’m moving to Ireland but this is potentially very important news for many readers of this blog.

Professor Thomson is an Experimental Particle Physicist whose home page at Cambridge describes his research in thuswise manner:

My main research interests are neutrino physics, the physics of the electroweak interactions, and the design of detectors at a future colliders. I am co-spokesperson of the DUNE collaboration, which consists of over 1000 scientiests and engineers from over 170 institutions in 31 nations across the globe. The Cambridge neutrino group splits its acivities between MicroBooNE and DUNE and is using advanced particle flow calorimetry techniques to interpret the images from large liquid argon TPC neutrino detector.

I’ve added a link to the DUNE collaboration for those of you who don’t know about it – it’s a very large neutrino physics experiment to be based in the USA.

On the announcement, Prof. Thomson stated:

I am passionate about STFC science, which spans the smallest scales of particle physics to the vast scales of astrophysics and cosmology, and it is a great honour be appointed to lead STFC as its new Executive Chair. The formation of UKRI presents exciting opportunities for STFC to further develop the UK’s world-leading science programme and to maximise the impact of the world-class facilities supported by STFC.

This appointment needs to be officially confirmed after a pre-appointment hearing by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee but, barring a surprise offer of the position to Toby Young, he’s likely to take over the reins at STFC in April this year. He’ll have his work cut out trying to make the case for continued investment in fundamental science in the United Kingdom, in the face of numerous challenges, so I’d like to take this opportunity to wish him the very best of luck in his new role!

Hirsute cosmologist Peter Coles joins Beard of Winter poll after ‘write-in’ votes

Posted in Beards, Biographical on January 22, 2018 by telescoper

I see that, despite popular demand, Keith Flett, on behalf of the Beard Liberation Front, has at the last minute decided to give me another chance to fail to win a beard award. I’m currently in second place in the poll as it enters its final week…

Kmflett's Blog

Beard Liberation Front

PRESS RELEASE 20th January

Contact Keith Flett      07803 167266

Hirsute cosmologist Peter Coles joins Beard of Winter poll after ‘write-in’ votes

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has said that leading hirsute cosmologist Peter Coles has joined the Beard of Winter poll after write-in votes for him broke the threshold of 1% of the total poll

Mr Coles, based at Cardiff University and also at Maynooth in Ireland was a contender for Beard of the Year in 2014.

The Beard of Winter is the first of four seasonal awards that lead to the Beard of the Year Award in December 2018.

It focuses both on fuller organic beards, suitable for winter weather but also on beards that have made an early New Year impact in the public eye.

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said, Peter Coles has one of the most distinguished of scientific…

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