Archive for April 4, 2018

EWASS in Liverpool

Posted in Football, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , , on April 4, 2018 by telescoper

I’m back in Maynooth with teaching to do after the Easter recess. The Flybe schedule having just changed for the summer, I took a 7am flight from Cardiff to Dublin this morning, which meant getting up at stupid o’clock, but I got here safely enough to Maynooth at about 9.40am.

Anyway, had I not known that I would be here in Ireland I would probably have planned to visit the English Midlands in order to attend EWASS (European Week of Astronomy and Space Science) which takes place this week in Liverpool. This meeting, which is in a different country each year, this time incorporates the Royal Astronomical Society’s annual National Astronomy Meeting making it one of the biggest astronomy conferences ever held in the UK.

Sadly my teaching commitments meant I couldn’t attend EWASS2018, but I thought I’d take this opportunity to wish everyone there all the best for an enjoyable and productive week.

I’ll also mention that various short videos of press briefings etc are coming out on Youtube with little snippets from the conference, including this one about Ariel (which I blogged about recently):

You can find other videos by searching for EWASS on Youtube. I’m sure more will emerge over the next couple of days!

P.S. The event in Liverpool has clearly been planned with football fans in mind: Liverpool play Manchester City tonight, in Liverpool, in the UEFA Champions League..(UPDATE: the match finished 3-0 to Liverpool, which presumably pleased the locals).

Dark Slender Boy – Liam O’Flynn

Posted in Music with tags , on April 4, 2018 by telescoper

I’m by no means an expert on the Uilleann pipes, but the sad death of Liam O’Flynn (after a long struggle with cancer) a few weeks ago gave me occasion to hear some recordings of his, and I was captivated by the amazing sounds coming from this instrument.

The Uilleann pipes look a bit like a much larger version of the Northumbrian smallpipes I am familiar with from the region of my birth, in that the bag is inflated using an elbow pump, but they have a much wider range – two octaves – and can play sharps and flats. A master such as Liam O’Flynn could also generate a range of other effects, by bending notes in much the same way as a jazz or blues musician would, and also achieving subtle changes of tone and volume. Here’s a lovely example of his art, a solo performance of a tune called Dark Slender Boy on which he conjures up a world of musical possibilities.