Archive for March, 2019

I’ve no more … to give

Posted in Biographical, Music, Politics with tags , on March 26, 2019 by telescoper

And now here’s a vocal summation of my views on Brexit by Thomas Benjamin Wild Esq, a chap with a lovely beard…

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Feline Film Star

Posted in Maynooth with tags on March 26, 2019 by telescoper

As I was walking into work this morning I noticed that the local celebrity cat was preparing for a location shoot for a film he’s going to be starring in.

I’m not at liberty to give any more details about the film, but I’m not surprised he’s been offered a central part as he is a natural in front of the camera. In my experience cats are generally difficult subjects, as they have a tendency to wander off or otherwise get distracted as soon as you try to photograph them. This one is quite happy to pose. I’ll post an update when the movie is released.

How big was the 23rd March Put It To The Vote march? A: too big to ignore

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on March 25, 2019 by telescoper

This post offers some interesting reflections on Saturday’s march. I recall the anti-War march in 2003 and would say that Saturday’s was similar in size, and both were substantially larger than the one last autumn.

I heard the organisers announce an official estimate of 1 million (without an error bar). Not being able to reach the end of the march – barely got halfway – I can’t make a quantitative estimate. I’ll just say that if someone told me it was two or three times as big as the one in 2018 then I wouldn’t be surprised.

I’ll just add that it was very enjoyable and the participants were very friendly and polite – so different from the abusive and threatening conduct of the other side. That is probably the Remainers’ biggest problem – we’re just too nice. The government is far more likely to be swayed by threats of `blood on the streets’ than civilized peaceful protest, which is why I fear so much for the direction in which the UK is heading.

Kmflett's Blog

How big was the 23rd March Put It To The Vote march? A: too big to ignore

I was not able due to other commitments to pay more than passing direct attention to the People’s Vote in central London on 23rd March.

As might be expected I’m no fan of the named organisers but that is hardly the point. A very large demonstration brings all sorts of people and ideas onto the streets and opens up possibilities.

The organisers pre-claimed the march would be a million strong and repeated that afterwards as well. To be fair with such a large march over a relatively short distance ending up in a restricted space its very difficult to tell. My general views on the size of protests are here:

https://kmflett.wordpress.com/2019/03/21/once-gain-on-the-size-of-protests-the-peoples-vote-march-23rd-march/

There were some slightly odd claims. One twitter post showed the Mall full for a Royal event in a previous…

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Fine-tuning in Cosmology

Posted in The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , , on March 25, 2019 by telescoper

I forgot to post a link to a paper by Fred Adams that appeared on the arXiv last month on the topic of the fine-tuning of the Universe which I had bookmarked for a blog a while ago.

My heart always sinks when the arXiv informs me that the abstract of a paper is `abridged’ so here’s the full version from the PDF you can download for yourself here. Please be aware, though, that it’s a lengthy paper running to over two hundred pages:

My own view on this topic is that it is indeed remarkable that the Universe is finely-tuned to exactly the extent required to allow authors to write such long papers about the fine-tuning of the Universe…

 

Promoting the Open Journal of Astrophysics

Posted in Open Access, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , on March 24, 2019 by telescoper

The talk I gave at the meeting I attended last week to celebrate the retirement 60th Birthday of Alan Heavens was about the Open Journal of Astrophysics project. Here are the slides:

I decided a while ago that whenever I get the opportunity at conferences or other meetings I will talk about the Open Journal of Astrophysics (OJA for short) , mainly to encourage more submissions but also to raise OJA’s profile so people aren’t tempted to dismiss review invitations as spam from predatory journals.  At the moment, refereeing is the rate-limiting step in the publication process, at least part of the reason being that people don’t really know what we’re about and perhaps assume that it’s not a bona fide operation.

The talk I gave on Friday generated a fair amount of discussion, and was hopefully a small step along the way to establishing OJA as a mainstream journal and perhaps even the default choice for papers on astrophysics. Emma Chapman posted a tweet about my talk (including a picture of me in action) which got quite a lot of attention on Twitter:

 

I’ll just add that you can read more about the extent of the profiteering going on here.

 

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, let me mention I have some money (in a grant courtesy of the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation) to help promote this project, and I can legitimately spend it on travel to give talks etc.. If anyone would like a talk about this project, please feel free to contact me!

 

A Very British March

Posted in Biographical, Politics with tags , , , , on March 24, 2019 by telescoper

I’m back in Maynooth now after yesterday’s wonderful demonstration in London. Sources are claiming that about 1.4M people attended. I met filk from all round the country, many of whom had never been on a march before. It’s also worth saying according to the Metropolitan Police that there was not a single incident that they had to deal with.

I’m not very good in big crowds (to say the least) so I stood for a while a little distance from the main body of the demonstration as it assembled in Park Lane. I was astonished to see how many people were joining. It was certainly larger than the previous one, last year.

I eventually joined in when it started moving (very slowly). The people were very friendly and despite the numbers I didn’t get at all panicky. It struck me as being a quintessentially British demonstration, in that it was basically just some very nice polite people waiting politely in a very long queue..

The march was due to start at 12 noon but i didn’t get going until well after 2pm. I had to leave at 4pm, by which I had only got halfway along Piccadilly. Instead of going all the way to Parliament Square I headed back to my hotel, picked up the bag I had left there and took a packed tube to Heathrow. I made it just in time. The plane began boarding just as I ckeated the security checks.

I didn’t take many pictures of the march, but here are a few:

Hyde Park, the Statue of Achilles

Philosopher A. C. Grayling and I..

Beards against Brexit!

It was a wonderful experience to be in the company of so many extremely nice people and I was sad I couldn’t make it all the way to the end!

P. S. The petition on revoking Article 50 has reached almost reached 5 million signatures.

Put it to the People!

Posted in Politics with tags , , , on March 23, 2019 by telescoper

Well, that was a very enjoyable and informative couple of days in London celebrating the 60th Birthday of Alan Heavens, but my trip to London is not yet over. Before going to Heathrow Airport for the flight back to Dublin this evening, I am taking part in a demonstration in Central London demanding a referendum as a last chance to avert the calamity of Brexit, halt Britain’s descent into nationalistic xenophobia, and prevent the social and economic harm being done by the ongoing madness. I have a feeling that Theresa May’s toxic speech on Wednesday evening in which she blamed everyone but herself for the mess that she has created will have galvanized many more than me into action.

I’m not sure whether this march – even if it is huge – will make much difference or even that it will be properly reported in the media, but one has to do something. Despite the short delay to the Brexit date agreed by the EU, I still think the most likely outcome of this shambles is that the UK leaves without a proper withdrawal agreement and thus begins a new life as a pariah state run by incompetent deadheads who know nothing other than the empty slogans that they regurgitate instead of answering real questions.

The only sensible response to the present impasse is to `Put it to the People’, but there is no time to organize a new referendum – a proper one, informed by facts as we now know them and without the wholesale unlawful behavior of the Leave campaign in the last one. I dismiss entirely any argument that a new referendum would be undemocratic in any way. Only those terminally gripped by Brexit insanity would argue that voting can be anti-democratic, especially since there is strong evidence from opinion polls that having seen the mess the Government has created a clear majority wishes to remain. If there isn’t time for a new referendum before the deadline – and further extensions by the EU are unlikely – then the best plan is to revoke the Article 50 notification to stop the clock.

I know I’m not alone in thinking this. An official petition demanding the Government revoke Article 50 has passed 4,000,000 signatures in just a few days. I’ve signed it and encourage you to do likewise, which you can do here.

And if you’re tempted to agree with the Prime Minister’s claim that people are just tired of Brexit and just want it to be over, then please bear in mind that the Withdrawal Agreement – which has taken two years to get nowhere – is only the start of the process. The UK is set for years of further negotiations on the terms of its future relationship not only with the European Union but also all the other agreements that will be terminated by the UK’s self-imposed isolation.

If Brexit does go ahead, which I’m afraid I think will be the case, then my participation in today’s march will not have been a waste – it seems a fitting way to say goodbye to the land of my birth, a country to which I no longer belong.

Anyway, I may be able to add a few pictures of the march in due course but, until then, here is an excerpt from Private Eye that made me laugh.