Archive for January 13, 2020

Storm Damage

Posted in Biographical, Maynooth with tags , on January 13, 2020 by telescoper

We’ve had an eventful day in Maynooth so far with the arrival of Storm Brendan in Ireland. It was already rather windy when I set out for work about 9.00 this morning and the storm grew in intensity throughout the morning. We’re quite a long way inland, though, and conditions were nowhere near as wild as coastal areas, especially County Cork, where winds reached 140 km/h in places. Other areas badly affected include Galway, Limerick, Kerry and Donegal.

I was just thinking about taking my lunch break at around 12.30 when all the power went off in the Science Building. I had a quick look around inside the Department to check there weren’t any serious issues (e.g. damage to computers) then ventured outside, where I found the entire campus, both South and North, was affected plus the traffic lights on Kilcock Road.

Since it was a widespread power failure I was a bit worried that it might take some time to fix. This, however, wasn’t the case and as I returned from my scouting expedition I saw power had already been restored to some campus buildings. Power outages have happened before at Maynooth and the usual practice is to power up gradually zone by zone, presumably to avoid any surges. Eventually, about an hour after the original interruption to service, everything came back online.

I had just written the end of that paragraph (at about 3.20pm) when the power went off again. That apparently was a scheduled outage in order to fix a `wider network problem’. The electricity supply was only off for about ten minutes this time. Unfortunately, this second power cut seems to have taken out our internet connections so I had to complete this via a wireless connection. Fortunately, WordPress has an autosave facility so I didn’t lose anything. Now let’s see if we can fix the server…

Another Cosmologist for Maynooth!

Posted in Maynooth, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , on January 13, 2020 by telescoper

A few people have contacted me to ask what happened with the research position in cosmology at Maynooth University advertised a few months ago. Well, I am now in a position to provide the answer.

I’m very happy to announce that as of January 2nd 2020, Dr John Regan has joined the staff of the Department of Theoretical Physics, bringing with him an SFI – Royal Society University Research Fellowship (URF) which will fund his research for five years.

Dr John Regan

John’s primary area of research is in trying to understand the formation of black holes in the early Universe and their subsequent growth and evolution. He is interested in trying to determine how the first massive black holes in the Universe formed and the conditions required to form them. The problem is well posed since at early times the Universe was a comparatively simple place compared to the Universe today. Recent observations have indicated that Supermassive Black Holes existed less than 1 billion years after the big bang (the Universe is approximately 14 billion years old). A current open problem in Cosmology is how did black holes form and grow quickly enough in order to become super-massive so early in the Universe?

In answering this question John uses high resolution numerical simulations to study the environments in which the first massive black hole seeds may have formed and then grown to become the super-massive ones we can still observe today.

I’m delighted that John has joined the Department and look forward to many years of fruitful collaborations and discussions. He will be joined by a PDRA and a research student in due course.

You can follow John on Twitter here: