Archive for the Brighton Category

Morning over the Marina

Posted in Brighton on January 25, 2016 by telescoper

How clear, how lovely bright,
How beautiful to sight
Those beams of morning play;
How heaven laughs out with glee
Where, like a bird set free,
Up from the eastern sea
Soars the delightful day.


p.s. note the authentic “rosy fingers” to the left of the shot…

Physics & Astronomy at Sussex – The Videos!

Posted in Brighton, Education with tags , , on January 20, 2016 by telescoper

So the annual University admissions cycle is getting into gear, which means I’ll be spending quite a few Saturdays giving talks and chatting to prospective students and their parents. As we prepare for  the first of Applicant Visit Days at the University of Sussex (on Saturday 23rd January) we’ve produced a number of videos featuring current students in the Department of Physics & Astronomy. I thought I’d share a couple here.

First here’s Anjelah, a student on our 4-year MPhys degree in Theoretical Physics. She still seems quite keen, despite having taken my Theoretical Physics module in her second year!

Here’s Joe, a 4-year MPhys (Physics) student:

And here’s another by Linn, who is on the BSc in Physics with Astrophysics degree:

You’ll notice that both of them talk about our dedicated study spaces, which the students really like. We’re one of the few Physics & Astronomy Departments in the UK – in fact the only that I know of – that has turned over the management of a large suite of rooms over to our students. We don’t just allow them to use the rooms 24 hours a day; we also give them a budget for furniture and books and they basically decide what they want and how to arrange it all. We also provide a constant supply of free tea and coffee (although I have to admit that I do pop in there from time to time and help myself too).


Morning over the Marina

Posted in Brighton with tags on January 19, 2016 by telescoper


Wiston House, Wilton Park and Chatham House Rules

Posted in Biographical, Brighton with tags , , , on December 2, 2015 by telescoper

Back to work and a whole morning of meetings today I thought I’d pause briefly to say something about the venue for the recent awaydays…


As Colin correctly spotted, the venue was Wiston House which is near Steyning, North of Shoreham, in West Sussex. The house was built in the late 16th Century but extensively modernised and refurbished over the years. It was built by a chap called Thomas Shirley, a politician who basically embezzled the funds needed to build it from the Treasury. Perhaps even worse than that he demolished an entire village to make way for what was essentially a private residence. When his fraud was uncovered he was imprisoned, his family declared bankrupt and the buildings seized by the Government. It wasn’t returned to the poor people thrown off their land to make way for it in the first place.

More recently, during World War 2, Wiston House (along with most large country houses near the South coast), was commandeered for military use; it became the Headquarters for the Canadian High Command and the surrounding parkland was used as a base for troops preparing for the Normandy landings, along with about 200 tanks and other vehicles. The troops stationed in the area formed part of the 3rd Canadian Division that led the the assault on Juno Beach in June 1944.

Since 1951, however, the House has been used by Wilton Park, an offshoot of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. This organization is probably most famous as being responsible for mediating the talks that took place in 1946 about the future of post-war Germany but at that time it was based at a different location, Wilton Park in Buckinghamshire, which was the site of a camp for German Prisoners Of War. In 1951 it moved to Wiston House, but its name travelled with it so now, somewhat confusingly, Wilton Park is now based in Wiston House. It now hosts a very large number of events involved with global issues, including security, political strategy and conflict resolution as well as some more mundane things that can benefit from their expertise such as the Awaydays I attended on Monday and Tuesday. It’s not generally open to the public and security, though discreet, is quite extensive which is not surprising given the high profile nature of many of their guests, though not so much at the event I attended!

The staff at Wilton Park adopt strict protocols for how they facilitate its discussions, including Chatham House Rules, and bans on the use of social media during sessions. Hence my virtual twitter and blog silence over the past couple of days. Although we didn’t discuss anything that might threaten global security or engender any form of conflict, it would be inappropriate to break the rules for any reason so I won’t say anything about what was said or by whom…

Just for interesting, the small manor church to the left of the main building dates back almost 1000 years – it is mentioned in the Domesday Book – but the interior has been altered considerably and looks quite modern. I was not actually staying in the main house, but in one of the outbuildings, formerly stables but very comfortable and quite reminiscent of the arrangements at The Cosener’s House, a venue familiar to many physicists.

Away Days

Posted in Biographical, Brighton on November 30, 2015 by telescoper

No time to blog today as I am at yet another Awayday. In fact I will be Away for Two Days.


Can anyone name my location (in the photograph above)?

Sussex – The Aerial Perspective

Posted in Brighton with tags , , on October 9, 2015 by telescoper

This very nice short video by Scott Wright was made using a camera on a drone, giving some unusual perspectives on familiar Sussex landmarks!


Early Autumn?

Posted in Brighton with tags , , , on August 24, 2015 by telescoper

This seems a bit strange. I was on campus yesterday (23rd August) and noticed that the leaves are already falling from the trees:

Early Autmn

Has Autumn come early to Sussex this year? Or is this normal? Anyone noticed anything like this elsewhere?

Brighton Pride

Posted in Biographical, Brighton, LGBT on August 1, 2015 by telescoper

Today I’ve been mainly taking part in the 25th Brighton Pride celebrations. The Parade started out 90 minutes late and on a diverted route because of what appears to have been a hoax bomb (in the words of the police, a “suspect package” – no jokes please) but the atmosphere was incredible. Not only was the parade huge, but the streets were lined with thousands and thousands of people. It was all very friendly so my worries that my fear of crowds would resurface were unfounded.

I walked with the Sussex University student society. Hopefully next year there will be an official staff presence!

The Pride Carnival in Preston Park after the Parade wasn’t so interesting for me so I only stayed a couple of hours before returning to Kemptown for the Village Party, which will go on all night and all day tomorrow. I am just taking a break for a cup of tea and a bite to eat before deciding whether to rejoin the party a bit later. I am however a bit oldy for that sort of thing and may instead decide to listen to the Proms instead..

Anyway, here are a few pictures of the parade and village party..








Planning for the Future

Posted in Brighton, Education with tags , , on July 30, 2015 by telescoper

Some great news arrived this morning. The Planning Inspectorate has given approval to the University of Sussex’s Campus Masterplan, which paves the way for some much-needed new developments on the Falmer Campus and a potential £500 million investment in the local economy. As a scientist working at the University I’m particularly delighted with this decision as it will involve much-needed new science buildings which should ease the pressure on our existing estate. The planned developments include new state-of-the-art academic and research facilities, the creation of an estimated 2400 new jobs in the local community and 2500 new student rooms on the campus, while still preserving the famous listed buildings designed by architect Sir Basil Spence when the University was founded back in the 1960s. We’re in for an exciting few years as these new developments take shape, especially a new building for Life Sciences and redevelopment of the East Slope site. The expansion of residential accommodation on campus will take some of the pressure off the housing stock in central Brighton while the other new buildings will provide much-needed replacements and extensions for some older ones that are at the end of their useful life.

Here’s a video fly-through that illustrates the general scale of the development – although the individual buildings shown are just indicative, as detailed designs are still being drawn up and each new building will need further planning permission.

But it is not just as an employee of the University that I am delighted by this news. I also live in Brighton and I honestly believe that the expansion of the University is an extremely good thing for the City, which is already turning into a thriving high-tech economy owing to the presence of so many skilled graduates and spin-out enterprises. There’s a huge amount of work to do in order to turn these plans into reality, but within a couple of years I think we’ll start to see the dividend.

Back to Brighton Beach

Posted in Biographical, Brighton with tags , , on June 18, 2015 by telescoper

Well, back from Cambridge to Brighton for a very busy working day at the University of Sussex during which I probably won’t have time to post, so I thought I’d just share a picture.This was the view from the seafront as I walked to the bus stop on my way to work this morning…