Archive for the Uncategorized Category

New Publication at the Open Journal of Astrophysics!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on December 9, 2019 by telescoper

We have published yet another new paper at The Open Journal of Astrophysics!

Here is a grab of the overlay:

The authors are Enrico Bellini (Oxford, UK), Ludovic van Waerbeke (University of British Columbia, Canada), Shahab Joudaki (Oxford) and David Alonso (Cardiff)

You can find the accepted version on the arXiv here. This is another one for the  `Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics’ section, which is proving rather popular.

We would be very happy to get more submissions from other areas, especially Stellar and Planetary astrophysics. Hint! Hint!


P.S. Just a reminder that we now have an Open Journal of Astrophysics Facebook page where you can follow updates from the Journal should you so wish..

Hallowe’en at Dias!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on October 29, 2019 by telescoper

I’m interrupting my short break to post a quick reminder that I’m giving a public talk at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS) this coming Thursday, Dark Matter Day, October 31st 2019, coincidentally the same day as Hallowe’en, or in modern parlance Not-Brexit Day. I am particularly grateful to be invited to give a talk that evening because it allows me to avoid getting involved in trick-or-treat or any of that nonsense.

Here is the nice advert the people at DIAS have made for the event:

The talk is free, but you need to sign up here as the venue is not infinitely large and is already almost full. You can also find some more details about the talk there.

Prestige Bias and Luck

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on October 15, 2019 by telescoper

Quite a few times on this blog I have acknowledged the tremendous amount of luck I have had all the way through my career, not least that the opportunity which led to my current position in Maynooth came up when exactly when it did, but another thing that has played a role has been privilege, defined not only in terms of race and social class but also educational and institutional background. Those of us who have benefitted from this are often blind to its influence, preferring to think we achieve things purely on merit. I was reminded of this by an interesting paper on the arXiv by Brian Skinner, which has the abstract:

One of the major benefits of belonging to a prestigious group is that it affects the way you are viewed by others. Here I use a simple mathematical model to explore the implications of this “prestige bias” when candidates undergo repeated rounds of evaluation. In the model, candidates who are evaluated most highly are admitted to a “prestige class”, and their membership biases future rounds of evaluation in their favor. I use the language of Bayesian inference to describe this bias, and show that it can lead to a runaway effect in which the weight given to the prior expectation associated with a candidate’s class becomes stronger with each round. Most dramatically, the strength of the prestige bias after many rounds undergoes a first-order transition as a function of the precision of the examination on which the evaluation is based.

You can read the full paper here. The author acknowledges the role that blind luck played in his own career but also develops a simple mathematical model of prestige bias. It’s an interesting paper, well worth a read.

Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellowships

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on October 3, 2019 by telescoper

Before I go home to shelter from Storm Lorenzo I thought I’d use the medium of this blog to advertise the Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Research Fellowships which have just been announced by the Irish Research Council.

These positions are of one or two years’ duration starting from 1st October 2020. The research relating to the fellowship can be in any discipline (including Astrophysics and Cosmology, hint hint….) and can be held in any University in the Irish Republic (including Maynooth, hint hint..). These positions are intended for early career researchers; applicants are required to have a PhD by May 2020 but not have been awarded it before May 2015.

The deadline for completed applications is 20th November 2019.

For further information, see here.

Anyone interested in applying to hold one of these positions in Maynooth is welcome to contact me privately for advice and/or assistance!

More on Comments

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on September 29, 2019 by telescoper

At the end of the month I usually give the blog a bit of a clean out, especially the blocked comments that have accumulated in my filter. Here’s just a sample of the contributions from my admirer, Mr Hine. These are just a few of the dozens of comments he’s failed to post here. No doubt he’ll try to post some more gibberish when he sees this but although I know it makes me a bad person, I just can’t resist winding him up.

Research Evaluation

Posted in Uncategorized on September 27, 2019 by telescoper

I get quite a few of these spam invitations to fake academic conferences, but I have never had one before with such an obviously back-handed compliment about the quality of my research!

Eleven Years a-Blogging

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on September 16, 2019 by telescoper

I received the little graphic above from WordPress yesterday to remind me that today is the 11th Anniversary of my first blog post, on September 16th 2008. If this were a wedding it would be a steel anniversary…

To be precise, the graphic reminded me that that I registered with WordPress on 15th September 2008. I actually wrote my first post on the day I registered but unfortunately I didn’t really know what I was doing on my first day at blogging and I didn’t actually manage to figure out how to publish this earth-shattering piece. It was only after I’d written my second post that I realized that the first one wasn’t actually visible to the general public because I hadn’t pressed the right buttons, so the two appear in the wrong order in my archive. Anyway, that confusion is the reason why I usually take 16th September as this blog’s real anniversary.

I’d like to take this opportunity to send my best wishes, and to thank, everyone who reads this blog, however occasionally. According to the WordPress stats, I’ve got readers from all round the world, including the Vatican!