Archive for the Uncategorized Category

Classics in the Russell Library

Posted in History, Literature, Maynooth, Uncategorized with tags on January 9, 2020 by telescoper

Here’s a taster of the wonderful collection of books and manuscripts in the Russell Library at Maynooth University..

MU Library Treasures

Ruth O’Hara, Collections and Content

Ruth pic 1

Study of the classical world has been a staple of this University for centuries. The Russell Library’s classic’s collection, which was amassed largely by the early professors of St. Patrick’s College, is eclectic covering all areas of the ancient world and indeed it transcends disciplines. So, besides Homer and Virgil, for example, sit the poems of Catullus, the theological tracts of Ambrose of Milan, and the philosophical musings of Aristotle. One blog can’t hope to capture the extent and range of such a collection so, instead, I just want to look at some of the ways that we in the Russell Library continue to foster interest in this diverse subject area by integrating it into the research, teaching and life of the University.

We have found our classics collection to be a really useful resource for postgraduate students, for example, who engage with primary source…

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In defence of the indefensible.

Posted in Uncategorized on January 4, 2020 by telescoper

I came across this very interesting piece just now via Twitter. It’s not new but was circulated today, January 4, it is the birthday of Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland James Ussher, who was born in 1581.

The Renaissance Mathematicus

Friday was the 23rd of October and the Internet sceptics had a field day mocking one of their favourite punching bags James Ussher (1581 – 1656) Archbishop of Armagh. Ussher is notorious for dating the creation of the world to 6 pm on the 22nd of October 4004 BCE (and not 9 am on 23rd October as Pharyngula falsely stated) a fact that the hordes of Pharyngula and other similar self appointed defenders of scientism love to brandish as a proof of the stupidity of Christians.

1024px-james_ussher_by_sir_peter_lely James Ussher Source: Wikimedia Commons

However Ussher has a right to be judged by the social and cultural standards of his own time and not those of the twenty first century. Who knows which things that we hold sacred will be ridiculed by sneering sceptics in three or four hundred years? “Can you believe it in the early 21st century…

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The New Year’s Old Year Blog Statistics

Posted in Uncategorized on January 1, 2020 by telescoper

Here we are then, in 2020. I thought I’d see in the New Year by following the tradition of doing a quick blog about this blog.

Once upon a time, in the good old days, in the dim and distant past, WordPress used to publish an annual statistical summary page for its bloggers, but it has discontinued that practice so now I’ll just write my own brief summary based on the data available via the usual dashboard.

For those interested I got about 340K hits last year, just over 930 a day, with about 168K unique views. That’s down quite a bit (~19%) since last year. In fact 2019 saw the lowest visitor numbers here since 2010. I guess interest in my ramblings is waning out there. I’m just surprised it has taken so long!

Despite the sharp decrease, I still get more readers than I ever thought I would when I started way back in 2008 so I think I’ll keep going, at least for now.

Incidentally, there are 1652 followers of In The Dark on WordPress itself. These are fellow bloggers who use the built-in reader to access posts. I don’t know whether or not these are counted in the above visitor numbers.

In 2019 there were 1963 comments, also down sharply on last year. In the same period, however, posts received 1898 ‘likes’; that’s a big increase on last year’s figure. The most liked category, incidentally, was Poetry.

Altogether, since this blog started in 2008 to the end of 2019, it has been viewed about 4.1 million times by a total of 1.4 million unique visitors (though, obviously, all my visitors are unique).

Athbhliain faoi shéan is faoi mhaise daoibh go léir!

P. S. I don’t really go in for New Year’s resolutions but I really hope that this year I can sell my old house, buy a new one, and complete my relocation to Ireland.

Cosmology and Gravity Opportunities in the Czech Republic!

Posted in Uncategorized on December 31, 2019 by telescoper

I just received this message and thought I’d share it here as it might help some people with their New Year’s Resolutions…


CEICO welcomes applications for Postdoctoral Researcher positions in the fields of Cosmology and Gravity.

The positions are expected to start in September 2020 and are offered until 31 Oct 2022. An extension may be offered for an additional year subject to availability of funds. An earlier starting date is negotiable. The monthly gross salary is in the range 55 000 – 60 000 CZK from which tax, social and health insurance are deducted. We offer an annual 75 000 – 100 000 CZK (3000 – 4000EUR) travel budget. Candidates are expected to have completed a PhD degree in Physics, or a related field, before taking up the post.

Successful candidates will work in any of the following areas of research:

  • Late Universe cosmology (e.g. dark energy and modified gravity, dark matter, cosmological simulations).
  • Tests of the cosmological model, including statistical techniques, modeling of data and parameter estimation.
  • Theoretical aspects of gravity (e.g. gravity in quantum field theory, model consistency, screening mechanisms).
  • Strong-field gravity (e.g. tests of gravity with compact objects, physics of black holes, PPN formalism).
  • Early Universe cosmology (e.g. inflationary models, origin of the Big-Bang, inflationary model testing)

As part of CEICO, the researchers will have access to the team’s 1000 core computer cluster.

Please, see here for detailed information on the positions offered and the requirements, and to apply online.

The deadline for all application material (including reference letters) is 14 January 2020.

CEICO is a new research centre, established with funds from the Czech Academy of Sciences, the Czech Science Foundation, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports and the European Commission. The CEICO team is headed by Martin Schnabl and Costas Skordis and comprises staff members Michael Prouza, Ignacy Sawicki and Alex Vikman, senior scientists Ted Erler, Sergey Karpov, Joris Raeymaekers and Federico Urban and another nineteen postdoctoral researchers and graduate students. The team’s areas of research are: cosmology, gravity, string field theory, and instrumentation for cosmological observations. CEICO values diversity and is committed to equality of opportunity.

Further information about CEICO and its research programmes may be found at here.

Christmas by Bus

Posted in Uncategorized on December 29, 2019 by telescoper

A National Express Coach at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff

I spent Christmas in Newcastle this year. It was very pleasant although, of course, there was an absence that was keenly felt.

I was late organising my trip and by the time I did get around to it all flights were booked. I then looked at the train only to discover that Cardiff to Newcastle was both hideously expensive and heavily disrupted by engineering work. I could have afforded the ticket but resent paying so much for a poor level of service. I’d probably have had to stand for much of the journey too.

In the end I decided instead to take the National Express Coach from Sophia Gardens. Though slower than the cost was less than a third of the train fare and as it turned out it was quite a painless experience. Modern coaches have seats which are actually more comfortable than seats on the train, which always give me a bad back.

On the way there and back I had to change at Birmingham. The first leg from Cardiff to Birmingham was non-stop and stayed on the Welsh side of the Severn as far as possible.

The bus from Birmingham to Newcastle stopped several times in the Midlands – Leeds (where there was a 45 minute break), York, Middlesbrough and Sunderland – before arriving, on time, in the North. The traffic was lighter than I expected for Christmas Eve.

Newcastle’s old Gallowgate bus station is no more. The new one is on St James’s Boulevard, a road that didn’t exist when I was living in Newcastle years ago. The current location is handy for the local gay bars though.

Returning on Friday morning after two days in Newcastle, there was a slight rearrangement of plan as there were too many passengers to Birmingham to accommodate on the one bus. Some of us therefore transferred onto a second coach going only to Birmingham while passengers going further than that stayed on the original coach, whose ultimate destination was Paignton. Standing is not permitted on these coaches.

There was much heavier traffic on the way South but we arrived in Birmingham on schedule. I had quite a long wait so I wandered off and found a place to have lunch. When I got back to Digbeth bus station there was a deal of chaos as many buses were caught in traffic and delayed. I assumed mine would be too, so settled down to read a book only to discover my bus to Cardiff was on schedule.

The last leg of the journey took a different route from the first, via Bristol and Newport, which made it an hour or so slower but again we arrived on time. It’s only a short walk to my Cardiff residence from Sophia Gardens.

Inexpensive, comfortable, efficient and reliable: the National Express Coach service is everything the UK train service is not.

Boxing Day on Cresswell Beach, Northumberland

Posted in Uncategorized on December 26, 2019 by telescoper

TLS Editor Stig Abell & TV’s Rylan Clark-Neal head to head in final battle for Beard of the Year votes

Posted in Uncategorized on December 23, 2019 by telescoper

As last year’s joint* winner I feel I should remain neutral. I will say however that the Times Literary Supplement has an excellent crossword.

*I enjoyed the joint enormously.

Kmflett's Blog

Beard Liberation Front

23rd December

contact Keith Flett 07803 167266

TLS Editor Stig Abell & TV’s Rylan Clark-Neal head to head in final battle for Beard of the Year votes

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has said with the Beard of the Year 2019 vote closing at midnight on Christmas Eve it has become a battle of the beards between Times Literary Supplement Editor Stig Abell and Strictly It Takes Two and Supermarket Sweep host Rylan Clark-Neal

The winner is announced on December 28th following an Electoral College review of the poll leaders. This has become necessary in recent years because of bot activity on the poll.

The criteria for Beard of the Year is as follows:

The Award is NOT about people who grow beards in their bedrooms and post pictures of them on the internet

The Award IS about people with consistent…

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