Archive for the Uncategorized Category

Newcastle Up!

Posted in Football, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on April 25, 2017 by telescoper

I had a very full first day back at work after my holiday yesterday, which carried on after I had my dinner. So engrossed was in a research problem that I completely forgot that there was an important football match in the Championship last night. It was only when I finally downed tools – ‘tools’ in this case being pencil and paper – at about 11.30pm that I remembered that I should check the football results.

Last night’s game between Newcastle United and Preston North End (of the Midlands) finished 4-1 in favour of the home side (the one from the North). That result, combined with defeats on Saturday for Huddersfield and Reading in other games of the antepenultimate round of Championship matches, means that Newcastle have now secured promotion to the Premiership next season.

After last night’s match the top of the Championship table looks like this:


You will see that the maximum points total Reading can now  reach  is 85, Sheffield Wednesday 84, and Huddersfield Town (who have a game in hand) can only get 87, so Newcastle are guaranteed to be no longer than 2nd place.

At one point it looked like Newcastle United were going to take the Championship title by some margin, but they faltered in the last games while Brighton & Hove Albion kept up the pressure. It even looked at one point that Newcastle might fall into the playoff pack, but fortunately none of the chasing teams put together a strong enough run of games to catch them.

It’s anyone’s guess who will get the third promotion spot through the playoffs. Fulham and Sheffield Wednesday are both on good runs, but picking a winner out of those two, Huddersfield, Reading (and possibly Leeds) is very difficult.

Brighton look like being Champions now. They lost 2-0 on Friday away at Norwich City, when a win would have secured top spot, but they still only need 3 points to finish Champions. Mathematically, Newcastle could catch them but I’d say it is rather unlikely.

I do have worries about how well Newcastle might fare in the Premiership next season. Their home form has not been as good as one would have hoped this season, despite the fact that they regularly attract crowds in excess of 50,000 to St James’s Park.  Sometimes it seems that this increases the level of anxiety rather than spurring the team on. Moreover, I don’t think the squad has the quality needed to prosper in the top flight. The demands of the Championship are quite different from those of the Premier League. Manager Rafael Benitez knows this very well,  so I hope he is given the resources he needs to meet the new challenge. We’ll see.

Coincidentally, Newcastle United are on their travels on Friday for a match against Cardiff City…..


Cardiff March for Science

Posted in Uncategorized on April 22, 2017 by telescoper

Here’s a couple of snaps of today’s Cardiff March for Science. It was a friendly and fun occasion attended by (at a guess) a few hundred people.  

It started with a rally on the steps of the Senedd building:

The assembled throng then walked around Cardiff Bay to Techniquest. 

This one was taken by another participant, Jordan Cuff (a PhD student in Bioscience). I am actually in this picture, but you can only see my back…

It wasn’t a very demonstrative march -there was no chanting or anything like that – but then it wasn’t really intended to be a demonstration, more of a very polite celebration! 

Oh, and nice weather for it!

March for Science – Cardiff

Posted in Politics, Science Politics, Uncategorized with tags , , , on April 21, 2017 by telescoper

Just a quick note to say that tomorrow I’ll be attending the Cardiff March for Science, which is one of a series of events happening around the world. I quote:

The March for Science is a celebration of science.  It’s not only about scientists and politicians; it is about the very real role that science plays in each of our lives and the need to respect and encourage research that gives us insight into the world.

The Cardiff March starts with a rally at 10am on the steps of the Senedd in Cardiff Bay and is followed by a march around the bay to Techniquest for a science event there to which families with children are particularly welcome. It should be a fun occasion  There’s a science-themed fancy dress competition. I’ll be going as a middle-aged man with a beard.

For further details see here or follow the Twitter feed:



Important Announcement

Posted in Uncategorized on April 20, 2017 by telescoper

Right now. Pay attention, everyone.

In view of a sudden and unexpected increase in visits to this blog arising from specific Google searches, I feel that in order to avoid potential disappointment I should make it clear that the Anthony Garrett who comments regularly on posts here is not this Anthony Garrett:

Moreover, as far as I am aware,  the Anthony Garrett who comments on here has never been a professional photographic model nor has he ever lived in Miami.

I hope this clarifies the situation.

P.S. If the other Anthony Garrett would like to get in touch with me privately, he is most welcome to do so.

Interview with Daniela Saadeh: winner of the IOP Gravitational Physics Group (GPG) thesis prize

Posted in Uncategorized on April 20, 2017 by telescoper

On a much happier note, here is an interview with Daniela Saadeh, who won this year’s IOP Gravitational Physics Thesis Prize.

I’m reblogging this one as I happened to be external examiner for Daniela’s PhD!


Daniela SaadehDaniela Saadeh – UCL Astrophysics Group

CQG is proud to sponsor the IOP Gravitational Physics Group (GPG) thesis prize. This year the prize was awarded to Daniela Saadeh, who we have interviewed below. Congratulations Daniela!

Can you tell us a little bit about the work in your thesis?

A fundamental assumption of the standard model of cosmology is that the large-scale Universe is isotropic – i.e. that its properties are independent of direction. Historically, this concept stemmed from the Copernican Principle, the philosophical statement that we do not occupy a ‘special’ place in the Universe. In physical terms, this idea is converted into the assumption that all positions and directions in the Universe are equivalent, so that no observer is ‘privileged’.

However, assumptions must be tested, especially foundational ones. General relativity – our standard theory of gravity – allows for many ways in which spacetime could be anisotropic: directional…

View original post 687 more words

And on the Third Day…

Posted in Uncategorized on April 16, 2017 by telescoper

…Worcestershire won by eight wickets.

Before  I get to that let me catch up on the Second day of the County Championship match between Glamorgan and Worcestershire, as I didn’t have time to post  yesterday evening.

In generally fine weather, Worcestershire reached a total of 403 all out, including a century from Tom Kohler-Cadmore. Their innings closed just in time for tea.

In arrears by 196 on the first innings, Glamorgan really needed a good start, and they seemed to get that when openers Selman and Rudolph were still together with the score on 74. However, Rudolf and Lloyd  fell in quick succession and the innings became even more precarious when Selman was out. At stumps, Glamorgan were 141 for 3, needing another 55 to make Worcestershire bat again. Colin Ingram was still there and playing some shots so there was still hope.

Sadly, however, Ingram fell early on the third morning and thereafter, apart from Aneurin Donald (57), Glamorgan offered very little resistance. Donald was hit on the head by a nasty delivery from Josh Tongue. It looked bad but he carried on, only to edge one into the gulley two balls later. Josh Tongue took five wickets on his County debut, as Glamorgan were all out at about 12.30 for 223.

Needing only 28 to win, a Worcestershire victory was an inevitability though they did lose two wickets on the way.

Glamorgan’s batsmen can have no complaints. The conditions for batting were generally good throughout the match: not much sign of swing, not much movement off the pitch, and just a hint of variable bounce. They just didn’t perform well enough. There’s no question that the better team won. Glamorgan have lost their first two games of this season, but they mustn’t allow themselves to get demoralised. It’s one thing to lose a game on the pitch, but quite another when you start losing games in your own head.

Despite the result I enjoyed watching my first County Championship match as a Glamorgan member. I enjoyed the banter in the crowd, and saw some good cricket. It’s just a pity that not much of it was from Glamorgan..

Next cricket at Sophia Gardens is a one-day match a fortnight today against Surrey. Maybe they’ll have more luck in the limited-overs format?

St John Passion 

Posted in Uncategorized on April 13, 2017 by telescoper

Last night I went to St David’s Hall in Cardiff for a performance of the St John Passion by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and the BBC National Chorus of Wales under the direction of John Butt. The concert was broadcast live on BBC Radio 3, so you can listen to it for the next month on the BBC iplayer.

The St John Passion is on a smaller scale than Bach’s other (later) setting of the same story, the epic St Matthew Passion,  being almost an hour shorter and composed for a single orchestra and choir; the St Matthew Passion has two choirs and two orchestras. The St John Passion is nevertheless a very dramatic work, with many contrasts:  moments of intimacy expressed by solo voices lie in between grand chorales and orchestral interludes.

A few things struck me particularly in what was a very enjoyable concert. The first was the fine performance by tenor Gwilym Bowen as a rather boyish-looking but earnest Evangelist, a very demanding role. It’s interesting that the part of Jesus is so much more limited, though it was very well sung by David Soar (bass). Other solo vocalists were Elizabeth Watts (soprano),  William Towers (countertenor), Nick Pitched (tenor) and Ashley Riches (bass-baritone), as well as some members of the chorus.

The BBC National Chorus of Wales was in fine voice. Outnumbering the orchestra by a considerable margin they managed to generate a wonderful sonority without losing the ‘bite’ that this piece demands. This of all stories needs more than a pretty sound from the choir.

Another thing that struck me watching the orchestra was the phenomenal work of the principal bass, David Stark. He was constantly at work, adding the bottom notes to the accompaniment of the recitative as well as providing the foundation of the string section in the full orchestra. I hadn’t realised before quite how much the double bass had to do in this piece. I was close enough to see the density of ink on his score!

The orchestra for the St John Passion is relatively small but it’s used very cleverly by Bach. For example, there are several sections in which he uses two solo instruments whose melodic lines intertwine. Pairs of  flutes, oboes, cellos and violins all perform in this way at different times to wonderful effect. There is also a bassoon which, for this performance, was located among the strings rather than with the flutes and oboes.

With a piece like this it’s difficult not to reflect on the subject matter as well as the music. I’m not a religious man, but I don’t think you have to be a believer to appreciate that the power of the story of the Passion is its universality.  By that I mean that it demonstrates the capacity we humans have to inflict pain and suffering on each other. It also reminds us that one day we too will die. All we can hope is that it does not come in such an agonising way as it did for Jesus, but we all know it is going to happen. As Herodotus put it: “Call no man happy until he knows the manner of his death”.

I don’t believe that ultimate  hope for humanity lies in any kind of supernatural intervention, but that we have to make it on our own salvation in the here and now. That’s all there is. On the other hand, any species that could produce Johan Sebastian Bach can’t be entirely beyond redemption, can it?