Archive for the Uncategorized Category

The View from the Castle Keep

Posted in Uncategorized on February 12, 2017 by telescoper

I couldn’t resist sharing this wonderful photograph, taken in 1957 by Jimmy Forsyth from the top of the Castle Keep in Newcastle upon Tyne, looking South across the Tyne towards the Midlands.

The two historic bridges in view are the Swing Bridge (left; completed in 1876) and the High Level Bridge (right; completed in 1849). The more famous Tyne Bridge is just out of shot to the left of the frame.

The picture was posted by the Twitter account of  Tyne & Wear Archives a few days ago.

Enough work…

Posted in Uncategorized on February 4, 2017 by telescoper

Refugee Blues

Posted in Poetry, Uncategorized with tags , , , on January 29, 2017 by telescoper

Say this city has ten million souls,
Some are living in mansions, some are living in holes:
Yet there’s no place for us, my dear, yet there’s no place for us.

Once we had a country and we thought it fair,
Look in the atlas and you’ll find it there:
We cannot go there now, my dear, we cannot go there now.

In the village churchyard there grows an old yew,
Every spring it blossoms anew:
Old passports can’t do that, my dear, old passports can’t do that.

The consul banged the table and said,
“If you’ve got no passport you’re officially dead”:
But we are still alive, my dear, but we are still alive.

Went to a committee; they offered me a chair;
Asked me politely to return next year:
But where shall we go to-day, my dear, but where shall we go to-day?

Came to a public meeting; the speaker got up and said;
“If we let them in, they will steal our daily bread”:
He was talking of you and me, my dear, he was talking of you and me.

Thought I heard the thunder rumbling in the sky;
It was Hitler over Europe, saying, “They must die”:
O we were in his mind, my dear, O we were in his mind.

Saw a poodle in a jacket fastened with a pin,
Saw a door opened and a cat let in:
But they weren’t German Jews, my dear, but they weren’t German Jews.

Went down the harbour and stood upon the quay,
Saw the fish swimming as if they were free:
Only ten feet away, my dear, only ten feet away.

Walked through a wood, saw the birds in the trees;
They had no politicians and sang at their ease:
They weren’t the human race, my dear, they weren’t the human race.

Dreamed I saw a building with a thousand floors,
A thousand windows and a thousand doors:
Not one of them was ours, my dear, not one of them was ours.

Stood on a great plain in the falling snow;
Ten thousand soldiers marched to and fro:
Looking for you and me, my dear, looking for you and me.

written in 1939 by W.H. Auden (1907-1973)


Posted in Uncategorized on January 25, 2017 by telescoper

The writer of this post – known as “GavTheBrexit” on Twitter – invites readers to share it, so I’m doing so now.
Anyone with any knowledge of physics whatsoever (even pre-GCSE) is invited to comment on the “theory” presented in the post.

Is it now official UKIP policy to repeal the laws of gravity?

P.S. Note the widespread use of “FASHCAPS”…



Well science tells us GRAVITY is a magnetic force keeping us and all on the PLANET EARTH.

So let’s go with SCIENCE even though i have little respect for it in many cases as much of it are THEORIES , just as it is with GRAVITY ??,

We are told a man called ISAAC NEWTON gravity-is-a-liediscovered gravity and what its effects are after seeing an APPLE fall from a tree.Well i am here to say this is UTTER RUBBISH.

So let’s go with Newton’s THEORY and that’s all it is a theory ?? no PROOF whatsoever exists to this day to conclusively PROVE GRAVITY.But for the sake of this article we will go along with Newton’s theory.

Now Newton’s THEORY is basically we are stuck to earth due to a MAGNETIC force or an ATTRACTION of sorts ?.

Now this would make sense if we didn’t have MASS…

View original post 706 more words

Sci-Comm: What is to be done?

Posted in Uncategorized on January 25, 2017 by telescoper

Very important post which articulates some serious issues around science communication, especially that “outreach” needs to be far more than a problem exercise or an element of a recruitment strategy, which is how it has come to be viewed in many universities.

Literacy of the Present

Science communication has failed

Rearranging the furniture in the White House are a President who said climate change was a hoax, and a Vice-President who does not accept the theory of evolution. The rest of Trump’s cabinet is an equally deplorable bunch when it comes to science (or, indeed, anything else when it comes to being decent and humane).

I’m not blaming science communication for the election of Trump. But Trump’s Presidency is evidence that science communication has failed.

You might say that this has little to do with science communication, that Trump won the election on other issues but this only shows that science-based issues were not seen as important enough – also a failure.

And Brits should not be so smug either, with their vote for Brexit and their “had enough of experts”.

What we have clearly seen in recent months is that facts are not enough no…

View original post 1,043 more words

Bayesian weak lensing tomography: Reconstructing the 3D large-scale distribution of matter with a lognormal prior [CEA]

Posted in Uncategorized on January 11, 2017 by telescoper

Bayesian and Lognormal! How could I resist a reblog of this arXiver post?


We present a Bayesian reconstruction algorithm that infers the three-dimensional large-scale matter distribution from the weak gravitational lensing effects measured in the image shapes of galaxies. The algorithm assumes that the prior probability distribution of the matter density is lognormal, in contrast to many existing methods that assume normal (Gaussian) distributed density fields. We compare the reconstruction results for both priors in a suite of increasingly realistic tests on mock data. We find that in cases of high noise levels (i.e. for low source galaxy densities and/or high shape measurement uncertainties), both normal and lognormal priors lead to reconstructions of comparable quality. In the low-noise regime, however, the lognormal model produces significantly better reconstructions than the normal model: The lognormal model 1) enforces non-negative densities, while negative densities are present when a normal prior is employed, 2) better traces the extremal values and the skewness of the true underlying…

View original post 66 more words

R.I.P. Dick Fong 

Posted in Uncategorized on January 5, 2017 by telescoper

Just a quick post to pass on the very sad news that physicist and cosmologist Dr Richard Fong  – known to all his friends and colleagues as Dick Fong – died yesterday, on 4th January 2017.

Dick’s scientific background was in theoretical physics but he played a major part in the late 1970s and early 1980s in setting up and developing a group in cosmology and extragalactic astronomy in the Physics Department at Durham University. Dick was self-effacing about his own research but he was clearly an expert talent-spotter, bringing such luminaries as Tom Shanks, Richard Ellis and Carlos Frenk to work there. This initiative was extremely successful and Durham is now, and has been for many years, one of the world’s leading centres for cosmology research. Dick retired about fifteen years ago, but kept in touch with developments in the field. He leaves quite a legacy.

My own clearest memory of Dick was that he was on the panel that interviewed me for a research fellowship in 1992, just before the Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC) split up and spawned PPARC and STFC. Dick led the questions after my talk which I struggled mightily to answer, at least partly because I couldn’t really work out what he was asking! He was always a bit cryptic when talking about physics. Despite this I was awarded the Advanced Fellowship, which really established my own academic career and led to my first faculty position.

As well as that  very personal reason for remembering Dick, there is another which I’m sure will be shared by those who knew him and worked with him: he was a kindly and charming man who was always generous and helpful to others. He will be greatly missed by his friends and family, to whom I send heartfelt condolences.

R I.P. Richard Fong (1936-2017)