Trump the Child-catcher

Posted in Uncategorized on June 16, 2018 by telescoper

The above cartoon, protesting against ‘President’ Trump’s policy of forcibly separating young children from their parents and detaining them in cages, got the artist Rob Rogers fired from his job at the Pittsbugh Post-Gazette.

It seems fairly mild to me, given the enormity of what is going on, so I thought I’d share it here.

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Advice to anyone thinking of travelling with Eurowings

Posted in Uncategorized on June 16, 2018 by telescoper

Auf Wiedersehen, Bonn

Posted in Uncategorized on June 15, 2018 by telescoper

So here I am in Cologne-Bonn Airport waiting for my flight back to London Heathrow. The meeting carries on today with a ‘Garage Day’ but I’m skipping that because I don’t have a car.

Inevitably with Eurowings, my plane is delayed by over an hour, which means I’ll be very late back to Cardiff as I’ll miss the bus I had planned to get.

Update: The plane is now delayed by 2 hours and 10 minutes (and counting..)

The Rolling Stones are on in Cardiff tonight and the flight delay probably means I’ll be arriving exactly at the wrong time, when most of the city centre will be sealed off.

I’ve definitely learnt my lesson with Eurowings on this trip and will not be travelling with them again.

Anyway, the delay gives me an opportunity to thank all the organisers of the 2018 Euclid Consortium meeting, which was very well run indeed!

Euclid 2018: Day 3

Posted in Biographical, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , on June 14, 2018 by telescoper

It’s the morning after the conference dinner the night before, so as Day 4 of the Euclid Consortium meeting gets under way I’ve just got the time and bandwidth to do a brief post about the events of yesterday. First of all, the conference photo arrived and is shown above. You’d be hard pressed to spot me in it, as there are a lot of people in it (and bear in mind that only about a quarter of the membership of the Euclid Consortium are actually present here in Bonn).

Yesterday I went to splinter meetings related to the working groups on cross-correlating Euclid with cosmic microwave background data (morning) and clusters of galaxies (afternoon). The latter session produced the following diagram, which makes everything clear:

After the day’s work was done I took a walk down to the western bank of the Rhine (just about 15 minutes’ walk from my hotel), on the way to the conference dinner at the . Sadly, I didn’t see any Rhine Maidens or find any gold to make into a ring.

Anyway, the dinner was at the splendid Rhein Hotel Dreesen and I had the good fortune to sit with some Italian friends from way back – by which I mean over 20 years!

Fortunately I didn’t have far to go to get back to my hotel after the festivities!

Euclid2018: Highlights of Day 2

Posted in Biographical, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , on June 13, 2018 by telescoper

I’ve just had my breakfast so I thought I’d do a quick post before the start of play at Day 3 of the 2018 Euclid Consortium Meeting in Bonn.

Day 2 was largely devoted to updates from the various Science Working Groups, but there was also an important presentation from Jason Rhodes about WFIRST, which is in some ways a rival to Euclid, or perhaps a complementary mission depending on how you look at it.


There was dismay in the global astronomy community last year when Donald Trump proposed taking the axe to WFIRST but it was good to hear that Congress not only reversed his decision but granted it additional funds over and above the original request.

Among the SWG updates was one by Alessandra Silvestri from the Theory Working Group concentrating on how Euclid could be used to test cosmology beyond the standard model. She focussed quite a lot on Horndeski Gravity, which is the most general four-dimensional scalar-tensor theory that leads to equations of motion that have the form of second-order differential equations.

Towards the end of the day there was a session devoted to the award of the Euclid Star Prizes.

The individual awards went to Micaela Bagley, Carmelita Carbone, Teake Nutma, Bertrand Morin, and Stefanie Wachter; more details on the winners and the awards they won will be posted here. The team award was given to the Flagship simulation team. Coincidentally, I posted about the Flagship simulations last year. Much of the preparation for Euclid would be impossible without these simulations, and the award of a prize to the team is very well justified.

The day finished with short talks from each of the prizewinners. That brought to the end two days of plenary sessions in the big hall of the Stadthalle. The next two days will be the `Splinter sessions’ which are held in parallel.

Oh, and one other thing: the 2019 Euclid Consortium Meeting will be held in Helsinki from June 4-7. Looks like I’ll be spending my birthday in Finland next year!

P.S. Previous Euclid Consortium meetings were: Bologna (2011);  Copenhagen (2012); Leiden (2013); Marseille (2014);  Lausanne (2015); Lisbon (2016); and London (2017).

R.I.P. Bepi Tormen (1962-2018)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on June 12, 2018 by telescoper

Once again I find myself having to use this blog to pass on some desperately sad news. Giuseppe Tormen, universally known as Bepi, passed away on Sunday 10th June at the age of 56.

I knew Bepi mainly from the many visits I made to Padova in the 1990s and early 2000s. As well as many other useful and enjoyable interactions I had with him, Bepi also helped enormously in proving detailed comments and numerous corrections for the book I co-wrote with Francesco Lucchin. His contributions to cosmology were many and varied, but were always characterised by the same very high standard of integrity, insight, diligence and careful accuracy. He was widely admired as an excellent scientist and splendid colleague.

Bepi had been bravely fighting cancer for some time, having defied a very poor prognosis for several years with the aid of experimental treatment, but most recently he developed a brain tumour which sadly proved terminal. My deepest condolences go to his family, friends and colleagues.

Rest in peace, Bepi Tormen (1962-2018).

Bad Godesberg Goody Bag

Posted in The Universe and Stuff, Biographical with tags , , , , on June 12, 2018 by telescoper

So here I am, then, at the start of Day 2 of Euclid 2018 in Bad Godesberg. The morning session contains a number of talks giving updates from the various Science Working Groups related to Euclid. After yesterday’s talks had finished I checked into my hotel which is nice, and then headed off via the Stadtbahn (local underground system) to a pleasant reception of drinks and nibbles in the University of Bonn. I’m very impressed with the local public transport, by the way. With my hotel booking I received a pass giving free unlimited on all buses, trams, overground and underground trains in the area. I’ll post more about the meeting later if I get time, but in the meantime I thought I’d show the contents of the conference Goody Bag: I’ve got quite a collection of conference bags that I’ve accumulated over the years, but this is the first one I’ve got that’s a lurid green colour. There’s a mug and a bag of Haribo sweets (which, I’m told, originate in Bonn). There is also a book which I looked at last night. I found it rather lacking in both plot and character development, but that is largely attributable to the fact that all the pages are blank. The final item, which I originally thought was some form of specimen jar, turns out to be a glass for Kölsch, a kind of beer brewed in Cologne.