Archive for Cape Town

R.I.P. Jonah Lomu

Posted in Biographical, Rugby with tags , , , , , , , , on November 18, 2015 by telescoper

At the end of the 2015 Rugby World Cup, I wrote a post recalling the World Cup of 1995, which was held in South Africa while I was visiting there. I had the privilege of seeing the great Jonah Lomu demolishing the England defence that day. Today I learned with greant sadness that he has passed away, aged just 40. Since Jonah Lomu played such a central role in one of the most amazing sporting experiences of my life, which lives in my memory as if it happened yesterday, I wanted to take the opportunity to pay tribute to the awesome sportsman that he was by sharing that memory again.

In 1995 was visiting George Ellis at the University of Cape Town to work on a book, which was published in 1997. The book is now rather out of date, but I think it turned out rather well and it was certainly a lot of fun working on it. Of course it was a complete coincidence that I timed my trip to Cape Town exactly to cover the period of the Rugby Word Cup. Well, perhaps not a complete coincidence. In fact I was lucky enough to get a ticket for the semi-final of that tournament between England and New Zealand at Newlands, in Cape Town. I was in the stand at one end of the ground, and saw New Zealand – spearheaded by the incredible Jonah Lomu – score try after try in the distance at the far end during the first half. Here is the first, very soon after the kickoff when Andrew Mehrtens wrong-footed England by kicking to the other side of the field than where the forwards were lined up. The scrambling defence conceded a scrum which led to a ruck, from which this happened:

Jonah Lomu was unstoppable that day. One of the All Blacks later quipped that “Rugby is a team game. Fourteen players all know that their job is to give the ball to Jonah”.

It was one-way traffic in the first half but England played much better in the second, with the result that all the action was again at the far end of the pitch. However, right at the end of the match Jonah Lomu scored another try, this time at the end I was standing. I’ll never forget the sight of that enormous man sprinting towards me and am glad it wasn’t my job to try to stop him, especially have seen what happened to Underwood, Catt and Carling when they tried to bring him down. Lomu scored four tries in that game, in one of the most memorable performances by any sportsman in any sport. It’s so sad that he has gone. It’s especially hard to believe that such a phenomenal athlete could be taken at such a young age. My thoughts are with his family and friends.

Rest in Peace, Jonah Lomu (1975-2015)

1995 World Cup Memories

Posted in Biographical, Rugby with tags , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2015 by telescoper

So, the 2015 Rugby World Cup final takes place this weekend. It’s been an interesting tournament with some memorable games (and some notable disappointments). Anyway, I suddenly remembered that in 1995 I was in South Africa during the Rugby World Cup. In fact I was visiting George Ellis at the University of Cape Town to work on a book, which was published in 1997. The book is now rather out of date, but I think it turned out rather well and it was certainly a lot of fun working on it!

Was that really twenty years ago?

Of course it was a complete coincidence that I timed my trip to Cape Town exactly to cover the period of the Rugby Word Cup. Well, perhaps not a complete coincidence. In fact I was lucky enough to get a ticket for the semi-final of that tournament between England and New Zealand at Newlands, in Cape Town. I was in the stand at one end of the ground, and saw New Zealand – spearheaded by the incredible Jonah Lomu – score try after try in the distance at the far end during the first half. Here is the first, very soon after the kickoff when Andrew Mehrtens wrong-footed England by kicking to the other side of the field than where the forwards were lined up. The scrambling defence conceded a scrum which led to a ruck, from which this happened:

Even more impressively I had a very good view when Zinzan Brooke scored at the same end with a drop-goal off the back of a scrum. Not many No. 8 forwards have the skill to do that!

It was one-way traffic in the first half but in the second half England played much better, with the result that all the action was again at the far end of the pitch. However, right at the end of the match Jonah Lomu scored another try, this time at the end I was standing. I’ll never forget the sight of that enormous man sprinting towards me and am glad it wasn’t my job to try to stop him, especially have seen what happened to Underwood, Catt and Carling when they tried to bring him down.

Anyway, I hope it’s a good final on Saturday. For what it’s worth, I did pick the two finalists correctly before the tournament. I’m expecting the All Blacks to beat Australia comfortably, but am not going to bet on the result!

The Long Weekend

Posted in Books, Talks and Reviews, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , , on April 5, 2012 by telescoper

It’s getting even warmer in Cape Town as we approach the Easter vacation. The few clouds to be found in the sky over the last couple of days have now disappeared and even the mountain behind the campus has lost its white fluffy hat:

It’s going to be a busy weekend in these parts over the forthcoming weekend. As in the UK, tomorrow (Good Friday) is a national holiday and there will be a 5K fun run around the campus. The temporary stands and marquees you can see in the picture are associated with that. On Saturday there’s a really big event finishing there too – the Two Oceans Marathon – which will finish on the University of Cape Town campus. At the moment it’s 30 degrees, but the forecast is to cool down a bit over the holiday weekend. Good news for the runners, but not I suspect for everyone who’s disappearing off for a weekend at the beach!

Anyway, I did my talk this morning which seemed to go down reasonably well. It was followed by a nice talk by Roberto Trotta from Imperial College in a morning that turned out to be devoted to statistical cosmology. I didn’t get the chance to coordinate with Roberto, but suspected he would focus on in the ins and outs of Bayesian methods (which turned out to be right), so I paved the way with a general talk about the enormous statistical challenges cosmology will face in the era after Planck. The main point I wanted to make – to an audience which mainly comprised theoretical folk  – was that we’ve really been lucky so far in that the nature of the concordance cosmology has enabled us to get away with using relatively simple statistical tools, i.e. the power spectrum.This is because the primordial fluctuations from which galaxies and large-scale structure grew are assumed to be the simplest possible statistical form, i.e. Gaussian.  Searching for physics beyond the standard model, e.g. searching for the  non-Gaussianities which might be key to understanding the physics of the very early stages of the evolution of the Universe,  will be more difficult  by an enormous factor and will require much more sophisticated tools than we’ve needed so far.

Anyway, that’s for the future. Cosmological results from Planck won’t be freely available until next year at the earliest, so I think I can still afford to take the long weekend off  without endangering the “Post-Planck Era” too much!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 5,185 other followers