Archive for Niels Bohr Institute

LHC Lights up NBI

Posted in Art, Biographical, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , on November 16, 2012 by telescoper

Well, first things first. Congratulations to Dr Sabir Ramazanov on his successful thesis defence today! I’ll perhaps write a bit more about the process in due course.

After the formalities were concluded, however, the committee took a breath of fresh air outside the Niels Bohr Institute where, in the fading November twilight, we were treated to a peculiar light show; a set of small spotlights on the front wall of the NBI building is hooked up directly to the ATLAS experiment on the Large Hadron Collider at CERN so that every time an event registers in Geneva it is displayed almost immediately in public here in Copenhagen. Quite appropriate for a place so steeped in physics history. The resolution of the particle tracks is of course not marvellous, but it’s actually quite a remarkable thing to see, although not all that easy to catch it on camera, especially if you’ve had a couple of glasses of wine!

Flying Visit

Posted in Biographical, Education, Politics, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , on November 15, 2012 by telescoper

I’m still at home at 10am on a weekday, which is unusual, but that’s because I’m soon going to be doing the familiar schlepp to Heathrow airport in order to get a flight to Copenhagen. The purpose of this little trip is to participate in a PhD examination at the Niels Bohr Institute. I’ve never taken part in a Thesis Defence in the Danish system before, although I’ve done many equivalent examinations elsewhere, so I’m quite looking forward to finding out how it works. Will it be much different from the system we have in the UK? Probably, as it is a much more public occasion. Will that necessarily make it better? I don’t know. I was reading the thesis last night, actually, and it’s very interesting which is another reason to look forward to the occasion. I might even get time for some shopping too.

Anyway, before going to the airport I am going to pop along to the local polling station. Today is the day for the Election of the Police and Crime Commissioner for the South Wales Police Area. I’m going to the polling station not because I have a burning desire to vote – the list of candidates is extremely uninspiring – but because I feel I should register a protest at this farcical waste of public money at what is supposed to be a time of austerity. The political class in this country has never been held in lower esteem than at present and the last thing we need is more politicians, helping themselves to six-figure salaries at taxpayers’ expense.  More politicians does not mean more democracy. We already have local council elections, Welsh Assembly elections, General (Parliamentary) Elections and European Parliament Elections. We don’t need any more! This Election is a complete waste of time and money.

I intend, therefore, to visit the polling station and, instead of putting a cross in a box, write a strongly (but politely) worded message voicing my opinion on the matter thus spoiling my ballot paper. It will be the first time I’ve ever done such a thing, but this is the first time we’ve had such a stupid election.

Postcard from Brumleby

Posted in Biographical with tags , , on August 9, 2012 by telescoper

The last few weeks having been a bit chaotic, it’s probably a good idea to mention that I’m currently in the fine city of Copenhagen. This may come as a bit of a surprise to some of you, and it’s a long story how I ended up here at this time. I won’t bore you with the details, except to say I needed to get away for a while and with the help of friends and colleagues here I’m convalescing and trying to get back to doing some research at the Niels Bohr Institute, where I’ve been a visitor on many occasions.

As a matter of fact I’m staying in a very nice part of Copenhagen, called Brumleby, “an enclave of terraced houses” in many ways not dissimilar to Pontcanna, the part of Cardiff where I usually live. Incidentally the -by ending (pronounced “be” in English) which also can be found in many English place names, especially along the East coast, is pronounced more like “bue” in Danish. Footballer Jan Mølby’s name was constantly mispronounced by English commentators…

Brumleby has an interesting history. It was one of a number of social housing developments constructed in the mid-19th century in Copenhagen in response to a cholera outbreak caused by chronic overcrowding and insanitary conditions in the old city. The original name for Brumleby was Lægeforeningens Boliger, which means the “Medical Association’s Buildings” for it was set up by the Danish Medical Association, Den Almindelige Danske Lægeforening. Most of the other similar developments have now been demolished, but Brumleby is now listed and preserved as a conservation area. The apartments are small, but very cosy, and as an added convenience for me only about 5 minutes walk from the Niels Bohr Institute.

Thanks once again for all the kind and concerned emails and other messages I’ve received over the past few days and weeks. I’m definitely on the mend and will start on a `permanent’ programme when I return to Wales. I also apologize yet again to my work colleagues, visitors, students, etc, for being so erratic recently. One day, perhaps, you’ll understand and maybe even forgive.

Auditorium A

Posted in Biographical, Books, Talks and Reviews with tags , , , , , on June 8, 2011 by telescoper

Just back from a splendidly wine-laden workshop dinner, I thought I’d do a quick post. My talk was moved to this morning, instead of the scheduled slot in the afternoon I think it went OK considering that, in the spirit of a small informal workshop, I talked mainly about work in progess…

That’s the whiteboard in my office in Cardiff, by the way, not my talk this morning. Auditorium A has good old-fashioned blackboards.

An advantage of speaking in the morning was that after it was over I was able to relax with a beer at lunchtime, but in the warm weather that made it rather difficult to stay on the ball afterwards. I’ve lost track of the amount of time I’ve spent sitting (or even speaking) in the famous Auditorium A of the Niels Bohr Institute over the years, actually, but I don’t think I’ve ever taken a picture there, so here’s one.

On the extreme left you can see our genial host Pavel Naselsky; in the centre left with blue shirt and grey hair, pretending not to be asleep, is Leonid Grishchuk; beside him to the right is Subir Sarkar and next to him,  more-or-less hidden from view, is Holger Bech Nielsen who travelled backwards in time especially to attend the workshop. The knee in the foreground remains unattributed.

Here is an “official” workshop photograph, taken while the participants were looking a bit more awake, but before quite a few had made it back from lunch..

Signs of the Times

Posted in Biographical, Science Politics, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , on June 5, 2010 by telescoper

Well, I’m back from sunny Copenhagen to a very muggy Cardiff. I arrived by train just as this afternoon’s rugby match between Wales and South Africa finished so I got caught up in the crowds and had to follow a lengthy diversion to get home. I was a bit tetchy with the heat and feeling a bit tired, but feel a bit mellower now after a nice shower. Apparently it was a cracking game, with Wales losing narrowly to the Springboks in the end. I missed it all.

Not feeling like doing anything more energetic blogwise, I thought I’d just put up a few pictures of the trip before making dinner. I heard while I was in Copenhagen that there are plans to relocate the historic Niels Bohr Institute to new accommodation nearby. I’m very attached to the old place and I think it will be a terrible shame if the original buildings are flogged off or bulldozed. I believe that’s not going to happen but I’m not sure what their fate is going to be. Anyway, I asked one of the locals, Tamara Davis, to take a picture in front of the sign outside the old NORDITA  building, looking grumpy, to show my disapproval. I think she caught the mood perfectly.

Actually, Tamara isn’t really a local because she’s Australian, but she spends a couple of months a year in Denmark at the Dark Cosmology Centre, which is about ten minutes’ walk from the Niels Bohr Institute. I sat next to her at the conference dinner and found out that she’s also an international quality Ultimate Frisbee player. I wish I could pretend I knew what that was, but it sounds impressive. The fact that she’s training for a major event at the moment meant that she wasn’t drinking much wine so, being a gentleman, I drank the surplus on her behalf.

I wonder if there’s such a sport as Penultimate Frisbee?

Here’s another picture in front of the same building, featuring some folks from the workshop.

From left they are Dominik Schwarz (Bielefeld, Germany), Anthony Lasenby (Cambridge, UK), Carlo Burigana (Bologna, Italy),  Sabino Matarrese (Padova, Italy) and Paolo Natoli (Rome, Italy).

Last one shows the view in the evening sun looking down towards the picturesque old harbour area, called Nyhavn. I took this in anticipation of a nice cold beer among the crowds of people out enjoying themselves in the lovely weather. I wasn’t disappointed!

Discovering Copenhagen

Posted in The Universe and Stuff with tags , , on June 2, 2010 by telescoper

Here I am, again, in the fine city of Copenhagen in Denmark. It’s a lot warmer here than last time I was here, in January, but I’m here for a short meeting at the Discovery Center which we be held on the premises of the Niels Bohr Institute over the next few days.

It looks like being a funny little meeting, because  nobody is allowed to talk about any Planck results yet so most speakers are talking about extraneous matters, almost like they’ll be talking about their hobbies. Should be fun. I haven’t decided what I’ll talk about yet, but my talk isn’t until tomorrow…

I travelled yesterday from Heathrow Airport with Leonid Grishchuk who I met in the airport. It turns out he had checked in extra-specially early for the the short flight to Copenhagen. The result of this enthusiasm was that his bags didn’t arrive with the plane. After filing a lost luggage report the usually avuncular Leonid turned into grumpy Grishchuk for the short Metro journey downtown. I saw him at breakfast just now and he told me his bag had actually been delivered to the hotel late last night. All’s well that ends well. It sounds like it must have come on the later flight, which probably means it never left Heathrow.

I was worried for a while I was going to miss the flight because my train from Cardiff was late as a result of being stuck in the Swansea area behind a broken-down train. Despite the delay and the fact that only one automatic check-in machine was working at the airport, I still had plenty of time to make the flight. My bag was one of the first out of the carousel.

Our meeting doesn’t start until lunchtime, so I’m going to take a walk around and do a little sightseeing beforehand. I know the city fairly well, but it will be nice to see how things have changed over the years. If memory serves, I think the first time I came here was in 1988. Quite a few of the places I went during that time have now closed but then I’m too old now to go them anyway!