Archive for Royal Institution

Two Hundred Years of Tyndall

Posted in Beards, History, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , on August 2, 2020 by telescoper

Just a short post to mark the fact that celebrated Irish physicist John Tyndall was born 200 years ago today, on 2nd August 1820.

Tyndall made his name initially for his research on diamagnetism but then worked on the scattering of light by atmospheric particles, and on the absorption of infrared radiation by gases. In the latter context he is generally credited with having discovered the Greenhouse Effect.

One should also mention his rather splendid beard.

John Tyndall was born at Leighlin Bridge, near Carlow in Ireland. After a little formal schooling, he gained a practical education by working as a surveyor and engineer. He entered the University of Marburg, Germany, in 1848 and earned his doctorate two years later. His dissertation research interested Michael Faraday, who later brought him to the Royal Institution of London. In 1867 Tyndall succeeded Faraday as superintendent there. He retired in 1887 and died in 1893.

The excellent Tyndall National Institute in Cork is named in his honour.

Cosmology: Galileo to Gravitational Waves – with Hiranya Peiris

Posted in The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , on September 9, 2016 by telescoper

Here’s another thing I was planning to post earlier in the summer, but for some reason forgot. It’s a video of a talk given at the Royal Institution earlier this year by eminent cosmologist Prof. Hiranya Peiris of University College London. The introduction to the talk goes like this:

Modern fundamental physics contains ideas just as revolutionary as those of Copernicus or Newton; ideas that may radically change our understanding of the world; ideas such as extra dimensions of space, or the possible existence of other universes.

Testing these concepts requires enormous energies, far higher than what is achievable by the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, and in fact, beyond any conceivable Earth-bound experiments. However, at the Big Bang, the Universe itself performed the ultimate experiment and left clues and evidence about what was behind the origin of the cosmos as we know it, and how it is evolving. And the biggest clue is the afterglow of the Big Bang itself.

In the past decade we have been able to answer age-old questions accurately, such as how old the Universe is, what it contains, and its destiny. Along with these answers have also come many exciting new questions. Join Hiranya Peiris to unravel the detective story, explaining what we have uncovered, and how we know what we know.

Hiranya Peiris is Professor of Astrophysics in the Astrophysics Group in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at University College London. She is also the Principal Investigator of the CosmicDawn project, funded by the European Research Council

She is also a member of the Planck Collaboration and of the ongoing Dark Energy Survey, the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope. Her work both delves into the Cosmic Microwave Background and contributes towards the next generation galaxy surveys that will yield deep insights into the evolution of the Universe.

I’ve heard a lot of people talk about “Cosmic Dawn” but I’ve never met her…

Anyway, here is the video. It’s quite long (almost an hour) but very interesting and well-presented for experts and non-experts alike!

Update: I’ve just heard the news that Hiranya is shortly to take up a new job in Sweden as Director of the Oscar Klein Centre for Cosmoparticle Physics. Hearty congratulations and good luck to her!


Royal Institution: Crowdfunding the opposition?

Posted in Science Politics with tags , on June 3, 2013 by telescoper

Not long ago I posted an item about the Royal Institution’s daft attempt to trademark the title “Christmas Lectures”. Here’s a possible way to challenge it, suggested by fellow astroblogperson Dave Clements…

Disturbing the Universe

Having had further discussion with my friend the IP lawyer, it seems the chances of invalidating the RI’s trademark claim on Christmas Lecture are rather good. But there would be costs and the need for a contingency if it goes to court and the RI win and are awarded costs.

So – anybody interested in crowdsourcing the costs? A sum of about 3k would be needed.

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In defence of the Royal Institution

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on January 22, 2013 by telescoper

Just a quick reblog to draw attention to the campaign to save the Royal Institution from oblivion. Following catastrophic management by Susan Greenfield when she was Director of the RI, it is now virtually bankrupt and forced to contemplate the sale of the historic buildings in Mayfair it has occupied for over two hundred years. Please support the campaign.

Save the Ri

I am pleased to join forces with, and lend my support to, the Save21AlbemarleStreet campaign set-up last Friday by Mary R. Perkins.  The following statement reflects discussions we have been having. A new joint website will be appearing later, and in the meantime I encourage people to follow @Save21Albemarle on Twitter and, for those on Facebook, to join the group:

Thank you to the overwhelming level of support so far.  I apologise for not replying to each email individually – there are just too many!


Campaign to Save the Royal Institution

“We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.”  So wrote Winston Churchill, and there is no building anywhere in the world to which this profound observation applies more than the Royal Institution.  We can move all the books in the British Library to a new building, as has been done, and we can move all…

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