Two astronomers. Separated by only 22 degrees, 58 minutes of latitude, 33 degrees, 29 minutes of longitude, yet seemingly worlds apart. Their common goal: figure out the very nature of the Universe and its womenfolk.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

The thesis is finished and now I have nothing to do...

God, how I wish that was true. When your an undergrad and you finish your exams: BAM! the next day your off gulping down pints, dancing half naked in the streets, singing songs of glorious accomplishment. After I submitted yesterday I felt quite happy but this morning its back to square one. Well maybe not square one, maybe square two. The point is however, that I have LOADS to do. I have a project Im working on with some people from Bonn, I have to prepare a lecture for the Birmingham conference, I have to prepare talks for when I go to California, I have projects with the millenium I can work on, etc etc etc. There is no end in sight, no vacation, no respite from these hallowed halls, no break from the leviathan, the ever-hungry diluvium swamping ones life; no light at the end of the chunnel tunnel, no tip of no iceberg, no siesta for tapas eating hombres, no half time in the world cup of astronomy, no borg regeneration, no time outs, no sleep.

In fact its about time i get to work.

The only benefit is that the time bomb in the back of my head has been defused.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

It's Gordon. GOR-DON. I'm not your fooking MATE.

Geachy's timely move into the Ferens Ghetto has gifted me with a new telly - the picture is much better than my old one and it has audio output, so I can pipe the noise into my hi-fi. Consequently I can listen to Gordon Ramsay say the word f*ck at 140dB now that "The F Word" is back on Channel 4. Don't expect to see me on Wednesday nights anymore, for I suspect my love of cooking is about to return...

Yet another thesis from OC320...

Many congrats to Noam who submitted his thesis to the grad school today - look how happy he is:

Awesome hat. Hopefully he'll now have enough time on his hands to write something on here.

Estimated time to next OC320 thesis? Don't hold your breath.


Dear readers...a thousand apologies for the quiet times on the 'mofos. Hopefully this'll make up for it. Was away over the weekend in Shropshire - lovely place, lots of peace and quiet, lots of hills, and lots of beer. Tuesday was spent in London back at the House of Commons with other winners (that's right *winners* - some people are born that way ho ho ho) from the science competition. Met some nice, clever people who do interesting work (I'll never think of mucus in quite the same way again), and was relieved to discover that even among fellow scientists the words "I'm a cosmologist" draw hilariously misplaced respect. If only they knew...

Friday, June 23, 2006

More Street Fighter II related antics...and other stuff too.

My better half recently pointed out that some old Uni pals of hers once acted out and photographed the SFII endings. We found them on the web - I think you'll enjoy them, click here to check them out. Nice to see that there are lower-tech people than us out there still.

On other news, StalkCounter continues to amuse - Noam's rant about the role of rabbits in the story of Christ's resurrection drew a lot of hits last week, and Nic Ross has clearly been following our lives while he's at the World Cup. Also of note, in spite of eschewing the general astronomy community and living in their own "wing" (ghetto?), it seems a small band of renegades from the instrumentation group are also following our cause to solve the Universe. I'm not sure that older members of Durham's astronomy community would approve of such non-separatist behaviour...

Wednesday, June 21, 2006



Craig and I have proposed that we have a Street Fighter II tournament, in honour of the foundation of the Dhalsim Movement (the Dalsim* development team + friends). Only problem is we need a SuperNES and a copy of the game. Does anybody have these?

Anyway - would anyone be interested? If so we'll do our best to acquire the machine and game and we'll have a draw etc.

* Dalsim is now officially an acronym for Dynamic Analysis for Large SIMulations. Hope that clears the confusion.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

A pointless calculation

I'm an expert in pointless calculations - I perform millions of them everyday, usually because I've screwed up a parameter file. I made one by hand today though, and it was catalysed by Jim1. He walked into OC320 and declared:

"John and I have decided that the Universe is really big."

Of course, they're right - although PPARC might argue that this doesn't constitute original research. Anyway, since z=10 is about the furthest we can see, we wondered just how far away that is, in real terms. Geachy's cosmology calculator puts z=10 at about 1.6 Gpc in the fashionable cosmology. We worked out it'd take ~10^18 yrs to lazily walk that far, without accounting for toilet breaks. That certainly is a long time, especially when you consider that in that time the Universe itself could have evolved from the Big Bang to its present state 120 million times over.

So, in conclusion, the Universe *is* really, really, really bloody big. And yet amazingly four of us still have to cram into this office...

Friday, June 16, 2006


How does he do that, and moreover, why does he do that?

Thursday, June 15, 2006


Let's hope we tonk Trinidad and Tobago tonight. No team has really set the finals alight yet - if this boy plays there'll be some frightened defenders in Germany.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Yoghurt Pot Man

I notice today that Steve "Yoghurt Pot Man" Sproats is here today putting up some more of his cosmologically inspired pieces of modern art around the ICC. I like the idea of having art around the building, but I'm amazed that the only deliberate attempt to demonstrate the awesome beauty of the cosmos (surely one of the foremost reasons for becoming an astronomer) is the green galaxy (M74?) in holographic form we have by the main ICC doors - and it's only there as a comparison for Takashi's simulation.

Why the hell don't we have some huge, full colour (false if necessary) images of the crazy stuff we study? I'd also love to see some of the great images coming out of simulated data now too, since they are a testament to progress in our understanding of how the Universe boogies to the melody of cosmological physics. I'll take this to Carlos on Wednesday, because I'd rather have a whopping image of M81 spewing H-alpha into the ISM, or a picture of some simulated large-scale structure, than some more yoghurt pots on the wall.

I'm interested to hear other people's thoughts on this one - please do comment.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Othello: Act II (Cyprus)

Apologies for the delay, but I got there in the end! Only had one taker for "Othello in Pictures" - come on people, Jim2 and I can't do it all ourselves...


Act II sees Iago develop and commence the execution of his sneaky plan. The act starts with the characters arriving safely on Cyprus, and we learn that the Turkish fleet has been destroyed by storms. Othello throws a party, to celebrate the passing of the threat and also his wedding. He leaves Cassio and Iago on duty as guards, and takes Desdemona off to consumate the marriage. Wahey!

Iago discovers that Cassio is a lightweight and gets him drunk on the party wine. He then tells Roderigo to start a fight with him; the fight ends up in the guard house, where Iago is telling Montano, another Venetian nobleman, about Cassio's drunkenness. Montano restrains Cassio while Roderigo flees and alerts the party of a mutiny. Othello, disturbed from his "other business" enters to find Cassio and Montano with swords drawn.

Ever trusting of Iago, Othello asks him what has happened. Iago pretends to be loyal to Cassio, and his account cleverly implies that Cassio was at fault. Othello's attitude turns and he strips Cassio of his rank. Cassio is ashamed of his drunken behaviour, and laments his luck to Iago. Iago urges him to take his case for reinstatement to Desdemona; he can then convince Othello that Cassio and Desdemona are having an affair. Clever bugger.


Hope that keeps you sated for now. More Shakespearean antics after my return from Nottingham.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Blobby blobby blobby

What were they thinking?

Sunday, June 04, 2006


Just like the water, my creative juices have dried up of late. The result: little blog activity. I apologise for this - Jim1 seemed to be particularly upset by this.

Best thing to discuss: how great was Saturday? England whoop ass in the football (making up for a lack-lustre second day of the test), Durham beat Northumbria at the racecourse (giving us an awesome day in the sun with beers) and then I clean up at poker for the first time ever. YESSSSSS!

I'll try to get Act II of Othello done soon. I'm thinking we should do a pictorial "story-board" type overview - if anyone wants to help out with this please say so, you might become famous (Jim2, I'm especially appealing to you here).