Through a Lens Darkly

Richard Massey

Well, yesterday’s colloquium by Caltech’s Richard Massey was a lot of fun, and really excellent. When faculty, postdocs and students are all chatting about it afterwards, you know it went well. This is what a departmental colloquium is supposed to do, and it happens when subject, level of delivery and speaker all come together in just the right way.

When the news about that lovely dark matter result broke some months ago, I got in touch with Richard to find out if he would come and tell us about it. He generously agreed (even though at the time he was swamped by the press and various media appearances), and yesterday was the day. While trying to find information about him for the talk I discovered that he was just graduating from Durham University (as an undergraduate) when I was arriving there in 2000. Small world.

Anyway, go and remind yourself of the result, if you like, by reading the earlier post. From the talk, and from talking privately with Richard, I got the sense that the weak gravitational lensing technique that they use to such dramatic effect (see the nice magnifying glass graphic in the background) is merely at the early stages of a wonderful and rich new window on our universe. He spoke at the end of hopes and prospects for various space and ground based wide field telescopes (currently on the drawing board and beyond) that may be deployed that would be entirely dedicated to gathering data for weak lensing analysis. I’m excited about the many things we’ll learn about our universe as a result.


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