Phil at LHC

Do you listen to the CERN LHC podcasts? They can be good. Every now and again, there’s a visitor there, and Brian Cox interviews them on site at the Large Hadron Collider. (Search archives for LHC or see links to lots of posts on it below, such as this one.) The most recent visit is by Phil Plait, aka the Bad Astronomer. They chat together about various aspects of the science to be done at the (soon to be switched on!) LHC, research in basic science in general, the scare-mongering business about the black holes destroying the earth (see here and here), conspiracy theories, and – of course – […] Click to continue reading this post

Tales From The Industry XX – Sporting Locations

Wow, doesn’t time fly when you’re having a busy semester! I meant to tell you about this early March shoot a while back, but got swamped and it fell off the desk. I recalled that I’ve been neglectful because I learned that the show in which some of this will be used will air on Tuesday night (9:00pm I think – “The Universe” on the History Channel). The episode discusses the end of the universe, as far as I know. The point is to discuss the various speculations that have been made about how the universe might end, and what current knowledge (such as the famous 1998 supernova observations showing that the universe’s expansion is accelerating) seems to suggest about which of those scenarios might be more likely. Of course, for the discussions to make sense, you need someone to talk about some of the basics, such as what it means for the universe (indeed, the whole of spacetime) to expand and collapse. Who you gonna call? history channel shoot - end of the universe
Ok. I’m one of many you can call. It was a new (to me) producer/writer, Savas Georgalis, who called this time, and we worked together on plans about how we might […] Click to continue reading this post

The Darwin Online Project

On NPR the other morning, I heard a piece about the Darwin Online Project. It sounds just amazing. I hope you find time to explore the site.

Extract from Darwin’s Notebooks

It has all sorts of fascinating things that you can download or view in the above (click for larger) manner (your very own copy of the Origin of Species, perhaps, or parts of his diaries and notebooks…), and is quite a treasure trove of one-stop-shop (but free) Darwin data. (There are even some of (his wife) Emma Darwin’s recipes.) The site is here.

Very importantly, the collection shows Darwin’s work in development, and not just the […] Click to continue reading this post

The LA Times Book Festival

Don’t forget – The LA Times Festival of Books is on this weekend. As I said earlier:

LA Times Festival of Books ImageIt’s a Los Angeles celebration of the written word, done in wonderful sunshine, with hundreds of marvellous events in three days for young and old – Yes, it is the LA Times Festival of Books, coming up the weekend starting April 25th. The main daytime proceedings take place on the 26th and 27th (Saturday and Sunday) […] Click to continue reading this post

Categorically Not! – Loops

The next Categorically Not! is on Sunday April 27th (upcoming). The Categorically Not! series of events that are held at the Santa Monica Art Studios, (with occasional exceptions). It’s a series – started and run by science writer K. C. Cole – of fun and informative conversations deliberately ignoring the traditional boundaries between art, science, humanities, and other subjects. I strongly encourage you to come to them if you’re in the area. Here is the website that describes past ones, and upcoming ones. See also the links at the end of the post for some announcements and descriptions (and even video) of previous events.

The theme this month is Loops Here’s the description from K C Cole:

“When you come right down to it, just about everything is loopy: planets, proteins or life stories, things have a way of coming around again, always with a slightly different spin. This month’s Categorically Not! was conceived as a tribute to Douglas Hofstadter’s new book, I am a Strange Loop, which uses […] Click to continue reading this post

When Worlds Collide IV: The Verdict is…

casino royale shootSo you’ll recall the shoot last year, right? Casino Royale theme? Where I got all dressed up in a Tuxedo at a club in New York that was kitted out as a Casino playing blackjack and so forth (click right) and getting very cosy with Ms Moneypenny? (Wait, that last bit didn’t happen.) Along with some actual stars, from entertainment, sport, fashion, etc? You don’t recall? Well, that’ll teach you not to use the blog’s archives more during your coffee breaks…

To recap (but please read properly about the background here), it was a photo spread with short bios for an annual piece called “Coming Kings” for a men’s magazine called “King”. I’d got the call out of the blue from them, and decided to do it since it’s an opportunity to do something a little different. To put some awareness of science and scientists in places where you normally don’t find much (if any) of it, rather than only targeting the more traditional crowds. It’s all about, as I said: […] Click to continue reading this post

Up for Air

early spring fig tree growthMorning cup of tea, and short reflection – coming up for air before diving back in…

It’s a bit of a mess here, time-wise. Just not enough hours in the day. Everything totally fragmented. Yesterday was grueling… here’s some of it:

Up at 5:30am, finding that I’m immediately thinking about a physics project for a bit (I fell asleep doing so, having been the whole evening in the Casbah drinking coffee and doing the same) before having to break off to get ready, get to office early to start an insanely busy day. Answer a ton of email, and deal with other online stuff, planning to ignore it for the whole rest of morning. Note that flimmaker/journalist friend B has sent me an email with a list of comments and suggested changes to my script for the Video. Got to discuss it with A, my collaborator in Chemistry on this. Whenever are we going to meet in the next few days? Sigh. (Must remember to do blog post about this new project, and how I ended up involved with the Chemistry department!)

After some dithering, decided to drive in, since the plan was to stay super-late and probably involve driving someone home.

Cold as I walk to the office from where I parked on the street. Mostly in my mind, and […] Click to continue reading this post

No Debate on Science

Sheril talked a little bit about the lack of a debate on Science by the presidential hopefuls, and pointed to a number of articles on the matter. Recall (from my earlier posts and many other sources) that she is one of the movers and shakers behind ScienceDebate2008. The candidates simply punted the issues.

Shame really. The Franklin Institute’s good china was all laid out and the space made ready to host the debate, and several were hoping it might really happen… But it was politics as usual on all sides, with lots of silliness, and pandering to the much more powerful “Faith” constituency.

Or, as Bob Park put it in his excellent “What’s New” column of the 11th April:


Excellent title! He goes on to say: […] Click to continue reading this post

Some Unusual Recipes

Quark  Gluon Plasma RecipesWell, I’ve been quiet here because I got rather swamped with lots of things over the last few days. The biggest thing was yesterday. I gave a colloquium at Caltech entitled “Cooking with Quarks and Gluons: Recipes from the String Theory Kitchen”. The abstract is given below. It is mostly based on what I wrote about last Summer.

With all the other things I had to do (including writing and giving two fun two hour lectures on cosmology in my undergraduate GR class) I still decided that it was time to totally rethink how I tell this exciting physics story, and how I present it. This meant designing and building many new slides. Each slide can take a long time to prepare, so this took two solid days of hiding away while designing and building them, only breaking for the other stuff.

Well, it was fun in the end, and today I am exhausted. I decided that you should not miss out entirely on the treats, so I made a little movie of the first parts of the talk to […] Click to continue reading this post

So What Are the Odds?

John Howe’s Glorund vs Turin imageWell, I’ve said (and pointed to) enough on the matter, but I could not resist a quote from today’s essay by Dennis Overbye in the New York Times (do have a look at the rest of it):

Besides, the random nature of quantum physics means that there is always a minuscule, but nonzero, chance of anything occurring, including that the new collider could spit out man-eating dragons.

Excellent! Proper flying, armoured, fire-breathing, talking, treasure-hoarding, […] Click to continue reading this post