Showing posts from February, 2014

The challenge of the modern scientist is to avoid career suicide

A new article in The Conversation called The Challenge of the Modern Scientist is to Avoid Career Suicide.

Happy to discuss this in more detail below

Bird need a cap on cats

Ultra-quick post. I published a letter in the Sydney Morning Herald, not on astronomy, but on risk and statistics. This is in response to some responses about wind turbines.

Higgs would not make it in modern academia - so what?

It's been a very busy week, hosting the ANITA 2014 Workshop and Summer School. It was an extremely good meeting, but has been quite exhausting. But today, a post about something that has been bubbling in my mind since the end of last year. Be warned, it's a bit of a ramble.
In The Guardian, physicist Jim al-Khalili reported on a chat he had with the new uber-famous Peter Higgs.  In the article, Higgs reported that he "wouldn't be productive enough for today's academic system". (Actually, there's a couple or articles on this in the Guardian, the most recent, involving al-Khalili is here). Some have interpreted this as being a sign that academia is broken, and this opinion rings through the ultimate commentators on the web, those on slashdot.
I have also heard similar comments from early- and mid-career researchers who are staring down the barrel of the leaky pipe of academic careers.
How can a Nobel prize winner be unemployable?
Before I continue, I need …

The oldest star in the universe? Maybe, maybe not!

Lightening post, as I've got to get on with cooking some Tandoori Chicken!

I've written my thoughts on the recent reports that the oldest star in the Universe has been found in an article in The Conversation. It's a great discovery, but I take a swipe at scientific reporting. More soon.

ps - I'm now followable on twitter at @Cosmic_Horizons

Hydrodynamical simulations of coupled and uncoupled quintessence models II: Galaxy clusters

Time for a quick post, and a follow-up paper to this one which I posted recently. 
As I mentioned, one of the key things people are looking at at the moment is whether the dark sector, which includes dark matter and dark energy, can evolve, change and interact over time. We're keen to understand the influence of an evolving dark sector on the formation and evolution of structure in the Universe, and for that we need numerical simulations.
Now, these simulations are not easy. To get enough resolution, you need to run them on supercomputers, and you also need to be careful that you have correctly included the required physics. And that's what we have. The goal of this second paper is to ask the question "How does an evolving dark sector influence the number and properties of galaxy clusters in the Universe?"
Galaxy clusters are the biggest agglomerations of mass in the Universe, so they are easy to find in our simulations. 
As I mentioned, the interacting dark sector …

Can we see objects moving faster than the speed of light?

I'm a big fan of Derek Muller's youtube channel Veritasium. It discusses lots of cool scientific topics, and presents a deep understanding of the underlying physics in a fun and entertaining manner. His most recent video asks the question "Will this go faster than light?", looking at ways of failing to break the Universal Speed Limit.

Right at the end, Derek discusses the speed of light in a cosmological context, and mentions that out in the expanding Universe, there are galaxies that are moving away from us faster than light, which he then goes onto say that we can't see because of their speed.

Is this correct? Derek is in good company, as lots of renowned physicists have made similar comments; here's Richard Feynman (taken from this great article which I very much recommend if you are interested in this topic).
But alas, even the great Feynman can be wrong.

Want to see something moving faster than light? Here you go.
This, of course, is the Cosmic Microwav…