• Observing, days 3-4: galaxies and blank fields

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    After a couple of days of lousy weather, the sky cleared up and dried out Wednesday. Eventually, we got down to τ<0.08 — not quite the best possible conditions, but good enough for almost anything we might want to do. We started out slightly worse than that, but that meant we got to observe more…

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  • Observing, days 1-2

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    I am sitting in the control room of the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT), 14,000 feet up Mauna Kea, on Hawaii’s Big Island. I’m here to do observations for the SCUBA-2 Cosmology Legacy Survey (CLS). I’m not really an observer — this is really my first time at a full-sized, modern telescope. But much of…

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  • meTube

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    Some time last year, Physics World magazine asked some of us to record videos discussing scientific topics in 100 seconds. Among others, I made one on cosmic inflation and another on what scientists can gain from blogging, which for some reason has just been posted to YouTube, and then tweeted about by FQXi (without which…

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  • Academic Blogging Still Dangerous?

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    Nearly a decade ago, blogging was young, and its place in the academic world wasn’t clear. Back in 2005, I wrote about an anonymous article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, a so-called “advice” column admonishing academic job seekers to avoid blogging, mostly because it let the hiring committee find out things that had nothing…

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  • Teaching mistakes

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    The academic year has begun, and I’m teaching our second-year Quantum Mechanics course again. I was pretty happy with last year’s version, and the students didn’t completely disagree. This year, there have been a few changes to the structure of the course — although not as much to the content as I might have liked…

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  • Songs about f*&%ing

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    First, my apologies that I couldn’t resist the almost not-safe-for-work title, especially to those expecting posts about astrophysics and cosmology rather than a reference to a 1987 record by Big Black (which it’s worth pointing out can be found in its entirety on YouTube). But this is not a post about Big Black. Rather, it’s…

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  • The next generation of large satellites: PRISM and/or eLISA?

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    Today was the deadline for submitting so-called “White Papers” proposing the next generation of the European Space Agency satellite missions. Because of the long lead times for these sorts of complicated technical achievements, this call is for launches in the faraway years of 2028 or 2034. (These dates would be harder to wrap my head…

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  • Reformat

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    Another technical note: I’ve just reformatted the whole blog. Let me know if there are any problems (or if you just think it’s ugly).

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  • Infrastructure problems

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    Just a quick note that the blog has been having some issues with its infrastructure: pointers to individual entries seem to be broken. I’m on the case — apologies if you can’t get to anything you’re looking for. Update: fixed, I think. Let me know if there are any further problems. (The blog should be…

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  • TimeWave — Quest for the Grail: An International Adventure Game

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    About a year ago, I wrote about TimeWave a festival of art, science and technology coming this May to London, with tendrils snaking out to New York and LA. As part of the festival, we’re organising Quest for the Grail: An International Adventure Game, later this month: from noon to 5pm in London and right…

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