Category Archives: Science

FameLab Finals

Michelle recently got through to the final 10 of the international FameLab competition during which she gave two talks; one on pulsar networks as detectors of gravitational waves and one on quantum fluctuations during inflation as the source of all structures … Continue reading

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Galaxy Bias is an Isocurvature mode

This is a post I started writing nearly a year ago and have only finally got around to publishing. Part of the reason for this are my doubts about whether I should simply hold back and write it up as … Continue reading

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FameLab and Radio script successes for Michelle

Congratulations to Michelle Knights who has won both the South African leg of the FameLab competition and first prize in the broadcast category of the Young Science Communicators Competition for her radio script called “The Great Debate”, a dramatised version of the real … Continue reading

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Entropy, oscillators and Nietzsche

I am giving two talks at a high school in Mauritius on Monday and in trying to imagine what might inspire 14 year olds, I started thinking of the cool physics videos out there (there are now also lots of … Continue reading

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The problem with Type Ia Supernovae

The 2011 Nobel prize was given to the two teams who discovered the acceleration of the Universe using Type Ia supernovae; a result supported by every other method sensitive enough to probe acceleration. However, it remains a disturbing truth that … Continue reading

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The most suggestive piece of mathematics I know

What is the most suggestive piece of mathematics you know? Aside from the feeling of suggestive similarities between Gödel’s theorem and the Uncertainty Principle, the answer to this for me has always been the subject of exotic manifolds. Exotic manifolds … Continue reading

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Steve Jobs, Malmquist Bias and the Accelerating Universe

While Steve Jobs is a villain to some and a hero to many, his 2005 Commencement Address at Stanford University (see below) is often held up as a classic of the carpe diem genre. It is a wonderful feel-good speech but something always … Continue reading

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Preparing for an academic Job Interview

We have recently gone through an extensive senior job search for a joint position and the questions we asked the candidates were fairly generic. But I remember my own early job interviews and how badly prepared I was for them, … Continue reading

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Intuitive explanation for time dilation

I was reading Jacob Bronowski’s The Ascent of Man this morning and came across a lovely thought experiment that gives intuition into time dilation that probably goes back to Einstein himself. It goes something like this. Imagine there is a clock. You … Continue reading

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Radical Research VII – Anyone Can Do Research!

One of the best trends in science outreach over the past decade has been the emergence of ‘citizen science‘ – the idea that the layperson could actually contribute to real science. But I find myself dissatisfied with the current state … Continue reading

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Joint Research Chair – Cosmology with Multiwavelength Data

AIMS, together with the University of the Western Cape (UWC) and the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO), has been awarded one of the recently announced  60 South African Research Chairs as part of the ongoing major investment in optical/IR and … Continue reading

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Radical Research VI – Thinking outside the box with a 3D poster

Perhaps I am unusual but I find poster sessions some of the most deeply frustrating sessions at conferences. I can see people have (usually) put a lot of work into their posters but I find them impossible to read given … Continue reading

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