Kosmica: Ethereal Things

At the weekend I’ll be demonstrating some of my group’s work at the Kosmica event.  It’s an exciting collision of art and science, bringing together  Music, Theatre, Film and the Universe.  It will be a weekend to remember!

Please come along to take a voyage through the Universe and discover the unseeable…

Copy of KOSMICA-SUNDERLAND-POSTER-WEB

 

 

Cosmoscope

Cosmoscope is a sculpture by Simeon Nelson that captures the scales of the cosmos. Simeon worked with a team of scientists, including myself, and sound and software artists Rob Goodman and Nick Rothwell, to create an amazing compaction of the scales of the universe. Simeon succeeded in compressing the factor of 100 million-billion-billion-billion in size between the cosmic horizon and molecular materials into a complicex yet simple intertwined, pulsating metal lattice.

Here’s the link to the Durham Lumiere 2017 … you can read more about Cosmoscope here on Simeon’s website.

2R0A6692edit

After a successful run at the Durham Lumiere, its heading down to London for the Lumiere that starts next weekend (18-21 Jan 2018). Here I am interviewed by Simon Ings from the New Scientist, trying to explain the origin of order in the cosmos.  The video will be out soon.

IMG_7569

Time Machines

I’m involved with the opening of a new exhibition on Time Machines at the Palace Green Library in Durham. You can find out more about it here

Palace Green Exhibitions

It’s all about the fascination of time and time-travel and the magnet that those possibilities create in our minds. I’m currently writing up an article for The Conversation… more soon…

Motorsport at the Cafe Scientific

I’m giving a talk at the Cafe Scientific – its held at Durham’s Empty Shop on Saturday 29th October, starting at 3.45. Fascinated? come along to find out more.

This is abstract …

The Physics of Motorsport

What does Motorsport have to do with Cosmology? I love the broad span of physics. Both Cosmology and Formula One are a matter of understanding, of seeing through complicated equations to the principles that underly them, of developing an intuition about how things – in this case, cars and galaxies – will behave under extreme conditions. So while my day job, as a Cosmologist, is understanding the Universe, I have a secret life understanding how racing cars work.

In this meeting of the Cafe Scientifique, I’ll take us on a journey in pursuit of the ultimate racing car. We’ll design our racer as a though experiment, applying simple physics to understand the trade-offs that make a car a winner. Our journey will let us understand what makes a car skid and what ultimately limits its lap time. It’ll help us understand how real-world cars work, and I hope you’ll see the cars roaring around the circuit in a new way.

The material I’ll present formed the basis of a BBC article that I co-wrote with Jenson Button… who knows where this journey might take us next!

 

 

The dark nemesis of galaxy formation: why hot haloes trigger black hole growth and bring star formation to an end

I’ve just submitted a new paper to MNRAS, the professional journal of astronomy… its all about black holes and how they bring star formation in galaxies to an end, creating two distinct galaxy types and making the Universe look the way it is. Far from being exotic predictions of Einsteins General Relativity, it seems that black holes play a fundamental role in shaping the observable universe.

bh_plots_sfgrowth_mstar

Here’s the paper’s abstract, click to get a link to the paper… Continue reading The dark nemesis of galaxy formation: why hot haloes trigger black hole growth and bring star formation to an end

What does Cosmology have to do with Formula One?

bbc web pageIt’s great – a while ago I had the opportunity to teach a course on Physics and Motorsport. It was a great way of uniting two of my passions.

Now this is taking a new direction, and I’ve been contributing to a BBC article on technology in Formula One. “Would Formula One be more thrilling without cutting edge tech”.

I love the broad span of physics. Both Cosmology and Formula One are a matter of understanding, of seeing through complicated equations to the principles that underly them,  of developing an intuition about how things – in this case, cars and galaxies – will behave under extreme conditions.

 

Re-live the Durham 2015 Lumiere

 

durham_lumiere

Ross Ashton has just sent me the “official” video of the World Machine installation from Durham Lumiere 2015. If you missed out, now you can relive the experience. If you want to recreate the amazing atmosphere, you’ll need about 200,000 friends and some huge speakers to carry the depth of John Del’Nero/Isobella Waller-Brige’s amazing sound track. Giles Gasper suggests that for the complete experience,  you’ll also need a bucket of water to pour over your head while you watch… it poured with rain.

Hopefully we can bring the real thing to a dark night near you. Let me know if you have a 12th Century Cathedral that I can borrow.

LDSS at the Las Campanas Observatory

It’s amazing. I’m at the Las Campanas Observatory, using the LDSS (low Dispersion Survey) spectrograph. A triumph of North East engineering, she was built in Durham University in 1991 by a team of “real” engineers,  including John Webster. It was one of the first instruments to allow astronomer to survey the distant Universe and to see galaxies when the Universe was only a fraction of its present age.

In 2001, John and I moved LDSS to its new home at the incredible 6.5m Magellan Clay telescope. The instrument has evolved for strength to strength, using its solid engineering as a plot form for the latest technological developments in optics and, most recently, its CCD detector. LDSS is still at the leading edge of cosmology.

Now, here I am looking for some of the faintest galaxies in the Universe. Our new ‘Deep Depletion’ detector lets us find galaxies at even higher redshift, and clever electronics allow us to detect lower mass galaxies than ever before, revealing the secrets of how galaxies, and the nuclear elements they contain (such as the carbon and oxygen that we are made of) have been created over the history of time.