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Take a look at my Bio entry to find out more about me.

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.

 

The World Machine at Lumiere

The World Machine is a daring new art work for Durham Lumiere 2015.

Over the past year I’ve been putting together a study comparing understanding of the Cosmos in Ancient Greece with its understanding in Medieval times and today. It’s been great to see many of these ideas inspire the “World Machine” and major art project for the Durham 2015 Lumiere. Its been a great pleasure to work with Carlos Frenk (Institute for Computational Cosmology) and Giles Gasper (Ordered Universe Project), together with a whole team of young people, on this project. Our role has been to supply many of the images and movies that underly the artwork. The World Machine is a major collaboration between our Art and History teams, projection artist Ross Ashton, sound designer John del’Nero, and composer Isobel Waller-Bridge.