Astrotech and Cake

Last week included a trip to Edinburgh for STFC Council*. I arrived early (I recommend the night train, at least if you are within easy reach of Euston) and walked through Edinburgh in the mist to the UK Astronomy Technology Centre, which is nearly at the top of Blackford Hill to the south of the city centre. I’m not sure why it isn’t at the top of the hill, really. It is at the Royal Observatory, and in my experience astronomers always get themselves as high as possible.

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Is pink a real colour?

This is an important physics question, on which I gave an opinion in BBC Science Focus.

This week, after the fun travels of the previous week, I have mostly been marking Mathematical Methods III exams. I don’t really have anything to say about that so here’s a picture of Zorro having his breakfast.

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Guardian Science Weekly Podcast

Along Guardian Science correspondent Hannah Devlin, I discussed the flavour anomalies from LHCb with Madeleine Finlay for the Guardian Science Weekly podcast.

It is titled “Will the Large Hadron Collider find a new fifth force of nature?“. Hannah gives a nice introduction to the Standard Model and its limitations, and then we go into how the evidence for new physical phenomena are actually probed at the LHC.

The discussion moves to the more general topic of exploration at the LHC with all the experiments and with direct studies, although it may sound a bit as though I’m working on LHCb, which I am not, I’m sticking with ATLAS and these kind of differential cross section measurements, which will throw some light on possible explanations for the lepton flavour physics, of course.

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The clues that tell us when the Universe began

All being well, I’ll be in CERN tomorrow for the first time since the end of 2019. Given how routine this used to be, I am surprisingly nervous and excited (and less surprisingly resentful of the extra brexit-induced paperwork involved). The main reason is a Scientific Policy Committee meeting (where I am an observer on behalf of the UK delegation) followed by a trip to Grenoble to work with some collaborators and give a colloquium. Amongst those collaborators are Mohammad and Ingo, who I worked with on this paper. Mohammad was supposed to visit UCL as an MCnet student in 2020, but Covid intervened of course. This week I’m looking forward to meeting him in person for the first time. Another step towards business as previous/usual I guess.

After the LHC restart and the W mass kerfuffle last week (which will both obviously have longer-term consequences), here’s some cosmology. I am not a cosmologist, but then my cosmology friends comment on particle physics so I think this is allowed. Anyway, the article for BBC Focus is very big-picture-beginner-level stuff. If I can understand it, probably everyone else can too. Which is the goal, of course.

The two simple clues that tell us when the Universe began
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