Wednesday, 30 January 2013
Tuesday, 29 January 2013
Monday, 31 December 2012
|All seven flags of the Gemini partner countries fly proudly outside the Gemini Hilo Headquarters at 3pm today.|
|Gemini North Headquarters.|
|The Union Jack starts to be lowered by Gemini staff members Gabriela and Claire.|
|Folding the flag - it will be sent back to the STFC in the UK.|
|Careful! Don't let the flag touch the ground!|
|The flag is handed to Markus Kissler-Patig, Gemini Director.|
|I hope the UK government and STFC are proud of this picture.|
Happy New Year, everyone!
Wednesday, 19 December 2012
It was the best trip of my life. I think Pam enjoyed it as well.
Then it was back to work and dealing with the possible closure of UKIRT, running operations, etc. And then the utterly horrible, stomach-churning, distressing news from Newtown Connecticut. Twenty small kids shot dead along with the teachers that tried to protect them.
I have never felt so upset and I have yet to find a way to deal with the feelings I have. I love America, but how could this happen here? Not your normal shooting spree, that's terrible enough, but to shoot so many young children and their teachers?
Why? The country I moved to, one I love, with so many wonderful people, has people that can do this? Every day I meet people who want to help, have a chat in the store, joke about the weather, criticize my choice of beer or accent while giving me a high five on the way out. Wonderful people who want to stay in touch when I meet them in a distant hotel bar, offers of Thanksgiving dinners with people I've never met, people who go out of their way to help a stranded motorist at the side of the highway.
And then Newtown.
I'm sorry I haven't been posting here much, but perhaps you might like to watch a video which I always find helpful when I feel low. I know Pam will like it, several shots of the UK countryside! The music, Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings is my favourite piece of music and the poem is wonderful and moving.
Merry Christmas everyone,
Tuesday, 2 October 2012
Thursday, 5 July 2012
`"To our complete surprise, we found several red dwarf binaries with orbital periods significantly shorter than the 5 hour cut-off found for Sun-like stars, something previously thought to be impossible", said Bas Nefs from Leiden Observatory in the Netherlands, lead author of the paper. "It means that we have to rethink how these close-in binaries form and evolve."
Since stars shrink in size early in their lifetime, the fact that these very tight binaries exist means that their orbits must also have shrunk as well since their birth, otherwise the stars would have been in contact early on and have merged. However, it is not at all clear how these orbits could have shrunk by so much.'
Tuesday, 3 July 2012
Then again I have to give a talk about how wonderful UKIRT is despite dealing with the shut-down notice we got a month or so ago from the STFC. The presentation is scheduled for Friday afternoon, the penultimate talk on a Friday evening when everyone has gone home. Wonderful. I have a really good joke to tell as well...
Wednesday, 6 June 2012
What would you do given the following choice?
- You have two telescopes that between them deliver more science than any other observatory in the world. You can cut the funding for one of them but the cost of the remaining telescope increases so it costs the same as running both together. The result is less science but the amount of money spent doesn't change. Science becomes more expensive.
- You have two telescopes that between them deliver more science than anyone else in the world. You can keep both telescopes running until a cut-off date sometime in the future. It costs the same as running only one of them, but the science is doubled (actually, tripled going by current publication rates).
I'm curious if anyone else comes up with the same decision as the UK STFC, which is to adopt option 1.
Wednesday, 30 May 2012
From an STFC press release:
"Acting on advice and recommendations from its Science Board, Council has now agreed to:
• extend operation of JCMT to end September 2014, to allow for completion of the agreed science programme for the SCUBA-2 instrument on the JCMT;
• cease STFC support for the operation of UKIRT from end September 2013, a year after the completion of its current survey programme;
• extend operations of ING initially until March 2015, which will provide additional time for negotiations with existing partners with the goal of retaining continued access to the northern sky for UK astronomers."
The reason for ending support for UKIRT a year earlier than JCMT is unclear since there are no savings to be made here, UKIRT essentially comes for free as long as the JCMT is supported. The opportunity to take a year's worth of free data using one of the most scientifically productive telescopes on the planet is being thrown away. As are our jobs.
Saturday, 19 May 2012
UKIRT's productivity continues to rise