Archive | June 2007

Are you a Computer Geek?

Looks like I am, according to this test…

My computer geek score is greater than 100% of all people in the world! How do you compare? Click here to find out!

ISS with shuttle Atlantis docked

How cool is this video… yep its the International Space Station docked with the Space Shuttle Atlantis taken with a 10″ telescope!

well done to the imager!

Astrosoc Annual Dinner

Astrosoc’s ‘Annual Dinner this year took place at the Edgbaston Golf Course. Mr Mike Frost was our guest speaker with a talk on how to lose weight, it was a wonderful nigh.. lots of fun! I have to say the Golf course was really nice to go to and I do wonder how many times I have been past there but never inside… it felt kinda special! biggrin.gif.. don’t they look like they are having fun…

My Weekly tracks..

I recently started to use for collated what I have recently listened to.. I never did get around to writing that script that would do it for winamp…

I will have to add this to the main pages..
or use the more interactive way… probably not..
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Mass of Eris determined

In 2005 the object now called Eris was considered to be possibly the 10th planet of our solar system. This caused chaos (hence the name) in astronomical circles… and finally an IAU decision came about which declassified Pluto as a planet and hence Eris was not known as a planet. They are both known as dwarf planets, along with Ceres (largest object in the asteroid belt). Anyway, recently astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and the W.M. Keck Observatory have precisely measured the mass of Eris. Eris is 1.27 times the mass of Pluto, formerly the largest member of the Kuiper Belt of icy objects beyond Neptune. In the images released by NASA Eris and its “moon” Dysnomia can be see:
Eris and its moon Dysnomia
Credit: NASA, ESA, and M. Brown (California Institute of Technology)
For more see: [HubbleSite NewsCenter]

Grad School Poster Competition

On Tuesday I gave a poster presentation at the University of Birmingham’s first graduate school poster competition. This is not a major event but I thought it would be the chance to try and explain some physics to non-scientists and thought it would be fun, it was….
uptojune14 003
The abstract for my poster was:

The field of exoplanets is one of the youngest in astronomy, the first exoplanet was discovered in 1992. Currently some 200 planets have been found orbiting nearby stars. All of these have been discovered via indirect measurements. A large number of these planets are quite unlike the planets in our own solar system. We shall describe their nature and the methods of detection. We also believe that exoplanets will be strong emitters of radio energy thus allowing a means for direction detection.

Oh and the full version can be found [here] (its a 4mb file).

New PPS site…

I finally have gotten around to put the new Poynting Physical Society website together.. and I was able to finally get around to trying out a few PHP ideas I had on it biggrin.gif… take a look at: []

Gulp… ATCA deadline…

Tomorrow is the deadline for the Australia Telescope Compact Array (a radio telescope) and I just submitted my proposal to do some brown dwarf observations to it… I’m happy biggrin.gif but also feeling a bit nervous… I’m not used to being a principle investigator on a large observational proposal… oh well its done now!

UK boffins: extraterrestrial life will be discovered soon

“Top British boffins are convinced that evidence of alien life will soon be discovered outside the solar system.” Well thats according to the register [here] and the article in the Telegraph and the Guardian. It’s quite interesting reading really but the reason I’m interested is the comment in the Telegraph made by my PhD supervisor ([telegraph article])… “Dr Ian Stevens of the University of Birmingham said that life got started early in the life of the Earth and “my guess is life is common out there”.” … not that I am trying to get favour in anyway but I think I would agree with his comments, now back to work… honest cool.gif

Ban the teaching of proprietary software in schools

Recently an e-petition was given to the government on the use of open source software in schools (see: [here]). I signed it. I thought it was an interesting question and I feel that people leave schools underprepaired for using anything apart from commerical software. Anyway, the goverment has responded to this… it is an interesting response (see [here]) and is postivie to using open source software as they point out they have an agency which looks into such matters. Though it has some nice comments I do wonder and doubt if within a decade we will see the use of open source software in schools… they say they want to prepare people for work, well thats fine but maybe giving them a wider education would work. It would be good if they just had other tools installed and maybe just some basic training in the open source tools. I can see a situation were both M$ Office and Open Office is installed and the students can choose which they prefer and it is marked accordingly – also Open Office is free and students whose parents can only afford a basic machine at home can easily get open office at no cost!