Friday, September 29, 2006

back from London

Just a quick early(ish) morning post to say Crain (Durham) and I are back from the Royal Society Communication Day.

We had fantastic time and felt the RS course itself was very well run and well worth the effort. More updates and piccys should appear in due course and over the weekend, both here and at the iccmofos.

However, it's right back into it this morning and there are more positive comments being received about the 2SLAQ clustering paper. Among several other co-authors who I'm chuffed to have on my first paper, Eisenstein (Arizona) is on-board which is a huge bonus, especially since this is the most cited astrophysics paper over the last year of so.

Monday, September 25, 2006


Afternoon all,

Just a wee post to let you know that Thursday saw a major breakthrough with the AAOmega clustering. A simple mistake in my coding (quelle surprise) was screwing everything up. I think I now have the proof the LRG clustering at z~0.7 is the same in strength as at more local z<0.3 redshifts (a la SDSS).

Friday saw the dentist, who has always been v. interest in my academic persuits, giving me teeth a clear bill of health. Though, it is very tricky to describe galaxy clustering in detail while "opening wide " and in the midst of a check-up.

Today, progress is finally being made on the LRG-Radio x-correlation though I have no major claims as yet.

However, thoughts this week are definitely turning to the small matter of 21.0824 km to be run this Sunday...

Thursday, September 21, 2006


Bung taking is rife in astronomy - from PhD places to first year vivas all the way to the top. However, this reporter never even began to imagine the scale of the underhand deals that take place and at all levels of the game.

"Well, I've never been offered one, but how do you think I got to my position," laughed one senior astronomer, who for legal reasons can only be named as Prof. S.

"Oh sure," said one current PhD student, called Mr. RB in our investigations, "[Bill] Frith can get you a long way in this game." Mr. RB continued, "Also, I knew that since the person doing my interview was from Bolton, we could come to some sort of agreement." As a result, Mr. RB is now sailing into his second year as a postgrad.

One very well respected post-doc, who wished to remain anonymous, said the reason for the perceived corruption is that "it's because the stakes are so low".

Yet, since none of these allegations can be conclusively proven at the moment, the investigations have been put on temporary hold. However, it woud be fair to expect more news and revelations in the coming days, weeks and months.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


After last nights Panorama programme, I'm going undercover to see how rife bung-taking is in astronomy. I have a feeling the results could be shocking. The investigation will start at the lowest rungs in the game (a.k.a. Shanks' PhD students) and aim to work it's way up from there....

In other news, I think I'm only a step away from working out an integral constraint on the 2SLAQ LRGs.

Still have the radio X-cor to do for Croom and Sadler (Sydney). D'oh.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

I wonder if astronomy TACs take bungs??

Well, I don't know if I'm trying to be an idiot but while there are fifty-one other things I should be doing, I'm sitting up, going late into the night writing Gemini and ESO VLT proposals. While I was told today that I need model predictions, a better science driver and essetially a 50m telescope with MCAO, in the Spirit of Shanks (an extremely rare single malt, aged >25 years),
I'm gonna blow the hatches and go ahead anyway.

Other activites today included replying to Don Schneider's (PennState) generally minor comments on paper. Other big name on board!!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Astronomy in Timbuktu

(from Friday, Sept 15th 2006)

After a day of not achieving masses, had a small break-through late on. For some (still very unknown reason) the DRs in the COSMOS field are "dodgey". However, doing a Peebles-Hauser (1974) DD/RR calculation will bypass this current problem and the resulting xi(s) estimate is perhaps believable. Yay!

Had a v. interesting historical astronomy talk by Thebe Medupe (Cape Town) all about African astronomy and how dominant it what European's call the Middle Ages (~11th = ~ 15th Centuries). Timbuktu (in Mali) was essentially a large oasis of scholars studying astronomy, mathematics and law.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Think I've fixed my AAOmega w(theta) Full/COSMOS/d05 field discrepancy. All 3 w(theta) estimates now agree (obviously within the errors!) and as usual in astronomy, solving one puzzle opens the door to several others. So I ask myself, if the angular and radial masks of said fields are sound, why do I continue to get a very flat xi(s) estimation??

Been re-reading Masjedi et al. again. I really like this paper and the conclusions about the v. low LRG-LRG merger rate still has me thinking... (AAT deadline Friday 1pm...)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The d05 and COSMOS field

After doing a pretty basic but robust modelling of the N(z) of the data in the d05 and COSMOS field, I think I might have my first reasonable approximation of a xi(s) for the riz AAOmega data. There still seems to be (serious) issues regarding the COSMOS field (and subsequently the whole sample) but the d05 data is looking v. promising.

Among the telescope deadlines, I'm gonna to try and do a little bit of work for Croom and Sadler (both Sydney) on the radio clustering of the 2SLAQ LRGs this week.

Friday, September 08, 2006

k+a galaxies

Well, the 2SLAQ Survey is really firing on all cylinders now. Roseboom et al. appeared on the pre-prints this a.m. The way I read it, the bottom line is that "simple" star-formation activity (which manifests itself in the appearance of k+a and em+a LRG spectra) is not sufficient to explain the bulk of mass growth in early types from z~1. Thus "dry" mergers (i.e. mergers which have very little gas associated with them e.g. Bell et al. 2005) probably play a major role in this early type mass build-up.

As far as my stuff goes, the current wall I'm trying to walk around is that of creating a decent mask for our March (!!) AAOmega data. I thinking of giving up on the "bullseye" idea and going back to simple squares.

Have a good weekend.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Just been to a v. good careers talk from Alexander (Durham) and was thinking I'd probably
want a CV like this at some point in my life.


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

BTTF numbers

I'm sure some other physics student has done this simple calc but:

Rest Mass of a De Lorean DMC-12: 1230 kg (equivalent to 1.107 x 10^20 Joules).

Kinetic Energy of said De Lorean travelling at 39.33952 ms = 934,415 J

Therefore, total energy of the moving car = ~1.107x 10^20 Joules.

Energy of lightning bolt that struck the clock tower = 1.21 Gigawatts.

At this point I get confused. How does a flux capacitor work??

Monday, September 04, 2006

It's been a while....

Good morning everyone!!

So, after my month long hiatus (I was on my sell-out "Supenova" tour, but more about that later), the old blog might get going again.

Just a couple of wee bits to update you on. The z-space paper has gone collaboration wide this
afternoon. Publish and be damned some might say.
The Sloan had a trio of "biggees" last week, here, here and here.

What else? Well the "bias" chat in these papers has led to some possible ideas for PATT applications and the ol' KDC idea is still a possibility (however distant and infeasable it might be).

On a work related but non-cosmo note, rain (Durham) and I have booked our accomo for our RS Media Day jaunt. Just have to polish up that 4 minute blockbuster of a speech now!