Showing posts from July, 2012

Speed Meet a Scientist/Hero/Loser?

I've been at a meeting Galactic Archaeology for the week, and so have been busy at the Sydney Masonic Centre (note, however, being at a conference in your home city is not good, as you are only a few miles from "work"). Anyway, grumpy post. Major grump. In the past, I've taken part in an event during National Science Week called "Speed Meet a Geek". I think science week is a great idea, where scientists (who love to rabbit about their work) get an audience who really seems to enjoying it. I've loved doing it, chatting with children about cosmology, telescopes, being an astronomer, while on the table next to me was explaining the intricacies of quantum mechanics and the future of computers. It is great stuff. Except the name. I don't like "Speed meet a geek". I know I have written about this before, but it has come to the fore as again, last week, I received an invite to take part in an event at Science Week. This was marketed

"When you have eliminated the (im)possible...

... whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth" - A slight paraphrasing of Sherlock Holmes, but very apt for science. I've been back in Sydney for almost a week, and so have post-holiday blues, so time for a rant. The subject of today's post, the  Pioneer anomaly. First, a little background. The Pioneer probes where launched in the 1970s to undertake grand tours of the Solar System. They have been trundling for almost as long as I have been on the planet, and are now well beyond the orbit of Pluto.  Out there, gas is extremely tenuous, and we would expect the Pioneers to be simply test particles, whose paths are completely due to the influence of gravity, mainly the Sun, but also the planets. Now, we can predict the locations of the planets extremely accurately, so you'd think with the mathematics of gravity in hand, we should be able to do the same with the Pioneers, and we can. But there is a problem. The Pioneer probes are not behaving exactl

Was I ever really away?

I'm back in Sydney after a holiday out in the Pacific. It was a good week, with warm weather providing a nice escape from the chill in Sydney (it does get cold here, and the notion of insulation appears to be beyond Australian house builders). I won't harp on about the holiday, but here's a picture of me snapped by my wife. It should not take a detective to work out where I went, (and sorry to Bryan for sporting a CAASTRO shirt while not actually a member). But also note that I am on my phone, and I am dealing with work issues (both research and admin), while enjoying a tusker. I wrote a little about this a while ago when I attended the Early Career Research meeting, and the notion of work-life balance. For me, I don't separate the two. I don't have work over here and life over there, and battle to keep them separate. I just have one large amorphous blob of life, and all aspects are intermingled. This reflects the comments by Kate Brooks on the topic. Wha