Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Clashing events

I received an email from the Institute of Physics Nuclear Industry Group about an interesting talk they are organising on 20th November at 7pm.  It's on the topic of the closure of the last nuclear civil research reactor in the UK; Imperial College's CONSORT reactor, in Ascot, Surrey.

It may come as a surprise that Universities used to have their own nuclear reactors for research.  These are much smaller reactors than commercial power station reactors, and were used for all sorts of research into nuclear reactors themselves and related materials and engineering problems, along with applications of the neutrons to research into solid state physics, neutron physics itself, and applications of radiochemistry.  What's more well-known is that the first nuclear reactor was a University–based research reactor, known as Chicago Pile-1, built under a sports field on the University of Chicago campus.

I expect the organisers of the talk will not mind me giving them some free advertising to readers of a specialist nuclear physics blog, and details can be found on the IoP Nuclear Industry Group's published newsletter, for those interested.  

I'd go to the talk, except for the fact that my colleagues Jim Al–Khalili and Johnjoe McFadden have invited me to the launch party for their new book "Life on the Edge" – a scholarly tome about microfauna inhabiting U2's guitarist a popular exposition of the role of quantum mechanics in biology.  The launch party clashes with the nuclear physics talk, alas, and I've already said yes to the party.  Such is life.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Crossword prize!

On most weekends I attempt to buy the newspaper (The Independent, or Independent on Sunday) and then attempt to read some of it, and do the prize crossword.  More often than not, I succeed in some measure in doing these things, though I often don't end up buying the paper until late on in the day, if at all.  This weekend, I've managed to buy the newspaper both days, and read a good amount of them.  I've done the crossword from yesterday, but not started today's yet.  Still, I was alerted via Twitter this morning that I won the crossword prize for last week's Sunday prize crossword.  How exciting!  I shall gratefully receive the dictionaries that come as the prize, though perhaps like most people that solve crosswords, I do happen already to own a reasonably good set of crosswords.  Perhaps they ought to start offering as prizes the sort of things crossword solvers would be rather unlikely to own.  I'm not sure what that would be, exactly.  Any ideas?