Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Report from Manchester

It's part-way through day 2 of the Manchester IoP joint conference between the Nuclear, Particle and Astroparticle Groups of the Institute of Physics. 

The days have started with plenary sessions across all the groups' interests, followed by group-wide plenary sessions, then parallel sessions within the groups.  I've been to talks on the status of the Higgs experiments at the LHC,  studies of double beta decay and the search for neutrinos double beta decay, studies of the isospin nature of the nuclear interaction, reactions for nuclear astrophysics that you can recreate in the lab, gravitational wave searches, laser spectroscopy for measuring the radii of nuclei via hyperfine atomic transitions, shapes of various isotopes of interest (octupole states, oblate N=Z nuclei), proton-rich nuclei, neutrino-nucleus interactions, electric dipole moments, beyond standard model searches, and neutron-rich nuclear studies at the RIBF facility in Japan.  It's been an interesting mixture of things that are familiar, and some thing that are less so.  

In combining the nuclear and particle groups, there have been a few examples of places where the interplay between them are vital in providing a complete understanding;  for example Sean Freeman's talk on double beta decay is concerned with deducing Standard Model quantities, but involves having to understand the nuclear properties very well.  Teppei Katori's talk on neutrino-nucleus interactions this morning is another case.  He pointed out the obvious reason why people study Standard Model physics, rather than nuclear physics - on the slide, pictured, in somewhat poor quality.  The slide says "The Standard Model (easy).  Nuclear Physics (hard)"

The first picture shows a scene typical for Manchester, with light being reflected from the layer of water on the ground. 

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Spring back, fall forward

The clocks are changing in the UK tonight.  There's a mnemonic, supposedly helpful, about the direction in which to change the clocks.  It goes "spring forward, fall back."  I expect we are sufficiently familiar enough nowadays with the term fall for autumn, but I've always found it just as plausible to think of the phrase "spring back, fall forward" as being just as natural.

Some very scientific research (# of Google hits) tells me:

Spring Forward: About 71,200,000 results
Spring Back: About 296,000,000 results

Fall Forward: About 718,000,000 results
Fall Back: About 295,000,000 results

I can work out which way we do it with a little thought, and knowledge behind the rationale on which it's done, but my mnemonic way of doing it is to remember that there is a payoff for the bad transition and a slight downer on the good transition:  As it goes to winter, at least we get another hour of sleep.  As we go to summer, we lose an hour of sleep.  So, tonight, we lose an hour.  In my case, I guess it means my daughter will get me up at 7, rather than 6.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Ready for IoP conference 2015

It's approaching the Easter break, so it's time for the annual Institute of Physics Nuclear Physics conference.  Last year I chaired the conference, so this year's will be a more relaxed affair for me.  It's in Manchester, and it's being co–hosted with the particle physics conference, so there'll be an opportunity to go to some sessions on particle physics should the mood take me.  

Today, the seven Surrey students who are talking at the conference gave practice talks and we had a lively session watching and listening to them, then asking questions and giving them feedback.  I'm speaking too, on Tuesday, so if you're there, please come along to my session!  Full details on the conference website.

It'll be nice to have a few days in Manchester.  I illustrate this post with a shot of Canal Street – one of Manchester's famous spots for a good time in the evening.  I might not make it there, travelling with my one-year-old daughter, but she'd probably rather like it.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Unsquare Loser

18 down in today's Independent Crossword is "Jazz pianist's difficulty interrupting rock guitarist (7)"

If you need a little musical inspiration for the clue, these two fine songs might provide it:

Thursday, 5 March 2015

... and then there were three

The University of York has announced the appointment of Prof. Jacek Dobaczewski as the head of their newly-created theoretical nuclear physics group.  

This brings the number of nuclear theory groups in the UK to three (though see footnote on a previous post).  Soon there will be an advert for a lectureship at York, too, and the historical anomaly of nuclear theory being conspicuously undermanned will start to reverse.  

From my point of view, it's great to have Jacek here.  His research area, in density functional theory, has a large overlap with my own, and for the first time since I've been an academic in the UK, my PhD students will now have the possibility of moving to another UK group for a post-doctoral position after completing their PhD.