Horowitz plays Schubert — In the Dark

This was doing the rounds on Facebook earlier this summer and I meant to post it on here, but forgot. Anyway, better late than never. This is the great Vladimir Horowitz playing the Impromptu No. 3 in G flat major D899 by Franz Schubert. It’s a stunning performance to watch as well as listen to, despite […]

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Koto Song

I especially like this version with a clarinet (posted by MrBicycleRepairman on youtube). Unfortunately, don’t know when it was recorded and who was playing the clarinet. So, if you know please share through the commenting box. There you go, Dave Brubeck, Koto Song.

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The Distribution of Cauchy

Back into the swing of teaching after a short break, I have been doing some lectures this week about complex analysis to theoretical physics students. The name of a brilliant French mathematician called Augustin Louis Cauchy (1789-1857) crops up very regularly in this branch of mathematics, e.g. in the Cauchy integral formula and the Cauchy-Riemann […]


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The BICEP2 Bubble Bursts…

I voted for this scenario on Peter’s poll 😉

In the Dark

I think it’s time to break the worst-kept secret in cosmology, concerning the claimed detection of primordial gravitational waves by the BICEP2 collaboration that caused so much excitement last year; see this blog, passim. If you recall, the biggest uncertainty in this result derived from the fact that it was made at a single frequency, 150 GHz, so it was impossible to determine the spectrum of the signal. Since dust in our own galaxy emits polarized light in the far-infrared there was no direct evidence to refute the possibility that this is what BICEP2 had detected. The indirect arguments presented by the BICEP2 team (that there should be very little dust emission in the region of the sky they studied) were challenged, but the need for further measurements was clear.

Over the rest of last year, the BICEP2 team collaborated with the consortium working on the Planck satellite, which…

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The Map is not the Territory

In the Dark

I came across this charming historical map while following one of my favourite Twitter feeds “@Libroantiguo” which publishes fascinating material about books of all kinds, especially old ones. It shows the location of London coffee houses and is itself constructed in the shape of a coffee pot:

Although this one is obviously just a bit of fun, maps like this are quite fascinating, not only as practical guides to navigating a transport system but also because they often stand up very well as works of art. It’s also interesting how they evolve with time  because of changes to the network and also changing ideas about stylistic matters.

A familiar example is the London Underground or Tube map. There is a fascinating website depicting the evolutionary history of this famous piece of graphic design. Early versions simply portrayed the railway lines inset into a normal geographical map which made them…

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Nowhere man

“eminent physicist, polyglot classicist, prize-winning botanist, hard-biting satirist, talented pianist, good dentist too” (c)

“I’d spent five hours that morning trying to write a song that was meaningful and good, and I finally gave up and lay down. Then ‘Nowhere Man’ came, words and music, the whole damn thing as I lay down” (J. Lennon to Playboy, September 1980)

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Andromeda in High Resolution

In the Dark

This afternoon I gave three hours of lectures on the trot, so I’m now feeling more than a little knackered. Before I head home for an early night, though, I thought I’d share this amazing video produced by the Panchromatic Hubble Andromeda Survey (or PHAT, for short), which is a Hubble Space Telescope (HST) Multi-cycle program to map roughly a third of the star-forming disk of the Andromeda Nebula (M31), using 6 filters covering from the ultraviolet through the near infrared. With HST’s resolution and sensitivity, the disk of M31 is resolved into more than 100 million stars. The combination of scale and detail is simply jaw-dropping. Hat’s off to the PHAT team!

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