The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock


In the Dark

S’io credesse che mia risposta fosse
A persona che mai tornasse al mondo,
Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse.
Ma perciocche giammai di questo fondo
Non torno vivo alcun, s’i’odo il vero,
Senza tema d’infamia ti rispondo.

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question…
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners…

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Why was 2014 warm AND wet?


Protons for Breakfast Blog

Colour-coded Map of UK showing how each region of the UK exceeded the 1981-2010 average temperature. Crown Copyright Colour-coded Map of UK showing how each region of the UK exceeded the 1981-2010 average temperature. Crown Copyright

2014 was the warmest year in the UK ‘since records began’ – and most probably the warmest since at least 1659. You can read the Met Office Summary here

The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) also report that 2014 is likely to have been the warmest year in Europe and indeed over the entire Earth for at least 100 years.

This was briefly ‘news but somehow this astonishing statistic seems to have disappeared almost without trace.

In fact there are three astonishing things about the statistic

  • Firstly – we know it, and it is likely to be correct.
  • Secondly – the warmest year was ‘warmer all over’ but did not include the ‘hottest month’.
  • Thirdly- the warmest year was also overly wet – both in the UK and world wide.

This article is about why

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The Giant Steps of Buddy DeFranco


In the Dark

Christmas Eve saw the passing of another great Jazz artist, the clarinettist Buddy DeFranco , at the grand old age of 91. Not surprisingly, glowing tributes to him have appeared in all the mainstream media as well as in specialist jazz sources as he was an absolutely superb musician as well as a distinctive stylist. Alongside countless other measures of his greatness and popularity, he won no less than twenty Downbeat Magazine Awards and nine Metronome Magazine Awards as the number one jazz clarinettist in the world.

It’s an interesting facet of jazz history that the clarinet, a mainstay of jazz styles from the New Orleans roots through to the Swing Era, fell into disfavour in the post-war era with the advent of bebop when it was largely eclipsed by the saxophone. Very few musicians persisted with the clarinet into the era of modern jazz, but Buddy DeFranco was one…

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Solitude


In the Dark

Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone.
For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth,
But has trouble enough of its own.
Sing, and the hills will answer;
Sigh, it is lost on the air.
The echoes bound to a joyful sound,
But shrink from voicing care.

Rejoice, and men will seek you;
Grieve, and they turn and go.
They want full measure of all your pleasure,
But they do not need your woe.
Be glad, and your friends are many;
Be sad, and you lose them all.
There are none to decline your nectared wine,
But alone you must drink life’s gall.

Feast, and your halls are crowded;
Fast, and the world goes by.
Succeed and give, and it helps you live,
But no man can help you die.
There is room in the halls of pleasure
For a long and lordly train,

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The Cliffs of Comet Churyumov–Gerasimenko


In the Dark

I don’t often post pictures from the excellent Astronomy Picture of the Day but today’s is so beautiful I couldn’t resist.

cometcliffs_rosetta_960

Image Credit & Licence (CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO): ESA, Rosetta spacecraft, NAVCAM; Additional Processing: Stuart Atkinson

The explanation published with the picture goes:

These high cliffs occur on the surface of a comet. They were discovered to be part of the dark nucleus of Comet Churyumov–Gerasimenko (CG) by Rosetta, a robotic spacecraft launched by ESA which began orbiting the comet in early August. The ragged cliffs, as featured here, were imaged by Rosetta about two weeks ago. Although towering about one kilometer high, the low surface gravity of Comet CG would likely make a jump from the cliffs, by a human, survivable. At the foot of the cliffs is relatively smooth terrain dotted with boulders as large as 20 meters across. Data from Rosetta indicates…

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Solitons in a Swimming Pool


In the Dark

Here’s a fascinating physics video for your amusement and edification:

I think the video explains what is going on pretty well, but if you want more information (including some connections with other bits of physics) you can look at this paper (whence I’ve nicked the following pictures and description).

Basically what is happening is that the motion of the plate through the water in the pool creates a connected pair of Rankine Vortices, rotating in opposite directions. The kinetic energy and the angular momentum the vortices quickly decay so the structure turns into a pair of dimpled singular surfaces called Falaco Solitons. Although unstable, these structures can survive for several minutes if the water in the pool is otherwise still:

soliton_1

Severing the thin, string-like, structure that connects the two dimples will make them vanish extremely rapidly.

The spooky-looking black discs you can see apparently floating on the surface…

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Planck 2014: The Results That Weren’t….


In the Dark

A big conference started today in Ferrara, Italy, which my duties here at the University of Sussex unfortunately did not allow me to attend. The purpose of the meeting was to announce the latest science results and data products from the Planck mission. There was quite a lot of excitement in advance of today’s session as there was supposed to be a press conference at which some exciting results would be announced. Although I’m in Sussex rather than Italy, I have been doing my best to keep up with some of the goings-on via Twitter.

From what I have gathered, it has so far been a bit of an anti-climax. For a start, it was announced some time ago that the full data sets would not be released during this meeting after all, with the effect the conference would just give a preview of the final Planck results…

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