Week One

I’ve been in Louisiana for almost a week now, and I’m slowly getting over the jet-lag and the change in climate from Glasgow, though I have fallen asleep over my dinner at least twice this week, so maybe I’m not handling it all that well…

26 March 2017


The Inspiral

In which I travel from Glasgow, Scotland, to Scotlandville, Louisiana, in a lot of planes.

18 March 2017


Getting Ready to Go

Chances are at some point in the last year you’ve heard me mentioning that I was heading off to America at some point in my PhD. You might well have heard me complaining about filling out forms to get a visa, about the uncertainty about which part of the USA I was going to, or even about how worried I was that I wouldn’t be able to get about while I was there (through not having a driving license).

12 March 2017


Rounds 10 and 13 in Europe

Round 10 of the Pro 12 and Aviva Premiership competitions, and Round 13 of the Top 14 are now complete, and we’re running into a two week hiatus while we make the switch to the European Champions and Challenge Cup games for December. It seems like a good time to take stock of how each of the teams are performing compared to how the numbers would suggest they ought to be doing.

5 December 2016


Rugby Stats Update

The predictions from round 5 were rather successful, with a 100% success rate compared to the results of the games, although the winning margins were a little off.

4 October 2016


Pro12: Who will win Round 5?

I’ve been playing around with a large dataset which I scraped off Wikipedia recently: the details of the various fixtures from the Pro12, a European rugby league with teams from Ireland, Wales, Scotland, and Italy.

26 September 2016


Rugby Data (updated, again)

This is a little continuation of the work I did on the data from the Pro12, extended to show the last two seasons of the English Premiership. The graphs are now animated and update to show each team in each season and league.

13 September 2016


Hopping about Islands

It's been a while since I got around to posting on here, and part of the reason for that is that I've been on holiday; I took a trip which I started planning five years ago after I first visited Skye, and then never quite got around to doing, because it always seemed to complicated to actually do.

31 July 2016


The wave that stole Christmas

Just shy of six months ago I was at my parents’ house in rural Northern Ireland, nursing a very full stomach, and admiring a large pile of chocolates, and taking a break from Christmas festivities. In fact, it was slightly worse than that; I was starting to make plots for the Burst “companion paper”,now published in PRD!, so I really hadn’t given myself very much time to relax.

15 June 2016


Finding a way to Space

Today’s another big day in the world of gravitational waves. ESA are expected to announce the results of their LISA Pathfinder mission in just over an hour. I’m going to attempt to write this blog post in at least two parts: one part (now) before the announcement, and one part during.

7 June 2016


Going to America

I’ve not posted anything on here for a while. I’ve been working a lot. I seem to remember thinking that work would die down after we made the detection announcement last month, but I had something else to work on. That’s because I’m going to our collaboration’s biannual meeting. In Pasadena.

12 March 2016


Was Einstein Right?

It’s about time I started talking a bit about the science of this week’s announcement. One of the more exciting aspects of detecting gravitational waves was that they would confirm the last major prediction of the theory of General Relativity—Einstein’s revolutionising theory of how gravity works.

13 February 2016


Einstein Was Right!

It’s been almost a day now since the world found out about GW150914, the 0.2 seconds of tiny distortions in spacetime which have kept around a thousand scientists entertained for half a year, and which seems to be close to breaking the internet today. As the hype starts to settle down, I think it’s time to reflect a bit on what happened yesterday. You can tell that today’s not a day when many people in the department are getting very much work done.

12 February 2016


Riding the Wave

I don’t think I’ve ever written a blog post under an embargo before, but it’s a crisp, sunny Glasgow afternoon, and in 24 hours’ time I’ll be heading across to the main building of the university, for there is to be a press conference. But you probably already know that, since I’ll be publishing this post after it.

11 February 2016


PhD Interviews

I realised the other day that it’s been a whole year since I went through the rather stressful experience of PhD interviews (and the even more stressful experience of filling out the forms to apply for the positions). I’ve noticed a few other people around the internet have been recounting their experiences, and since mine are still quite fresh in my memory I thought I would too.

7 February 2016


Waiting on the Wave

I’m a couple of months into postgraduate research, and I’ve decided early on that I should probably write a blog about what I’m doing.

30 November 2015


Further experiments with rugby data and D3

This is a little continuation of the work I did on the data from the Pro12, extended to show the last two seasons of the English Premiership. The graphs are now animated and update to show each team in each season and league.

2 September 2015


Experiments with rugby data

I’ve taken a bit of time recently to write a simple parser in Python which can read in the Wikipedia format in which rugby match results are presented, which has allowed me to attempt to do some analysis on the data. There’s plenty of information there, but this is a nice, and visually appealing summary of the data. It shows the (aggregate home and away) scores of every team as won off every other team in the Pro 12 (the domestic professional league in Italy, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales) in the 2014/15 season. For example, a chord from Glasgow to Connacht is scaled to show the total number of points Glasgow won off Connacht at the Glasgow end, and vice versa at the Connacht end (if we’re being technical, it’s a representation of the directed graph of the league results… fun.)

29 August 2015


CAPS 2015 Manchester

I’m sitting on a train which has just left Manchester Oxford Road; I’m tired, shaking a little from an unhealthy dose of caffeine, and just a little bit sad, because CAPS 2015 is over. It’s been a great weekend filled with science, coffee, meeting lots of new people, and even more coffee.

28 June 2015


Mapping the Referendum

So, I stayed up all night, and made a map of the results of the Scottish Independence Referendum.

17 September 2014


New Website

So, if you’re reading this, you’ve probably discovered that I’ve made yet another change to my website. This one’s quite a big change, certainly in terms of how it’s implemented. In the past I’ve relied on large programs, such as MediaWiki and Wordpress to manage my website. Whilst those are great pieces of software, and good at what they do, they’ve always seemed like overkill for managing a personal website; after all, I doubt very many people ever need to search my blog (and even if they did they’d probably just use Google), so I’ve decided it’s time to move to something simpler.

22 June 2014


The Strange Case of the Doom in the Post

It’s not every day that you start to wonder if a Lovecraftian novella might be writing itself around you. Today I returned to my flat to find, as usual, a bundle of post lying just inside the door. Amongst the Tesco Clubcard Statements, and the usual advertising letter from Virgin Media was a small, rather intriguing brown envelope. It was a bit heavy for a letter, and, perhaps more oddly, was addressed to “Daniel Williams, …, Glasgow, Reino Unido”. Sure enough, the post mark declared its origin as being “Espana”. Well, by this stage I was very intrigued, and so I opened it, braving the threat of possible anthrax infection.

14 March 2014