15 June 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. As a result of all of this I was aware of some chatter over email about another interesting looking trigger, and before long it became clear that this was something of a Christmas present for us gravitational waves people: it was another binary black hole. A second one, before we’d even had a chance to announce the first. As it became clear that this was a real event it started being tagged the “Christmas Day Event” (it was observed on 25 December local time at the observatories), until somebody burst the bubble, and reminded everyone that we name events based on their time in UT, which put it around 3.30 am on 26 December. Boxing Day. As a result the LSC is today presenting the Boxing Day Event (without any hint of a sale). GW151226, as it’s known to people who love their names with long strings of digits (and people who don’t revel in the joys of Boxing Day) is a very different beast to the one which was unveiled back in February.


7 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.


12 March 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.


13 February 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.


12 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.


11 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.


7 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.


30 November 2015

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.


2 September 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.


29 August 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.)


28 June 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.


17 September 2014

Mapping the Referendum

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


22 June 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.


14 March 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.