I started this post with the idea of summarising all of the new science which has resulted from observations made up to the end of the third observing run of the advanced LIGO and Virgo detectors. It turns out there’s rather a lot, so this looks like it’ll be the first of several! I’ve tried to include links to as many papers as possible.
I recently ran the Great Scottish Run half marathon in Glasgow, and finished in what I figured was a pretty decent time. But of course, this just leads on to another question: what is a “good” time in the half marathon? Of course, one of the beauties of a sport like running which is so individual is that a good time is really what you make it, and nowhere is that more true than a mass participation event like GSR. But again, before I dive into the statistics, a good time in the half marathon is clearly one that you’re happy with, and comparing yourself to others probably shouldn’t be why you’re running.
Every so often I get the notion that I ought to be taking a look at the performance of various rugby teams in various tournaments, and then trying to perform some sort of statistical analysis on it. Well, it looks like this might spin out into a series of blog posts in the run up to the 2023 Mens’ Rugby Union World Cup.
God is in the mountains, I mused to myself as I drove North on the A82, past Loch Lomond, in the early afternoon at the start of June 2023. It is very easy to believe that statement as you take in the spectacular beauty of this part of the world. The mountains rise as great green masses beside the brilliantly blue loch. If there were hills in Eden then Ben Lomond and Ben Vorlich were clearly transposed from there to Scotland. The only evidence that this isn’t some sort of Earthly paradise is the A82 itself. The thought came somewhat unbidden, but I think I can trace its source. As I headed North I found Psalm 121 bouncing around in the recesses of my consciousness: “I lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence commeth my help”. I know why this is on my mind, and it connects various strands of this story.
I’m going to try and be a bit better about regular updates about life, my work, and the Universe. Who knows how it’ll go, but here goes nothing. I’m considering publishing the research part as a standalone newsletter, since we’re rapidly approaching the next gravitational wave observing run, and I regret not keeping a diary during previous ones (though certainly during our O3 run I was rather pre-occupied with finishing my PhD work, writing my thesis, and then passing my viva!). I’m not exactly sure what this will turn into, but let’s see.
If you’re looking to try out asimov on your own laptop or workstation you’ll quickly run into a bit of a limitation: asimov, and the codes it works with, are designed to run on a large computing cluster. However, we can get around this by installing a lightweight version of the software used on clusters on your own machine before we try to run asimov.
These are my solutions to Day 2 of the advent of code 2022. Today’s puzzle involved working out the score from a game of rock-paper-scissors by parsing a large text document, and then developed into a slightly more complicated variation in the second part. I solved the problem today using C.
These are my solutions to Day 1 of the advent of code 2022. Today’s puzzle involved taking a list which was in a very specific format, which contained listings of how many calories a group of elves were carrying in snacks, and determining how many calories each elf was carrying in total.
East of Loch Treig
- Garbh-bheinn (857 m)
- Chno Dearg (1046 m) Munro
- Stob Coire Sgriodain (979 m) Munro
- Meall Garbh (old GR) (975 m)
- Meall Garbh (976 m) Munro top
- Stob Coire Sgriodain South Top (958 m) Munro top
- Beinn na Lap (935 m) Munro
Tinto Hill Race 2022
- Tinto (711 m) Graham Donald
My hopes of completing the Cairngorms Munros were fading fast as the fine weather of the summer starts to collapse into the rain, wind, and cold temperatures of the autumn. I’d made vague plans to head up North towards Dalwhinnie on Friday, taking the day off to try and climb the four hills West of Drumochter, but the weather looked pretty abysmal. The forecast for Saturday was a lot better, but plans would be scuppered by rail strikes. And so it was that I’d given up hope of big hills for this weekend, only for a serendipitous suggestion to pop up on a Westies WhatsApp post: does anyone want to run the Drumochter hills on Saturday?
- Geal-charn (917 m) Munro
- A' Mharconaich (973 m) Munro
- Bruach nan Iomairean (969 m)
- Beinn Udlamain (1010 m) Munro
- Sgairneach Mhor (991 m) Munro
- The Sow of Atholl [Meall an Dobharchain] (798 m) Corbett
It had been three years since my last Half Marathon, and in all honesty I wasn’t feeling terribly prepared for a grand return to long distances. I suspect I could count on two hands the number of runs over 14km I’ve done since the start of the pandemic. However, undeterred by this realisation I had set myself the slightly ambitious goal of cutting ten minutes off my previous personal best, and running the distance in 90 minutes.
It’s comfortably into the part of the year where it’s easy to declare that summer is over while not really being able to make a strong case that autumn has arrived. This also means that the long, light evenings of the summer are behind us, and the chance of poor weather is ever increasing. Overall, any Munro trip could therefore be the last until next spring. So it was that I had put much effort into planning out which hills I’ll try and climb in October, only to end up having the last weekend of September clear itself.
- Carn a' Chlamain (963 m) Munro
I found myself in Cardiff for a LIGO meeting, but with a weekend between parts of the meeting. So the only logical thing to do was to leave the confines of Cardiff on Saturday morning and head straight for the hills. Things started with a little confusion on my part over bus times, but I sis eventually work things out and got a bus to Merthyr, and then changed onto another which would take me to the Storey Arms, at the bottom of the most popular ascent route for Pen y Fan.
- Pen y Fan (886 m) Council Top
- Cribyn (795 m)
- Fan y Big (716 m)
- Waun Rydd (769 m)
I had spent the last couple of weeks trying to organise a trip up to Glen Feshie, which remain the least accessible Cairngorms Munros which I’ve still to climb, and this was my one weekend where I’d be in Scotland in September (or so I thought at the time). It was not to be, however, a mix of a poor forecast (gale force winds) and logistics made it impractical. Instead I resolved to return to them in October, and to head somewhere more local instead.
- Scad Hill
- Ben Shee (516 m)
- King's Seat Hill (648 m) Donald
- Tarmangie Hill (645 m) Donald
- Whitewisp Hill (643 m) Donald top
- Innerdownie (610 m) Donald
It was clear that neither the weather forecast nor the morale favoured another trip onto the Glen Shiel ridge to visit the famous Forcan Ridge after the previous day’s escapeade. After a very leisurely breakfast we parted ways, though not before discovering that “Glen Shiel Chocolates”, which inhabits the old Shiel Bridge petrol station, was only open two days a week. After some indecision myself and Declan decided to try running up Beinn Sgritheall; given we were at the end of the long road to it across the Glenelg peninsula.
- Beinn Sgritheall (974 m) Munro
- Beinn Sgritheall East Top (906 m)
It was 2018 that I’d last ventured to hills above the Great Glen, to the hills above Glen Shiel, when myself and Magnus walked the Brothers and Sisters Ridge on the north side of the glen, on a blisteringly hot day on our way South after the Benbecula Half Marathon that year. I’d planned to climb the hills on the South the following year with Andrew, but we scrubbed that plan thanks to heavy rain, which ended up making our already logistically complicated plans to do it with a single car unravel. So it was in June 2012, after two years of pandemic, that plans came together for me, Magnus, and Declan to take-on these hills over the Platinum Jubilee weekend. Only for me to contract COVID-19 and spend the entire long-weekend in bed. Eventually a new date was set, 20 August, and Andrew and Shona would join.
- Maol Chinn-dearg East Top (913 m)
- Aonach air Chrith (1019 m) Munro
- Sgurr an Doire Leathain (1010 m) Munro
- Sgurr an Lochain (1004 m) Munro
- Druim Shionnach (985 m) Munro
- Maol Chinn-dearg (980 m) Munro
- Creag a' Mhaim (946 m) Munro
- Druim Shionnach West Top (935 m) Munro top
- Creag nan Damh (917 m) Munro
I’d been putting-off one single hillwalk for some time, and none of the other Munros south of the Great Glen have quite the reputation of the Aonach Eagach, reputedly the narrowest and trickiest ridge on the British mainland. However, the opportunity to tackle it came up on a Thursday afternoon in a WhatsApp chat with other IGR folk, and so I found myself being picked-up at 6:30 in the morning by Ross, then meeting Thejas before driving north to park in the three sisters carpark in Glencoe. The forecast was for the weather to be very hot as the day went on, and we’d hoped to be able to complete most of the ascent as early as possible in the day.
- Am Bodach (941 m) Munro top
- Aonach Eagach - Sgorr nam Fiannaidh (967 m) Munro
- Aonach Eagach - Meall Dearg (952 m) Munro
- Stob Coire Leith (939 m) Munro top
A couple of months ago a student who I’ve been working with for the last year or so put out a new first author paper, which was an exciting moment. This is the first time I’ve had a student publish, so I’m enjoying a little buzz of excitement from that, but Weichangfeng should enjoy all the glory of getting the project finished.
It was an early start and a rather dreary day when the time came for my first triathlon. Doing one of these had been on the cards for a while; I’d agreed to do one sometime before COVID struck, but without a great deal of confidence. At the time I’d regarded swimming two lengths of the university pool without stopping for breath and to recover to be a good day, so the notion of heading out into a cold loch to swim 750m was not immediately inviting. I did, however, resolve to correct that deficiency, and by last winter I could get up to four lengths without being completely exhausted, and I was actually swimming with my head underwater most of the time without panicking.
The final big walk of my second trip to the Cairngorms for 2022 was to be one which would take me deepest into the plateau, to the arrow-head shape of Beinn Mheadhoin. Walk Highlands makes it seem remote by not combining it with any of the other hills around it, but this was to be a day of tops and summits for me. I started out on the bus from just outside the hostel which took me up to the ski centre car park. There was a lot of construction going on around the funicular, which is in the process of being reinforced, and it took a couple of minutes of wandering about to actually find the way onto my path. In a minor novelty for the last few weeks I was actually able to see my breath as I left the centre and climbed up Windy Ridge.
- Cairn Gorm (1244 m) Munro
- Stacan Dubha (1014 m) Munro top
- Beinn Mheadhoin SW Top [Beinn Mheadhoin South Top] (1163 m)
- Beinn Mheadhoin (1182 m) Munro
- Stob Coire Etchachan (1082 m) Munro top
- Stob Coire an t-Sneachda (1176 m) Munro top
- Fiacaill a' Choire Chais (1141 m)
After a reasonable amount of indecision over whether to head for Beinn Mheadhoin today I finally came to the conclusion that it was high time I had a rest day. The forecast for Thursday was arguably better than it was for today anyway. Rest days are for the Corbetts, apparently, ans so I set out after a slow morning towards Meall a’ Bhuacaille; the climb conveniently sits right behind the hostel. Almost all the way there is a well-engineered path, and the ascent to the ridge was quite fast, and from there it was only a short additional climb to get the summit (810m) of my third Corbett.
- Meall a' Bhuachaille (810 m) Corbett
- Creagan Gorm (732 m)
- Creag a' Chaillich (711 m)
- Craiggowrie (687 m)