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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)