Whilst in Cornwall, I broke my collarbone in two places. I would like to be able to say that I was doing something heroic but alas I was simply playing rounders before the Thursday show at the Minack Theatre. According to the doctors I’ll be recovering for six weeks, and I had horrid visions of a month and a half of one-fingered, left-hand typing. In fact, I’m typing almost normally again now, although my shoulder is very sore. Nikki is proving more invaluable than ever, by keeping up with my correspondence.
My big regret is that I have had to postpone my lecture tour of Ireland, organized by Astronomy Ireland. I apologise to everyone who was planning to attend the lectures, and to TV3 who had booked me to appear on the television to talk about the book. I hope to reschedule when I have recovered.
The good news is that I do not foresee any reason to postpone any of my September lectures – although I might be delivering them in a sling and signing books might be a bit tricky!
I’ll try to keep the blog updated, mostly with cut and pasted material because I imagine my output is going to be quite low over the next month. I do have exciting commissions from the V&A magazine and The Scotsman to look forward to but I don’t want to push my luck taking on a lot of deadlines.
Here are a few things I’ve noticed since being back:
Dark matter mystery deepens
NASA’s Chandra X-ray telescope team issued an intriguing press release on 16 August. In the second paragraph it states:
"These results challenge our understanding of the way clusters merge," said Dr. Andisheh Mahdavi of the University of Victoria, British Columbia. "Or, they possibly make us even reexamine the nature of dark matter itself."
Read the press release here.
Read New Scientist’s story about the discovery here.
Europe’s Weather Satellites
On Thursday 6 September 2007 there is to be a free evening lecture about Europe's Weather Satellites in London. The lecture will be given by Dr Lars Prahm, Director General, EUMETSAT. The lecture will be held at 4 Hamilton Place, London, and starts at 18:00 with refreshments available from 17:30.
About two thirds of the data used by the UK Met Office in its weather forecasting comes from satellites - the global coverage of satellite data underpins the gradual improvements in forecasting achieved over the past 30 years. Initially dependent on American satellites, Europe has for more than 20 years operated geostationary satellites covering the Eastern Atlantic and Western Indian Ocean regions - the Meteosat series (since 2002 in its enhanced second generation form). In October 2006, this fleet was augmented with Europe's first low orbiting weather satellite, the EUMETSAT Polar System (EPS), which is now in operation.
The Sun Kings recommended by the New York Society Library
The New York Society Library, the oldest in the city, was founded in 1754 by the New York Society, a civic-minded group formed in the belief that the availability of books would help the city to prosper. It now contains nearly three hundred thousand volumes.
The Book Committee meets monthly to discuss new books, periodicals, and electronic resources. After each meeting, a list of 35-50 recommended titles is displayed in the lobby on a shelf labelled "Recommended by our Books Committee." I’m thrilled to say that The Sun Kings is one of those books this month.
Visit the library by clicking here.
Worlds in Parallel in BBC Focus
I have a five-page feature in the September issue of BBC Focus about the physics behind that science fiction favourite: parallel worlds. Until I wrote this feature, I had no idea how much of it is now based in scientific reality. It was an eye-opener for me, and I hope for you too. BBC Focus is available from all good newsagents.
Visit them on line here.
The Sun Kings: “the most extraordinary book on the history of science I have recently had the pleasure to read”
As I left for Cornwall, The Sun Kings’ was reviewed in the 3 August 2007 issue of the Times Higher Education Supplement. Science writer Simon Mitton echoed his review on Amazon.co.uk and wrote “In The Sun Kings, the accomplished science writer Stuart Clark, who holds a doctorate in astronomy, gives a vivid account of the foundation of solar astrophysics and of the Victorian scientists who unlocked the secrets of the Sun's influence on Earth. This is the most extraordinary book on the history of science I have recently had the pleasure to read. Here is popular science at its best: accurate, meticulously researched, not technical in any way (no equations) and full of adventures.”
If you are a subscriber to the THES, you can read the full review here.