Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Dark Sector Revisited

Over at I have started a revised and expanded version of my dark sector series of posts first seen here.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Galaxies, Lenses, Globulars, What More Do You Want?

Welcome to my first post for threesigmaresult! I've chosen to redo a post that previously appeared on my other blog, theobservershunch, I've done this because it was one of my favourites, partly because it has a very pretty pictures but mostly because it describes some research done by some of my colleagues. Enjoy.

Click for VERY Big.

The picture above which was released by the Hubble Heritage Project shows a cluster of galaxies called Abell S0740, the data used to make the picture was collected by a team of astronomers including two of my collaborators/friends at Durham, John Lucey and Russell Smith. There are two versions of the image, one without annotations and one showing zoomed regions of interest. See them both here.

Monday, June 18, 2007

New Blog - ThreeSigmaResult

Myself and CMB have decided to set-up a new blog, this one will be a bit more focussed dealing only with science, so no politics or random distractions. The blog can be found at The first real post will appear some time tomorrow.

My intention is that any science posts by me will get mirrored here, but if you want to see the full effect of CMB in full flow you'll have to head over to the new blog. Apart from this announcements things should continue as before over here.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Blind Cat Challenge

Wow, I've been busy recently (and ill), work has been hectic what with more telescope time coming our way, conference talks, travel arrangements and writing a paper or two. Now I'm back and getting into the swing of things here is a link to a great time sink that CMB is running over at his blog (and here). The basic idea is that you have to draw a cat in MS paint or the equivalent (using a mouse), but do it with your eyes closed. Its actually pretty damn hard, my effort is below, CMB has now collected over 300 of these efforts and has set up a gallery here, you can submit your own efforts here. The quality is variable to say the least. Enjoy.

What the hell did we do during work hours before the Internet? Seriously, I don't know I'm too young to remember, someone tell me.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Fishing Cats

Not long ago I was talking with some of the members of the group about fishing cats, a type of cat found in Asia that hunts fish, it is a skillful swimmer and excellent fish catcher, partly due to the fact that its paws are webbed. I'm making this post mostly because several people claimed that this weird but wonderful creature didn't really exist and was some sort of hoax along the lines of the pacific northwest arboreal octopus. Well it does exist, its pretty cool and also very cute. With those obvious adaptions for living and hunting in water its also a nice little example of the effect of evolutionary pressures.

Check out the wikipedia article as well as this one from the smithsonian national zoological park. Head here to see them in action. Oh and because I'm nice here's another youtube video of one wandering about.

Want To Be A Crank?

I've just run across this brilliant post over at scienceblogs, setting out how to be the most successful crank you can be, it reads like the DdH/Autodynamics how-to guide to crackpottery. Go on read it, you know you want to. I especially love the suggestion that cranks try to get their papers published in scientific journals.

If you want your manuscript (it may make you sound smarter to call it your "treatise" or "monograph") to actually get published, try something like Medical Hypotheses. Journals with an impact factor of less than 1 might actually be desperate enough to publish something cranky, especially if you can jargonize it enough to make yourself sound smart, or create enough fake data to trick the editors. If it has to do with global warming consider a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed. The Creation Research Quarterly is perfect for anything disproving some facet of evolution, geology, astronomy, or physics. You don't have to be a creationist for them to like your crank theory, anything that pokes holes in dastardly consensus science is a victory.
Then try journals that don't require real experiments, rigorous trial design, peer review or anything that actually indicates actual science has been done. Other cranks in your "field" may have started just such a journal - like the Journal of 9/11 studies. There are about as many places that will publish crank work as there are crank ideas, don't stop trying! If you get your ideas published in such a journal claim victory! You have mainstream acceptance and a publication record now.

Physics Essays anyone?
Or how about how to deal with dissenters:

Accusation: "You haven't published in a real peer-reviewed journal"

Response: Either say "Peer review is just an old-boys network for peon scientists to pat each other on the back", or accuse journal editors of persecuting you. Compare yourself to Galileo.

Accusation: "You don't have solid proof"
Response: Either restate what you said already, restate it slightly differently, call your accuser a name, or suggest they are part of the conspiracy to hide the truth. Compare yourself to Galileo.

This just reminds me of the autodynamics page where they have a picture of Carezani with Einstein, Newton, and Galileo fading off behind him.

I'm sure you'll all be able to spot some of your favourite cranky behaviour in the post, it certainly saved me the time an effort of going an writing a post along those lines.