Astronomical Nightmares

September 17, 2009

This afternoon I bumped into Ross McLure in the corridor. I congratulated him on his heroic achievement (with Jim Dunlop and Michele Cirasuolo and other chums) getting out a paper based on the new WFCAM3 observations of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field in just a few days, including claims of several galaxies past redshift seven. Ross said it was indeed a tad exhausting, and was the most stressful thing he’d done since submitting his thesis.

This sent me into anecdote mode. Many moons ago for my thesis in Leicester, I had spent days on end staring at hundreds of “lines of position” plots for Ariel V X-ray sources. One night I dreamt I was an error box, and couldn’t find the X-ray source I was supposed to enclose. I woke up sweating.

Some while ago I told Jim Dunlop this story, and he immediately topped it with his own thesis-submission story. One has to bear in mind that Jim’s supervisor was John Peacock, who has a brain the size of six planets. This is a wondrous thing, but in those latter days, could only add to the stress. In Jim’s dream, he was printing out a copy of his thesis, when suddenly it stopped printing on paper and starting printing on fish. Jim says that his immediate thought was “oh no ! what will John think ???”

Any more ?