George, God, and the Grapefruit : Ten Things I Learned

Been watching the ESA Planck live press junket George show thingy. Well, everybody and his hairdresser will be writing up their well considered Planck thoughts over the next hour and a half, so I thought I would just summarise some personal lessons. The follow-on press release is here. Apparently there will be more serious stuff about lunchtime, and here in Embra our very own Andrew Liddle will give a seminar this afternoon. Actual science papers on ArXiv tomorrow. Meanwhile, lets keep it light.

The title is ruthlessly stolen from a a Tweet by Professor R.Ivison.

(1) George’s taste in ties continues to improve.

(2) George would give his children away for the Planck map. According to their Mum, they didn’t hear this because they are in school.

(3) The Universe is a bit like a grapefruit. Roundish, mostly very smooth, but with tinnsy-winnsy dimples

(4) When a Twitter hashtag starts trending, it becomes cloggged up with porno-tweets. This is annoying. Well, unless thats what you are after of course. (Am I missing some kind of filter?)

(5) You can’t mention God, unless you mention that you are not mentioning Him. Her. It.

(6) The Universe is EVEN MORE BORING than WMAP told us. Perfect fit to simple inflation.

(7) EXCEPT … for (a) the ten degree dip, and (b) the preferred direction, aka the axis of evil

(8) The axis of evil lines up with the ecliptic plane. Woahh !  But as ex-Edinbuggerer Tom Kitching said to me, that sounds like zodiacal dust… so maybe when that correction is improved the UNIVERSE IS EVEN MORE BORING

(9) The Hubble constant is exactly what Michael Rowan-Robinson told us years ago (67) without the aid of extreme coolants

(10) Talking of which, ESA say they created the coldest place in space, at 0.1K. Now that is definitely quite cute.

17 Responses to George, God, and the Grapefruit : Ten Things I Learned

  1. Nice summary! Definitely suspicious of the ecliptic plane alignment (and ecliptic pole features). Clearly need to refly the mission at 10AU out or so.

  2. andyxl says:

    You are up early ! BTW, Yvonne tells me in a tweet that she bought the tie.

  3. Martin says:

    That ESA link would be better without the http at the end.

  4. […] zur Rolle des National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center bei der Datenauswertung und noch ein und noch ein Artikel. [17:25 […]

  5. “(9) The Hubble constant is exactly what Michael Rowan-Robinson told us years ago (67) without the aid of extreme coolants”.

    I gather Michael didn’t tell you this 67 years ago. Did he tell it to you in 1967? (Remember, if you can remember the 60s, you weren’t really there.) Or is he 67 now? He was wrong, though, about Omega and lambda; he was a hold-out for the Einstein-de Sitter model.

    Knowing the correct value isn’t the problem; it’s knowing that that value is right. In one of his rare successful attempts at humour, Bill Press once said at a conference (at the same conference, he introduced himself as “the front end of the Press-Schechter horse”, with Paul Schechter in the audience; this was the 1995 gravitational-lensing conference in Melbourne) that someone knows the value of the Hubble constant to two significant figures—we just don’t know who that person is. 🙂

    It is interesting that the various surprises—low quadrupole, axis of evil, too-cold spot—have increased in statistical significance with better data. They are almost certainly not statistical flukes. (Perhaps “very like a whale” would be more appropriate than “a bit like a grapefruit” if they were flukes.) That doesn’t mean they are real features of the universe, though. Despite all the attempts to get the systematic errors under control, my guess is that they are due to some mistake in the data-reduction pipeline.

    Barrow and Shaw predicted Omega+lambda=1.0056 and w=-1 exactly. Stay tuned.

    • Aaahhh, you mean the value of $H$ is 67. OK. Sandage wrote a paper claiming it was 42 (really!). I haven’t read the papers yet, but presumably this is the value derived from Planck alone. My guess is that the real value is somewhat higher.

      • andyxl says:

        Sometimes I can’t tell if you are joking Phillip old bean.

      • The 67 stuff was no joke; only later did I realize you must have been referring to the value for H itself. Also, all the anecdotes I tell in blog comments are also true. (If only you could know about the other blogs I post to pseudonymously!) The Sandage paper is also no joke; here it is so read it and weep.

        And no, the prediction of Barrow and Shaw is no joke either; read it here.

  6. andyxl says:

    1986. Cosmological Distance Ladder. Still available on Amazon !

  7. […] Andy Lawrence e-Astronomer […]

  8. […] colleagues have suggested that my posting on Planck Day was overly frivolous, given the huge importance of what Planck has achieved. (Nicely written up by […]

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