Corpses coming to life

November 3, 2008

They take Halloween really seriously round here. Houses get covered with fake cobwebs, there are tombstones in people’s gardens, and skeletons dangle from trees. Folk wished me “happy halloween” on the way home, and urged me to make sure I had enough candy in the house. The weather changed right on cue. After four warm bright and dry months I found myself walking home in the gathering gloom and a blustery wind, with the smell of coming rain in the air. I could hear distant cackling. What about this “trick or treat” thing ? Did I have a choice ? If I say “trick” , do my windows get smeared with blood ?

I was somewhat prepared. Although “trick or treat” is rare in England, something similar is normal in Scotland, where it is called “guising”. As explained here on Wikipedia, the main difference is that in Scotland the kids are expect to perform (sing a song etc) to get the sweeties. When the kidlums came to my door and I asked if they were going to sing, they were a tad puzzled. Oops. On the other hand, they don’t do the November 5th Guy Fawkes thing in Scotland. (Or America of course..) I remember asking friends when we first moved to Scotland why they didn’t celebrate Guy Fawkes night, and got an odd stare. “Well”, they explained patiently, “we don’t really see that burning Catholics is that much fun”. Ahh. See what you mean.

Anyhoo. All seems quiet in science politics land. The STFC earthquakes have ceased rumbling. The Wakeham report, having exploded with all the force of a suburban Roman Candle, has fizzled out in the drizzle. All is darkness and silence. But wait ! As midnight arrives, the corpse comes back to life

Can anybody tell me what prompted this non-story ? And who are these “leading physicists” anyway ? Am I missing something important out here on the Western Rim of the World ?

Spooky Space News

October 23, 2008

I am getting emails that are telling me that HST, Chandra and XMM were all down at the same time ..

Mike Watson tells me contact was lost with XMM on Saturday… but it has been regained today.

Martin Elvis said :

“I was working Saturday night for a Monday talk & Pat Slane was doing the same, when he got paged (as Top Mission Planner) that Chandra had gone into Sun Normal Mode (ie perpendicular to sun)….

Hubble we all knew about, but I saw Rodger Doxsey at STScI (which is where I was going Monday), and he told me about the 24h of good side B ops, followed by a glitch that they are still debugging. Incremental start-up of side B systems going well; options of cross-patching sides A,B exist; >15yr old spare undergoing check-out at GSFC for SM-4 (=major reason for delaying launch).”

Martin later said, noting the closeness to Halloween :

“Cue Twilight Zone music.”

To which Mike’s response was :

“probably due to LHC switch-on, which also precipitated major global financial instability as we all know”

Hey, is Fermi ok ????