Implicit none

The first programming language I ever learned was Fortran. And before you ask, no, I’m not seventy years old. It just so happened that during my undergraduate degree, I took two courses on numerical methods for physics which were taught in Fortran, and for good reason: Fortran is still one of the best languages to…… Continue reading Implicit none

Writing my PhD thesis

How do you write a PhD thesis? This question sounds like the start of the old joke: “How do you eat an elephant? One piece at a time”. A PhD thesis is a document which must explain, summarise and defend three or more years of research in your chosen field, often running to 40,000 words…… Continue reading Writing my PhD thesis

Thesis off-cuts: the reproducibility crisis in cosmology

As we frequently hear1, we’re now in the precision era of cosmology. What this really means is that we’re in the era of measuring things really well, and we’re getting really good at measuring things because we keep building ever more enormous and powerful telescopes. I remember attending the STFC Introductory Summer School on Astronomy…… Continue reading Thesis off-cuts: the reproducibility crisis in cosmology

Superior by Angela Saini: essential reading for every scientist

The death of George Floyd in the United States earlier this year sparked a flurry of long-overdue activity in my corner of academia. For a few weeks in June, everyone was interested in the subject of racism, and for us, racism in academia in particular. An informal strike was held on the 10th of June,…… Continue reading Superior by Angela Saini: essential reading for every scientist

Tribalism in science

Last week, a tweet by Roberto Trotta drew my attention to a recent paper by Simon Portegies Zwart that studied the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by running N-body simulations in different programming languages. https://twitter.com/R_Trotta/status/1309457430267523072 The figure that caught my attention was Figure 3, copied below from the version of the paper published in Nature…… Continue reading Tribalism in science

How asking a question on Stack Exchange kick started my career in research

I did my undergraduate degree at Aberystwyth University in Wales. I took the astrophysics course, which ran in parallel to the plain physics degree for the first two years, covering all the basics such as mathematical methods, classical mechanics, waves, optics, thermodynamics and so on. In the third year the astrophysics became the main focus,…… Continue reading How asking a question on Stack Exchange kick started my career in research