Tag Archives: starmus

Starmus 2019 – from Apollo to Virgo, Buzz Aldrin to Brian May, and exoplanets to extremely large telescopes.

Guten tag folks!

As promised earlier, herewith, a bit lot more detail on some of the presentations at this year’s Starmus in Zurich. The main theme here: the first moon landing.

Quick (relevant) digression: it was our traditional all-day-and-night birthday bash the other week, and since it’s just a few days since the 50th anniversary of the Neil Armstrong’s giant leap for mankind, we thought we’d add a sprinkling of cosmonautical space dust to the proceedings: we invited along two very experienced and very highly-respected astronauts: Oleg Kotov and Sergey Krikalyov. (And let me tell you that both of them have no doubts whatsoever that the Americans really did land on the moon!)

But back to the Starmus highlights. Let me go through some of the best few presentations:

Gerry Griffin was one of the managing directors of the Apollo Program. He was one of the heroes who managed to get the stricken Apollo 13 back to earth safely. A very interesting story – dramatized many times, most notably in the 1995 movie Apollo 13 starring Tom Hanks.

Read on…

Starmus 2019 – stars of the stars.

So, what else did we get up to in Zurich, besides beer-and-bathe by/in the river? We got ourselves to perhaps my fave annual festival – STARMUS, which – oh my galaxy! – is already in its fifth year! Space, universes, stars, black holes; man’s space projects; plus assorted other jaw-dropping reports on scientific research from all over the planet and beyond; plus a traditional mega-music concert of impressive caliber (alas, which we traditionally miss).

Check out some of the speakers at this year’s event:

Read on…

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Sun in Trondheim – It’s All Mine.

No, not Fog on the Tyne, but Sun in Trondheim! I could hardly believe it either!…

And, in anticipation of the ‘inevitable’ rain before getting here I’d gone and prepared a quote from my fave authors about the stuff! Oh well, you might at well still hear it…:

 “It was getting dark, and still pouring with rain. Large, heavy droplets of unhurried rain, in no rush at all. The rain will fall on an empty city, washing pavements and trickling through rotten roofs… Then it will wash everything away, dissolving the city to reveal virgin land again. While the rain keeps falling, falling.

All over the world it’s raining. Over steepled roofs – rain. Down hills and ravines – rain. One day it will wash everything away, but not soon…”

So, like I say – the sun came out to play that day :)…:

When I looked out the window of my hotel room after waking up I had little trouble noticing this temporary guest in the port. It had more than double the number of floors of our hotel (in the pic after it):

Read on: Impressive from all angles…

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Stars, Strings, Exoplanets, Apollos, and Now Politics – Starmus 2017.

Hi folks!

Time to tell you all about this year’s Starmus. Last year the conference took place in sunny Tenerife. This year – just the opposite: it was in rainy Trondheim in Norway. Not that the rain made the experience any worse. Mere weather cannot dull something so otherworldly as Starmus…

Here’s the audience slowly filling up the venue just before kick-off:

This year 2,500 folks attended (at least, that’s how many tickets were sold), plus there’d have been untold numbers watching the proceedings via the Internet. And judging by the fact that the large hall was packed, I reckon all those who purchased tickets were in fact there.

Read on: Norwegian armed chess forces…

Unwelcome guests in the streets of Trondheim.

 “The rain fell for no particular reason, sifting from the roofs in a fine water spray. In air drafts, the rain accumulated into misty white columns which dragged from one wall to another. The rain roared through and splashed down from rusty rain-pipes. The rain spread over the pavement and flew along the watercourses that had eroded between cobblestones. The heavy black-and-gray clouds crept slowly just above the roofs. The man was an uninvited guest in the streets, and the rain showed him no welcome.”

© “The Ugly Swans” by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky.

“The man was an uninvited guest in the streets, and the rain showed him no welcome.” – This is a spot-on description of me and my travel companion A. Sh. while in the lovely city of Trondheim, Norway.

The view from the window holds no promise whatsoever of sunny pleasure-beaches –

either by day…

…or by night.

In this sort of climate, shells end up growing on your ears. Or do ears grow on shells?

Read on: A heroic walk along the embankment…

Days 3-5: Stars + Music = Starmus.

The Starmus-ship Enterprise journeyed further – for a third, fourth and fifth day! Yes, five full days for one single conference – and me present for (almost) every presentation (of the first three days): a first for me.

I’ve grouped the last three days into one post as five posts on one conference would be a little OTT… and anyway, the last three days were slightly less jaw-droppingly intergalactic than the first two. They were still really something however, including several Starmus ‘star’ moments, including this one:

Stephen Hawking.

This clever chap hardly needs an introduction. He started out by telling us a Brief History of Time His Life. Of course, you can read all about that on Wikipedia, but it’s a lot better from the horse’s mouth. Actually, not from the horses’ mouth, and not from his own, but from software that scans his eyes and selects the required words to make sentences. This, plus the synthesized words over the sound system really made an impression. What a guy! An amazing character. Huge respect.

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Read on: Check out these views!…

Starmus – Day 2: Saturn’s Remarkable Rings and Rats’ Remarkable Memory.

Starmus is a quantumly stellar conference! I can’t remember a conference where I went to every presentation, from beginning to end, but I did here (well, almost). Thoroughly interesting, lively, engaging, stimulating. In short: out of this world – just like most topics spoken about.

All righty. Here’s my quick synopsis of all the speeches of day two:

Brian Schmidt.

The American-Australian astrophysicist. Nobel Prize in Physics in 2011. Thought-provoking presentation about dark matter, of which, he reckons, a large proportion of the Universe is made up, but which we can see with neither the naked, trained, nor micro-/telescope-assisted eye. Also told us about dark energy (sounds like a sub-genre of techno:), which, though also completely unknown and unseen, is “hypothesized to permeate all of space”! (- Wiki).

Galaxies rotate, the Universe expands: it’s as if there’s dark (unknown) matter and energy at play. Even though we can’t see it, it’s thought it makes up… 95% of the contents of the Universe! In other words, all that we can see around us only makes up 5% of what’s really there – 5% of the matter and energy of the Universe. EH?!?!!

Read on: Jokers, scientists and astronauts…

Starmus – Day 1: A Big Bang for the Brain!

Hola folks!

Still on Tenerife – today at the Starmus Festival. Hardly your usual festival, Starmus combines astrophysics, fundamental physics and music. Never heard of it? Well, I hadn’t until this year, but here I am speaking at it already!

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Briefly, this is a conference where the coolest, most distinguished scientists in the world give formal presentations and also speak plenty informally on the sidelines – about the stars, the cosmos and the microcosm, or whatever else is their particular niche they’ve devoted their lives to.

Talk about big names: Stephen Hawking, probably the world’s leading star of science, a physicist-cosmologist who has scientific theories named after him; Brian May – the guitarist from Queen – and also an astrophysicist; Brian Eno – ambient music pioneer, Roxy Music member, U2 producer and thought leader; the astronaut Alexey Leonov, Hero of the USSR and the first man to walk in space; and many more…

Read on: Big Bang and multiverse bubbles…