Public lectures

The Great Debate is tomorrow!
Published 11/17/2010 in Fernando Patat Author Ferdinando
Tomorrow Pavel Kroupa and Simon White will publicly debate on Dark Matter. The Colloquium is going to be held at the University of Bonn, in the context of the Bethe Lectures. As far as I understand from Pavel, it will be videotaped, but there will be no live broadcast. For your convenience, here is a summary of the event: The subject of this months Bethe Colloquium concerns a question at the interface of cosmology, astrophysics and elementary particle physics: the possible existence of Dark Matter. The existence of Dark Matter is the most prominent proposal to account for the discrepancy between measurements... read more ❯

The curtain falls on the Light Symposium 2010
Published 10/30/2010 in Fernando Patat Author Ferdinando
Sitting in Stockholm’s Airport I try to rap up these last three days. I must say everything went much above expectations. I met a few remarkable people, Tor Nørretranders and Abraham Haim in the first place. But also a group of young lighting designers with an open minded approach. I was surprised by the number of times natural light was mentioned while talking about night environment. And the need for making a step backwards, the need of getting back in touch with darkness. Although I had made my point very clear on the first day, I had one more occasion yesterday,... read more ❯

A dinner with Tor Norretranders in Stockholm
Published 10/30/2010 in Fernando Patat Author Ferdinando
I am just back from a very nice dinner with Tor Norretranders in Stockholm. Impressive personality, vast culture. And, most surprising of all, with a deep knowledge of Astronomy. Ok, now you might ask who this guy is, what on earth I am doing in Stockholm, and why you should be interested in knowing this. Ok, let me give a bit of background. As a consequence of my talk on light pollution and Astronomy in the CIE conference in Vienna, last March, I got invited to give a one hour lecture to the Light Symposium 2010, here in Stockholm. The most... read more ❯

Shaking the tree pretty hard
Published 10/20/2010 in Fernando Patat Author Ferdinando
Before I start getting done with the re-submission of a paper on the atmospheric transparency above Cerro Paranal, let me share with you the following, which you might find interesting. You certainly know that one of the key constituents in current cosmology is dark matter, first postulated in 1934 by one of the most prominent astronomers of last century, Fritz Zwicky (this reminds me that my master thesis advisor, prof. Roberto Barbon, was a post-doc of Zwicky, at Caltec). As the name says, this material is, well, dark. So that it cant' be seen directly. What you can see is its... read more ❯

A memorable afternoon. Meeting Jayant Narlikar & Halton Arp
Published 4/29/2010 in Fernando Patat Author Ferdinando
Prof. Jayant Narlikar is visiting the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Garching this week. Today he gave a very interesting seminar on a project he led, for the search of micro-organisms in the stratosphere. You may remember that Jayant Narlikar was a student of Sir Fred Hoyle, one of the most productive and imaginative scientists of last century. Hoyle has done lots of things, and among these is the revival of the panspermia hypothesis, which he put forward together with Chandra Wickramasinghe. In a nutshell, they proposed... read more ❯

The Stone Sundial finally sees the Sun
Published 4/17/2010 in Fernando Patat Author Ferdinando
You might remember last summer I had installed a stone sundial. Well, during the Easter vacations I finally found the time to complete it. After we had put it in place on the southerly wall of my friend's house, I have asked my friend and ingenieur Armando to manufacture the gnomon. After a few weeks I gave him all the dimension and relevant specifications, he came back to me with a very nice piece of work. He had used stainless steel, and reproduced the sun at the end of the style with a laser cutting machine. The look of the piece... read more ❯

The curtain falls on CIE 2010
Published 3/24/2010 in Fernando Patat Author Ferdinando
I finally find some time to report about the last day of the CIE conference in Vienna. Where was I? Ah, yes, the Gala dinner. It was very nice, accompanied by Strauss and Mozart music, plaid by three young musicians (piano, violin and cello). At some point a number of dancers appeared. The men with a black suit and the ladies wearing a long white dress. It looked like his majesty, the Kaiser Franz Joseph could appear any time. Then the couples dissolved and went searching for a companion around the room. A few minutes after, lots of scientists and... read more ❯

Way too late...
Published 3/17/2010 in Fernando Patat Author Ferdinando
The Gala Dinner of the CIE conference is just over. And it is way too late to report anything sensible about the Circadian Cycle. See you tomorrow ;-) read more ❯

A bright future is ahead of us.
Published 3/15/2010 in Fernando Patat Author Ferdinando
The CIE conference started this morning, with quite a nice opening ceremony. An actor, impersonating no less of a man than Thomas Alva Edison, and holding a shining bulb in his hand brings us to the early times of electric lighting. I am not sure I would call this a "brilliant" idea, but it was certainly original. The appearance of T.A. Edison was followed by a group of dancers, wearing "electric" costumes and lit by a bluish light. Then it was the turn of the President of CIE, followed by a representative... read more ❯

Published 3/14/2010 in Fernando Patat Author Ferdinando
A short one. I arrived in Vienna some hours ago. Beautiful city! I am done with the presentation for tomorrow. The more I look at it the more I am convinced some people are not going to like it... I will be talking tomorrow at 14:30. I am in the keynote speakers list, and I have been given half an hour. That is more than enough to convey the two main messages I have in mind: -Astronomy is a pervasive science, which has percolated through millennia of history, going down to the roots of culture itself (some of you might recognize... read more ❯