London Metropolitan University students may be deportated

The UK Border Agency (UKBA) says student attendance at London Metropolitan University has not been monitored and that many have no right to be here. The university will no longer be allowed to authorise visas.

Many non-EU students may now be thrown out of the country.

These are problems with 1 university, not the whole sector. British universities are among the best in the world – and Britain remains a top-class destination for top-class international students.

UKBA spokesperson



UKBA release
BBC New Report

Stephen Hawking at the paralympics

Professor Stephen Hawking will be narrating the opening ceremony of the paralympics in London. Prof Hawking will act as a guide to Miranda, a character from William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest. Prospero, another character from the play will be played by Sir Ian McKellen.


Hawking on the “Vomit Comet” in 2007.

“You will be taken on the most exquisite journey of discovery inspired by the wonder of science. Both Hawking and McKellen in their narrative talk about what we all need to remember: don’t just look down at your feet, look at the stars, be curious.”

Jenny Sealey


BBC News

NASA's Curiosity rover: some pictures

I though I would link to some of the wonderful pictures of Mars taken by Curiosity.

looking west

Looking south-southwest from the rover’s landing site in Gale Crater.


Here is a panorama of the landing site.


Mount Sharp, a mountain inside Gale Crater, where the rover landed. Below the line of white dots, are relatively flat-lying strata that bear hydrated minerals. Hydrated minerals were not detected by the orbiters.


The layered base of Mount Sharp.

I for one think the images are just wonderful and I am sure they contain lots of good science. I will let the geologists and planetary scientists comment on that further.


All the pictures here are taken from NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory website.

Neil Armstrong dies

The first man on the Moon, Neil Armstrong has died at the age of 82. He set foot on the Moon on the 20th July 1969, making his famous “one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind” speech.


He died due to complications from heart surgery he had earlier this month.

“As we enter this next era of space exploration, we do so standing on the shoulders of Neil Armstrong. We mourn the passing of a friend, fellow astronaut and true American hero.”

NASA Administrator Statement

Our thought are with his family.


BBC News

NASA Statement

fractal with noise

Just for fun I though I would have a look at some Julia sets with random noise. So I decided to have a look at the Julia set for \(F_{c}= \exp(\frac{z^{2}}{2})\) and \(c = 2- 0.5I\). This was chosen for no particular reason.

To this I modified the algorithm to include some noise in the form of a random complex number. The random number is of the form \(R_{\#} = \frac{z_{R}}{\#}\)

where \(|z_{R}| \leq \sqrt{2}\) and \(\#\) is a real number that scales the random number.

Basically, as the random numbers become larger then the fractal pattern gets “dissolved” in random noise. I won’t claim there is any real scientific value in this experiment. Enjoy the pictures.

no noise

Here we have no noise. As the pictures go down the noise increases.

The Dirac Medal awared for topological insulators

Duncan Haldane (Princeton),Charles Kane (Pennsylvania) and Shoucheng Zhang (Stanford) have won this year’s Dirac medal from the International Centre for Theoretical Physics in Trieste for their work on topological insulators.

dirac prize

Shoucheng Zhang, Duncan Haldane and Charles Kane.

Topological Insulators

Topological insulators are materials that act as insulators in their bulk, but allow current to flow on their surfaces. The important thing is that these surface states are topologically protected: these states exist due to “topological reasons” and stable against imperfections in the material.


Physics World