Sir Patrick Moore passes away

Today at 12:25 Sir Patrick Moore passed away peacefully at his home in Selsey, West Sussex.


Patrick presented the BBC’s The Sky At Night for over 50 years, making him the longest-running host of the same television show in history.

He counted himself as a writer and broadcaster first and foremost, but as Britain’s most recognisable scientist for more than 50 years, he inspired countless people to take up astronomy as a hobby or astrophysics as a career.

Chris Lintott

Astronomy has lost one of its heroes and the country has lost an institution. Our thought are with his friends and family.


BBC News report

Sir Patrick Moore: Chris Lintott’s tribute

IOP's Response to the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement

“George Osborne, Vince Cable and David Willetts clearly recognise the value that science can unlock for society, but it’s important to remember that investment in science is a long-term commitment. It starts in schools, through higher education into research and to industry, but the pay-off is that we know it delivers growth and jobs to the UK.”

Response to the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement

Deloitte Report – Measuring the Economic Benefits of Mathematical Science Research in the UK

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) published a report it commissioned from Deloitte. This report is the first study of its kind to quantify the economic value of mathematics research in terms of the employment and its contribution to the UK economy.

The report estimates the contribution of mathematics to the UK economy in 2010 to be

  • 2.8 million in employment terms
  • and £208 billion in terms of GVA

That is about 10% of all jobs in the UK and 16% of total UK GVA.


Economic growth

Mathematics helps drive economic growth across wide sectors including finance, computer services, pharmaceutical and defense. As science and engineering, as well as other sectors for example banking, collate and wish to analyses larger and larger data sets, mathematics and statistics will become ever more vital to this country’s economy.

Without mathematics there would be no smart phones, MRI scanners, new medicines, aeroplanes or bank accounts.

Deloitte Report

Weather forecasting

Weather forecasting relies on heavy mathematical tools and extensive computation. Mathematicians play a rather pivotal role in weather forecasting and modelling.

Around 2,000 mathematicians are employed by the UK Met Office to analyse and evaluate vast amounts of atmospheric trends and information.
The UK is regarded in the meteorological industry as a talent hub with many institutions choosing to locate research facilities in the

Deloitte Report


Mathematical sciences research: leading the way to UK economic growth

An executive summary can be found here (opens PDF)

Learning R

I have decided to improve my computer skills and in particular learn a little R.


R is a language and environment for statistical computing and graphics. It is a GNU project which is similar to the S language and environment which was developed at Bell Laboratories (formerly AT&T, now Lucent Technologies) by John Chambers and colleagues.

This sounds great. According to the R website, R is an integrated suite of software facilities for data manipulation, calculation and graphical display. What makes R useful to me is the fact that it is a programming language (conditionals, loops, recursive functions etc) with built-in operators for calculations with matrices.

Other people like R for its data handling and analysis tools.

Some graphics

Among other things, R is quite good with graphics. Look at this example taken from the R website.




Along side R, I will be using RStudio.

RStudio is a free and open source integrated development environment for R. You can run it on your desktop (Windows, Mac, or Linux) or even over the web using RStudio Server.

My Plans

So, learning R is going to be a weekend project for fun, rather than a serious project. As I manage to develop some code, hopefully with some nice graphics, I will post them here. I imagine a lot of the code will be adapted from peoples existing codes and I will try to give credit as best I can.

If you know of any good resources to help me learn R, then please feel free to share them here. As I find useful websites I will link to them.


The R Project for Statistical Computing

RStudio IDE