Archive for January, 2010

Tim Garn (1982 – 2010)

Tim Garn

Some very sad news from the Royal Observatory today. Tim Garn, a post-doc in Philip Best’s extragalactic astrophysics group, has died over the weekend. John Peacock writes:

I am very sorry to have to give you some awful news: Tim Garn has died in a mountaineering accident. He was descending from Ben Lui on Sunday January 17, when he suffered a fatal fall.

Tim had been a postdoc at the Institute for Astronomy for little more than a year, and was just at the start of a career full of promise. We will all miss him; but our thoughts are particularly with his family at this dreadful time.

Tim was my office-mate while I was writing up my dissertation in the first half of 2009, & given his prodigious early output, I expected that he’d be around for the rest of my career reminding me of that. He was a pretty classic guy, very old-school and focussed in the office. We didn’t like each others’ tastes in music: once he asked me to turn down the volume when John Adams’ Fearful Symmetries was playing; admittedly, it has a distracting ostinato beat structure.

I remember—shortly after I moved in—I was last out of the office one day and when trying to find the light switch, I flipped a switch that shut off all the power in the room; his computer restarted once I turned everything back on. I disavowed all knowledge the following day, & told him it was because the IT at site could be dodgy sometimes.

It’s a terribly sad loss, & our hearts go out to Tim’s family.

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It’s a new decade, & I’m well rested after a week locked inside the Iberostar Resortcatraz1, so there is no better time for a rejuvenation of the compact between blogger and blogosphere the mathematical space of readers and writers of blogs.

But I’ll ease myself back in with a trivium amusing to perhaps one person only. As we know, I enjoy Andrew Sullivan’s writing, & one gimmick of his blog is the View From Your Window2 snapshot series. I enjoy looking at all these different images, but am yet to bother sending anything in because of a well-known aversion to using cameras myself (Luke is much, much better at that sort of thing). But wait: here is one from Jan 8:

Copenhagen Window

Copenhagen, Denmark, around ten in the morning on January 8, 2010.

Awww. It’s nice to know that there are at least two people in Denmark reading Andrew’s blog. The round tower in the background is none other than the Round Tower of Tycho Brahe, who built it after he was voted off the island where his more famous observations were made. The inside is an ascending spiral—not of steps, but a smooth cobbled road, apparently so that the astronomical instruments could be carted up by horse. It’s very interesting!

I left Copenhagen two days after this photo was taken. I’ve had a nice time here is Mexico, although I’ve been mostly cut off from that taproot of Western Civilization you and I call the Internet. My flight into SFO is in a few hours—and what do I find today on Andrew’s blog?

Berekeley Hills Window

Berkeley Hills, California, a bit before five in the afternoon; I'm on to you, Sullivan!

So, I welcome the Internet back to my inertial frame. I’ll be staying at a place in these very same Berkeley Hills for the next little while and working in the Astronomy Department at UCB. May the bright colours of a new place forming its first impression on the mind provide much for me to write about.

1. I would have thrown myself into the carnivorous tortoise pen after the first day had there not been a cosmology conference to attend—and it was a very good meeting indeed. So a shout out to everyone who made it along. As per the request of the organisers, I draw everyone’s attention to it. There’ll be another one next year!

2. Andrew, Patrick & Chris have put together a book of these windows, selected by the readership from the many, many photos that have been sent in since 2005.

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