Tuesday, June 4, 2013


This week I am attending this workshop in Helsinki. The focus of the workshop is on re-evaluating theoretical issues in cosmology in light of the new data from the Planck satellite. 

Although the data were released in March, so far as I know they have not yet inspired any major theoretical breakthroughs. This is partly because the results were somewhat disappointingly boring, in that there is no smoking-gun indication in the data of failures of our current cosmological model (for more on this, see here), and therefore no clear hints of which extensions of the model we should be looking to explore further. There are still some niggles in the data, to be sure – such as the much advertised "anomalies". But these have not yet led to any major advances either. As a community it seems we cosmologists are still digesting the Planck results.

This workshop should aid that process of digestion. There are many scientists from all over the world attending, and I'm looking forward to hearing what they think about what the data mean. The way the workshop has been organised deliberately leaves plenty of time for discussion in between the scheduled talks, which I think is always the best way to go. I'm not giving a talk myself, though some work I did recently with Shaun Hotchkiss and Samuel Flender, who are both based in Helsinki, will feature in the poster session. Samuel gets most of the credit for preparing our poster though!

I'm not going to attempt to blog about the workshop in real time. Instead I will try to make a few notes and provide a single post at the end of the week touching on what I thought were the most interesting topics of the week. If you want more detail on each day, you should read Shaun's introduction and day-by-day accounts at The Trenches of Discovery. He did a similar thing before for the official ESA Planck conference, which was very successful. But I'd rather him than me, especially as internet access is rather expensive at my hotel!

Meanwhile, the most remarkable fact to note about Helsinki right now is the weather: a thermometer in my hotel said it was 28ºC this morning, which is wonderful outdoors but when combined with quadruple-glazed windows makes nights rather uncomfortable ...

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