Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Back to the blog

After a long time not posting anything throughout December I tried to see if I could go even longer without writing anything. And guess what, I managed it. I'll try to be more regular from now on, but I'm sure apathy will set in fairly soon if I don't have anything pressing to write about.

You must all be wanting to know what I've been up to in my sabbatical from blogging. You might expect that it was taken up working hard on the current big astrophysical problems and you'd be partly right except with the hard bit. A slight (well large) malaise has set in over the last few weeks where work is concerned due to affairs of the heart completely outweighing affairs of the head, leading to excess drinking. This has happened at a rather unlucky time in that I'll be having to think about writing up a thesis rather soon.

On the interesting astronomy front there's been quite a lot to talk happening recently. One of the things that has interested me was the observation of an extremely powerful gamma-ray burst (GRB) on 27th Dec 2004. This event originated from a magnetar (an extremely magnetic neutron star) in our galaxy and managed to saturate many spacecraft instruments and even slightly ionise the Earth's atmosphere. One interesting quote was that if this burst had happened within 10 light years of the Earth, it could have destroyed the ozone layer and caused a mass extinction - luckily it was about 50000 light years away on the oposite side of the galaxy. There's also been a fair bit in the news about methane on Mars being possibly the result of life, but I can't be arsed adding anything on that (maybe if someone wants to know I can put a link up).

That's it for now, i'll try not to have another competition with myself to see if I can outdo my last downtime.

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