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A day in the life: Conference

In April 2011 the Jodcast team attended the National Astronomy Meeting in Llandudno. This video follows Jen as she shows you a day in the life of an astronomer at a conference. You can find the full interview with Dr Haley Gomez in the May 2011 Extra show and an interview with the plenary speaker, Professor Gianfranco Bertone, in the June 2011 show.


Jen (): Hello I'm Jen and in this video I'm going to give you an insight into a day in the life of an astronomer at a conference.

Jen (): Today we're at the National Astronomy Meeting 2011 here in Llandudno in North Wales. The National Astronomy Meeting is the biggest meeting of astronomers in the UK. There will be about 500 people here, it's a 4 day conference with lots of sessions and we're going to go inside and check it out.

Jen (): Because there are so many astronomers here with different research interests, the majority of the National Astronomy Meeting is split into what are called parallel sessions, so they cover everything from solar physics to cosmology, future instruments and everything like that. Today, this morning, we're going into the explosive transients, AGN and black holes session which is the one that I'm going to be talking in later today.

Jen (): So it's the first coffee break of the conference but unfortunately instead of going downstairs and having a drink and socialising with people, I'm stuck up here in the room where I'm going to be giving a talk in the next session.

Jen (): So AGN, you've got a central black hole surrounded by an accretion disk, obscuring dust torus, clouds of gas create a broad line region and a narrow line region and you've got these two radio jets emitted from the poles. So blazars are the AGN where one of those radio jets is directed towards us at a very small angle to the line of sight...

Jen (): So I'm here today with Dr Haley Gomez from Cardiff University, welcome to the Jodcast. So you study dust in galaxies, can you tell us what's so special about dust in the universe?

Dr Haley Gomez (): Well if you take dust as the building blocks of life, we're basically talking about solid particles in space. It could be carbon, it could be diamonds, it could be glassy materials, it could be anything like that. And it comes from stars, stars slightly more massive than our Sun and it gets chucked out of these stars and it pollutes the stuff inbetween stars and galaxies and we want to know how that gets formed and how that goes into planets, how it goes into us, I mean we're basically a lump of dust, so where we come from...

Jen (): Now because there are so many different areas of astrophysics that are being discussed here at the National Astronomy Meeting and all these sessions are running in parallel so there are several sessions going on at one time discussing different physics, it can be quite hard to actually get an overview of what's being discussed. So the organisers put on what are called plenary lectures where they invite an expert in each field that has a session and everyone's invited to come along so there can be up to 500, 600 people in these lectures and you get an overview of the science that's being discussed. So let's go and listen to one of those now.

Professor Gianfranco Bertone (): ...the existence of a new scheme in physics and the existence of new particles, so a new level of physics with a new hierachy of particles. In the language of supersymmetry, for instance, for each particle in the standard model there will be a supersymmetric partner...

Jen (): So we've made it to afternoon coffee. Unfortunately I missed coffee this morning due to stressing over my talk, but coffee at conferences is a really great way to meet with people and network with other people who might be at different institutes so you don't normally get to see them. At the National Astronomy Meeting it's a bit different because some companies and telescopes also have stands here. So behind me you can probably see the ALMA stand. There's also LOFAR, eMerlin, Herschel and Planck and some of the publishers are here with astronomy textbooks for sale. At coffee as well in here we've got the poster boards, so quite a few people if they don't get a talk, especially students, will present a poster instead with their research and then over coffee will have the opportunity to tell people about what they're doing.

Jen (): So it's the end of a very long day here at the National Astronomy Meeting, there's been lots of good talks, lots of interesting science but now it's off to the pub for a well deserved drink. Hope you've enjoyed the video and we'll see you next time.

Show Credits

Presenter:Jen Gupta
Interviewee:Dr Haley Gomez
Plenary Speaker:Professor Gianfranco Bertone
Camera:Megan Argo & Melanie Gendre
Editors:Mark Purver & Jen Gupta
Opening sequence:Mike Peel
Music:Susan M. Lockwood & Kevin MacLeod
Executive Producer:Jen Gupta
Special thanks to:Dr Robert Massey, RAS
Cover art:Jen presenting her work
Website:Jen Gupta & Stuart Lowe

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