Black hole-iday


Astronomer (m)e(e/a)ts Powder

As I alluded to in my previous post, last week I spent a rather fabulous week in the Rocky Mountain resort of Aspen. The Aspen Center for Physics hosted a conference, organised by Andrea Ghez, Vicky Kalogera, Fred Rasio, and Steinn Sigurdsson (of the Dynamics of Cats blog), on the Formation and Evolution of Black Holes. I don’t work on black holes myself* but am lucky enough that my significant other does, and the prospect of a week in Aspen just sounded too good to turn down.

I was planning to attend some talks and maybe blog about the meeting, but in the end the lure of the white stuff proved too strong and I spent all my time skiing. Luckily Daniel Holz, blogger at Cosmic Variance, was also in attendance and he will be writing about the meeting on CV.

The one conference activity I attended, apart from eating and drinking, was the customary mid-week public lecture in teh Aspen Opera House, which was given by the ever-enthusiastic Andrea Ghez of UCLA on her work on the supermassive black hole in the Galactic Centre. As well as being an excellent scientist, Andrea is a fun speaker and a great advocate for astronomy. You can watch the lecture online at

Aspen is a pricey ski resort but the infrastructure and facilities are truly fantastic, if you enjoy the snow I recommend you try to go there sometime (on someone else’s grant). Through the Aspen Center for Physics, conference participants get incredibly generous discounts on lift passes, ski rentals, classes, and even food on the mountains – and these discounts extend to hangers-on like me. A really big thanks for that!

* Yet! That may change in 2011. Sort of.