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Spreekt u Engels?

Well, I made it to JIVE. I left the house at 8am yesterday and five hours later I'd still only travelled less than 20 miles! Argh. I like travelling, I just hate sitting around in airports.

JIVE is a small organisation which shares a building with the much larger Astron, near the town of Dwingeloo in the Netherlands. JIVE runs the correlator which brings together data from telescopes around Europe and combines it in such a way that we can get useful information from it. The institute sits in a national park with trees in every direction. It really is quite beautiful. The weather is so like Cheshire that I feel right at home! The only thing missing is relief - on the 2-hour train journey from Schiphol to Hoogeveen there wasn't even the vaguest hint of a hill. Astronomers from all over the world come here to reduce their data, and that is why I am here. I'm looking at maser activity in the nearby starburst M82, or I will be when the data have been loaded - it takes quite a while to read in 95 Gb...

The guesthouse is really nice, very well kept complete with a fully stocked pantry! The view from the living room is pretty cool, too. It looks out towards the old (nearly 51 years!) 25-m telescope which hasn't actually been used for some time. When Fritz, the guy who looks after the guesthose, showed me round yesterday, he explained that a group of radio amateurs are in the process of restoring it to full working order. They've managed to get it moving again which is a good start. Pictures when I can load them from my camera...

So, in case you haven't guessed, the title of this post is Dutch, and it means "do you speak English?" It was the only thing I tried to say at the airport, and even then the lady at the ticket office laughed at me! At most airports, pretty much everyone speaks some English, and here is no exception. Still at least I made the effort to try, and I made somebody smile which is always a good thing!

Posted by Megan on Tuesday 29th Jan 2008 (11:02 UTC) | Add a comment | Permalink

Long time...

Quite a bit has happened since I last posted an entry here. We've had the huge celebration to celebrate the 50th birthday of the Lovell telescopes (an event which involved using the telescope as a giant cinema screen, lots of lights, lasers and smoke!) which went really well. That was back in October, at the end of a week-long conference we hosted in Manchester looking at the exciting future ahead for radio astronomy. The move of the astronomers to Manchester took place in September, into the Turing building, a brand new office building on the main university campus. The telescope has broken another wheel, several members of staff have retired or left voluntarily as part of the University's attempt to cut down on costs, and our funding council STFC has got into trouble with finances and looks like pulling out of several major projects as well as cutting back on grants to research groups. It's been somewhat eventful.

And me? Well, I've been carrying on trying to get as much work done as possible while looking around for another job, continuing public outreach (including running a whole bunch of public Star Parties which were all sell-outs), writing and recording the news for the Jodcast each month, learning more on the guitar and trying to learn Dutch! Why Dutch? Well, one reason is that I'm visiting JIVE in the Netherlands next week to reduce some data that I've been meaning to look at for ages. People keep telling me that most people speak English there, but that really isn't the point. I like languages and I'm interested, so I'm going to see how far I get with it.

Right now my computer at work is having some problems with one of it's disks (which, frustratingly, I've been trying to make a backup of for a couple of months now, long story), so I'm about to give up on the day (as I can't do a lot) and go home.

Posted by Megan on Thursday 24th Jan 2008 (16:10 UTC) | Add a comment | Permalink

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