CAPS News Story

Leverhulme Artist in Residence appointed: Science and Humanities to attempt embrace

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Friday, 4th February, 2011

Science is to merge with Art in the Centre for Astrophysics & Planetary Science at the University of Kent in Canterbury. The Centre is delighted to announce acceptance of a grant from the Leverhulme Trust enabling Dr. Duncan MacKay to be writer and artist in residence for 2011. Duncan MacKay's background as both an experienced creative artist and former research fellow in astrophysics offers the University a unique opportunity to develop interdisciplinary perspectives. ``Recent years have seen a major increase of popular interest in astronomy, cosmology and particle physics,'' he explained. ``This has yet to be widely reflected in contemporary poetry and art.''

The Galaxy The Man

Dr. MacKay will explore the research experience of CAPS staff and students, translating their preoccupations into his own visual artwork and creative writing. He will be supported by the Director, Professor Michael Smith , in fostering a long-term creative dialogue between the normally disparate departments of Physical Science, English Literature and Fine Arts.

Outreach opportunities that Duncan will also use for spreading the debate on creative parallels between arts and sciences will include CAPS' partners in SEPnet SEPNet, a collaborative initiative between seven university physics departments in the South –East, and of which Professor Smith at UKC is currently Director of Research. In addition, Duncan’s long-standing connections within the Canterbury district secondary school sector, will be exploited to engage particularly senior secondary school students in aspects of creativity underlying the growth of scientific knowledge and the dissemination of scientific ideas.

The mission of the Centre for Astrophysics and Planetary Science (CAPS) is to foster interest in the study of our Universe while advancing the frontiers of knowledge in astronomy and space science. CAPS staff includes 5 permanent academics, two post-docs, one experimental officer, other visiting and associated staff, and about a dozen postgraduates.

CAPS concentrates research into two connected streams which are bridged by the theme: Formation of All Stellar Systems, from our Own to those yet to be discovered. We intend to continue on this metaphorical journey. A full seminar programme and other research, training and teaching resources are provided (see the astro webpages ).

A wide range of world-leading facilities were utilized by CAPS in the last year. The UK station of the LoFAR radio telescope at Chilbolton was opened in September. CAPS contributes directly to this international facility. Facilities which were employed in the reported results include the Herschel Space Observatory (ESA/NASA), the Very Large Telescope (ESO, Chile) , Stardust (NASA), VISTA (ESO, Chile), the SMART spacecraft (NASA), the Rosetta spacecraft (ESA), UKIRT and Subaru (both Hawaii). Internally, the High-Velocity Impact Lab and the Forge Supercomputer were in constant use.

Separate Together

Notes to editors

For more information please contact:
Centre for Astrophysics and Planetary Science The University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NH
Professor Michael Smith