I teach an introductory course in big bang cosmology at Waterford Institute of Technology in Ireland and this weblog will be mainly concerned with the universe and its puzzles (see Categories)…with occasional pieces on science and society, climate science, surfing, skiing and whatnot

Cormac O’Rafferty

ANTIMATTER: an exotic form of matter in which the electric charge of each particle is the opposite of that in normal matter. Question is, why is our universe made up almost entirely of matter?

53 responses to “About

  1. Hi,
    Just testing to see if this works.

  2. coraifeartaigh

    Yep, active at last!

    • Rafael Madan

      I saw that you discussed my distant cousin, Venetia Phair (namer of Pluto) briefly. Her grandfather was Falconer Madan (Librarian of the Bodleian), whose brother was Henry George Madan (Science Master at Eton), who was the namer of Deimos & Phobos – the moons of Mars, of course. Given your connection with Waterford, I thought you might be interested to know that they descended from the Madan family of Waterford (as am I).

  3. rachel quinn

    very interesting read!!

  4. cormac

    Hey Rachel, good to hear from ya!

  5. frederik

    hey cormac, fascinating stuff, but hopefully you’ll take a rest from explaining the universe and hit those slopes with us again! ;-)

  6. cormac

    Hey Frederik, great to hear from ya. I certainly hope to go skiing this year. How about one of the week-long FISC trips?
    Are you on facebook?

  7. Hi Cormac,

    I met you at your talk in Trinity College on Thursday evening but unfortunately didn’t have much time for a decent chat. The first thing I’d like to say is that I thought your talk was excellent – beautifully presented slides and a wonderfully clear and enthusiastic talk. I had been at a maths talk the previous evening with several of the same people and, although they found that talk very impressive, many of them really hadn’t a clue what was going on. Afterwards the general consensus was that it was a bit like a television spectacular – all show but unintelligible content. On the other hand, the word about town after your talk was very positive. Not just nice clear slides but an enthusiastic speaker who presented his case concisely and in a logical order. It certainly went down well. As you said in your blog, it’s a pity there weren’t more people there.

    Did you have to travel back to Waterford that evening? I hope not, but then for someone of your energy it wouldn’t surprise me.

    I do hope I get to meet you again soon and, more importantly, that I am privileged to hear another of your fine lectures.

    With best wishes,

    Robert Kerr.

    ** Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana. **

  8. iamsamiam

    Great topics – I look forward to reading and participating in the ongoing discussion.

  9. cormac

    Thanks Samiam – enjoying your blog too

  10. Colin Rosenthal

    Hi Cormac,

    It was a surprise to see your name turning up on Peter Woit’s blog like a bad penny :-)

    I’m back living in Århus again these days – this time as an IT developer at the University Library. What have you been up to in the last decade or so? Do you ever visit Denmark or have any contact with the crowd we used to hang about with back then – at the ISC and the like?

    Are _you_ on facebook?


  11. cormac

    Hey Colin, long time no hear!
    No I’ve never been back, except one week shortly afterwards – you lucky lucky thing. I would have happily stayed in Denmark or Germany, it’s becoming more and more of a problem. Ireland drives me nuts sometimes…
    Yes I’m on FB, be delighted to hook up with any of the old crowd. Paul moved to Ireland, but I lost track of him…
    Is the ISC still going? I think that was the apex of my miserable little social life…

  12. B. Mc G.

    From your website…

    “There were several prominent references to corporate greed, to unsustainable energy consumption and to America’s reduced standing in international affairs. He sounded like he meant it. It will be interesting to see whether an intelligent man who is clearly well-motivated will be able to stand up to the vested interests of ideologues and big business…”

    Before you are quick to criticize big business,you should remember that it is big business that allows you to be able to spend your life cloistered away from the real world!

  13. cormac

    Real world? here speaks a man who has clearly never taught.
    It is also Big Business that practically crashed our entire financial system.

  14. Enda

    Hi Cormac, great blog! Looking forward to working my way through it over the next few weeks :) Maybe I’ll see you next year – if you can convince them to run Phys/Comp again!


    • cormac

      Hey Enda, you can find the cosmology posts by using the category section.
      Re next year, you never know – there has still been no final decision..

  15. Our website Science.org is a informational databases and online news publication for anything and everything related to science and technology. We recently ran a poll asking our website users regarding what online informational resources they use to keep up to date or even to simply find great information. It seems many of our users have labeled your blog as an excellent source of Space information. We have reviewed your blog and must say, we absolutely love the information you have made available to the public and would love to make your blog a part of our top science blogs. After browsing your blog, our research team has decided to award you a Top science Blogs award banner.

  16. Hi, Cormac.

    In response to your post on my blog, I know that Mrs. Hubble once drove Einstein to an appointment when he was visiting California, whereupon he told her that “your husband’s work is beautiful–and he has a beautiful spirit.” But I’m not sure what Frau Einstein told Grace. Do tell….

    Best, Marcia

  17. cormac

    There is an old story that when Mrs Hubble said “My husband studies the universe through this telescope” to Frau Einstein during her visit to Mount Wilson, Frau Einstein primly responded “Oh really? My husband does that on the back of an old envelope!”

  18. Thanks for the reminder. How could I forget that? I once used it in a story I did on Einstein for National Geographic! It’s hard to track down whether it’s based on a real incident or merely apocryphal. But it’s a fun quote nonetheless.


  19. Noel Clarke

    Cormac,Great site and blog. Thanks. Can I ask, do you know of any irish site where I could submit a question (kind of like NASA’s “Ask an Astrophysicist”)? I’m sure my question is a relative simple (basically, what evidence is there for universal expansion, such that if I could collect the same measure for the planets of the solar system, it would demonstrate rotation rather that expansion), but I have not been able to find an answer online and would prefer to ‘ask an Irish expert’ rather than a US expert! (I’m not being xenophobic, but would like to support an Irish based service – if one exists.)


  20. I turn up this article from google,it’s extraordinarily useful against me,I upright rack up these infomation.I from subscribe the newsletter,do these articles entertain copyright limit? can I brief them in my blog?

  21. cormac

    Hi Noel, I don’t think there is such a website that is Irish-run.
    Re the expansion of the universe, it’s important to realise that it’s not universal – you and I are not expanding, and neither is our solar system. Even our nearest galaxy is approaching us, not receding, all because gravity dominates on these scales).
    However, measurements of the speeds of the most distant galaxies all suggest that, on the largest scales, the universe is expanding…and the expansion is accelerating!

  22. Hello,

    I’m the Environment editor at Before It’s News. Our site is a People Powered news platform with over 1,000,000 visits a month and growing fast.

    We would be honored if we could republish your blog RSS feed in our Environment category. I’ve really enjoyed what I read on Antimatter today and I believe our readers need to read what your blog has to say.

    Syndicating to Before It’s News is a terrific way spread the word and grow your audience. Many other organizations are using Before It’s News to do just that. We can have your feed up and running in 24 hours. I just need you to reply with your permission to do so. Please include the full name and email of the person who will be attached to the account, and let me know the name you want on the account (most people have their name or their blog name).

    You can also have any text and/or links you wish appended to the end or prepended to the beginning of each of your posts on Before It’s News. Just email me the text and links that you want at the beginning and/or ending of each post. If you know html you can send me that. If not, just send me the text and a link to your site. It should be around 200 characters or less (not including links).

    You can, if you like, create a custom feed for Before It’s News that includes multiple links back to your blog or web site. We only require that RSS feeds include full stories, not partial stories. We don’t censor or edit work.

    All the best,

    Chris Holehouse
    Editor, Before It’s News

  23. Hi Cormac,

    Sounds great. Drop me an email with the info listed above and we’ll get you up on the site right away.

    Take care,

    Chris Holehouse
    Editor, Before It’s News

  24. Hello,

    I have a website for electric circuits simulation, its based on Flash 10, I will be glad if you just go and see it:

    Also, you can submit lessons and save new circuits

    I will be glad to hear from you!
    Would you be interested to write about my lab ? it has Ohmmeter, Voltmeter, and Amper meter as well withe realistic sticks :)


  25. Mark Farrell

    Hi Cormac,

    You taught me first year physics last year in WIT, I came across this earlier and thought you might like it. You were a stickler for the orders of magnitude!

  26. cormac

    Thanks Mark, it’s great

  27. chuck meek

    I applaud you on an excellent blog. I find your articles to be useful resources for my high school age children. I wish you continued success in your endeavor.

  28. Neill Muldowney

    would you mind e-mailing re a post of yours ?, i will fill you in , Kind Regards Neill

  29. Hi Cormac,

    I have just been directed to your segment on the RTE News by a friend. I just want to say that you explained it so well, especially given that the majority of the viewers were non-scientists. You managed to give loads of information without getting caught in the common trap of getting too technical. Mr. Dobson also seemed genuinely interested (which for a newsreader is a good sign).

    I am also very proud to say you taught me a variety of topics in WIT, every single one of which was presented with a tangible passion: not a single question was unanswered (even though they were quite often far beyond the scope of the course!), and each lecture left me looking forward to the next.

    It also makes me sad to know that the next generation of aspiring Physicists will be crippled by the infamous Project Maths; but, I am afraid that is a topic for another day.

    Yours in Physics,


  30. cormac

    Thanks James! Havin a lousy week and term is coming up like an express train so it’s nice to hear something positive. I still haven’t finished my book based on the course but I’m nearly there…

  31. Toni Deser

    hey Cormac –
    Just writing to say ‘hi’ from sunny California USA! My father, Stanley Deser, is a physicist who was a colleague of your Dad’s. And our families all met each other both in Bures and in Dublin once after that when we were kids.
    (we all visited you guys in Dublin when my Dad gave a talk at Trinity in 1980, I think. And we met at the Residence in Bures in the mid 70’s).

    My Dad just discovered your blog and sent it on to me!
    I would love to know what all your siblings are doing and where they all live…I was particularly friendly with your brother Finbar.

    My name is Toni Deser and I’m the eldest of the 3 Deser siblings.
    I live in Palo Alto CA and am a retired linguist/artist & travel nut.
    (my husband works at Google)

    My parents left Boston nearly 7 years ago and now live in Pasadena CA where he’s working at Caltech. (still wriiting papers madly at age 81!
    One sister is also in the LA area, the other in Boulder CO.

    Fun to see your blog!

  32. cormac

    Good God! Of course I remember Bures! Finbar passed through the village just last week and took some photos. Actually, he has a much better memory than me, but I remember the family and I often see your father’s name. Are you on fb?.

    • Toni Deser

      ha! How funny to hear that!!
      Yes I am indeed on FB and in fact looked there for both you & Finbar yesterday but wasn’t able to find either of you guys!!
      What does Finbar do & where does he live now?

  33. cormac

    Should be there..

  34. tomthe4-

    Dear Mr. O’Raifeartaigh,

    I am writing to you to ask if you could offer me some help with a school project.
    My name is Tom McCarthy and I am a first year student at St.Gerald’s College in Co.Mayo.
    Along with a fellow First year student and a second year I’m entering the Sci-Fest competition in the hopes of winning and going on to enter the BT Young Scientist competition next year. I got your e-mail from a book review in the December 2010 edition of “Physics World,” about Chris Impey’s book “How it ends.”
    My project is to try and produce electricity from the kinetic motion of your step. A project alike to this has been done already, it charges your mobile phone when you walk and the Japanese have also installed mats in their train station which when stepped on open the electric gate in front of you.
    The teacher that is helping with applications for the project has been slightly skeptical about the project working as we have to make a prototype but supporting us anyways.
    I was wondering if you would have any helpful advice, places or other people I could contact to help with the project.

    This is just copy and pasted from an e-mail I sent you @coraifeartaigh@wit.ie but I’m not to sure if you still use that address. I’ve now found that your into cosmology so you mighn’t have that much to offer but anything helps!
    Tom McCarthy.

  35. We absolutely love your blog and find many of your post’s to be precisely what I’m looking for.
    Do you offer guest writers to write content for you?
    I wouldn’t mind creating a post or elaborating on many of the subjects you write about here. Again, awesome website!

  36. Magnificent goods from you, man. I’ve understand your stuff previous to and you’re just extremely wonderful.
    I really like what you’ve acquired here, certainly like what you are saying and the way in which you say it. You make it enjoyable and you still take care of to keep it sensible. I can not wait to read far more from you. This is actually a wonderful web site.

  37. Sorry I missed your comment over on my blog – got lost in the spam filter – but is up now and I’ve replied. Thanks for stopping by.

  38. Peter Kos

    I read your article about Dr. Al Kelly “Refuting Einstein: a media controversy”. There are many tests that presumably proved and many that disproved Einstein’s theories of relativity. In my recent article “On the meaning of Einstein’s relativity – Scientific review of and philosophical reflection on Einstein’s theory of special relativity” published by PHYSICS ESSAYS Vol. 27 No. 3, 2014 I have showed the errors that Einstein made in developing this theory. Unless physicists will update their philosophical views they can argue for ever the validity of this incorrect theory and the theoretical physics build upon it.
    Peter Kos Ph.D.

  39. Steven Meyerson

    Notify me of new posts via email.

  40. About your question on antimatter being so little in number compared to (regular) matter: isn’t that a question similar to that of why is it that there are so few left-handed people when compared to right-handed ones? What kind of answer are you expecting to find here, ultimately, Cormac? (Isn’t it simply: “Just because”, in the sense that “That’s just the way it is”?).

  41. I am looking forward to what you have to say about the discrepancy in the age of the universe (1/H) between the Planck CMB measurements and the recent Gaia measurements of Cepheids. 66.9 km/s/Mpc (Planck) and 73.0 km/s/Mpc (Cepheids) are far enough apart to suggest that either there is something missing in the models, or an assumption is not valid.

  42. Pingback: La pizarra que aclaró el error aritmético de Einstein | Ciencia | La Ciencia de la Mula Francis

  43. Enjoyed your blog.
    Can you comment on the new LHC data released last week? See https://tienzengong.files.wordpress.com/2017/03/nowhere-to-run1.pdf

  44. strinvalid

    I read a 10yr old article that you wrote “Einstein’s theory of relativity clashes with common sense” There is more that clashes with his theory and I was very interested in your thoughts.

    From his original thesis, Einstein said light speed is always constant (c). There is very clear evidence for this. However, later in the paper, he writes light “is always propagated along those axes with the velocity √{c2-v2}.​”
    and light moves “with a velocity c-v, measured in the stationary system​”

    This appears self-contradictory… light speed cannot be all three:
    constant (c)
    non-constant (√{c2-v2})
    non-constant (c-v)

    Thanks for your thoughts!

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