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Cosmic Catastrophes

Professor Coryn came to Cokethorpe to give a talk to Sixth Form students entitled The world we didn’t create: Trashing the Earth: Cosmic Catastrophes: Space, junk and us.

‘Professor Coryn Bailer-Jones of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy delivered a charismatic lecture on cosmological disasters, provoking an interstellar response amongst an astronomically engaged Sixth Form. From the extinction of dinosaurs to the modern catastrophic potential of stars, Bailer-Jones’s realistic descriptions of the havoc that would ensue following a strike really hit home. Alongside an explosive account of supernovas, we were exposed to the darker side of these astronomical phenomena; learning that the odds of Leicester City winning the league were smaller than being struck by a meteorite, leaving a crater in the Earth’s now questionable future.’

Grace Henstone (Upper Sixth, Queen Anne)

‘Talks at conferences immediately after the lunch break are often called the ‘graveyard slot’, as a significant part of the audience drifts off into a digestion-induced sleep. But these students had all eyes open and appeared captivated by the topic. Whether this was the Russian dashcam videos of the Chelyabinsk meteor burning up in the atmosphere with a flash brighter than the Sun, or measures of the explosive impact of asteroids in mega tonnes of dynamite, I don’t know. But their interest was reflected by their keen observations and intelligent questions. 

It was nice to see that it wasn’t just the science students who were interested. At the end of the talk I relayed some of my experiences of university interviews - both as a candidate many years ago, and now as a selector - and hopefully gave them some useful tips. Being at a well-equipped school with obviously highly committed teachers will certainly give them the opportunities they need.’

Professor Coryn Bailer-Jones 


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