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Un o ymchwilwyr y Brifysgol yn ennill gwobr cyfathrebu am ysgogi'r cyhoedd i ymgysylltu ag astroffiseg

Mae ymchwilydd o'r Ysgol Ffiseg a Seryddiaeth, sydd ar ddechrau ei yrfa, wedi cael ei gydnabod gan gwmni blaenllaw Elsevier am ei ddull creadigol a phersonol o gyfleu gwaith ymchwil astroffiseg i'r cyhoedd.

Enillodd Matthew Allen, myfyriwr PhD sy'n astudio esblygiad galaethau, Gwobr Cyfathrebu Dewis yr Ymchwilwyr mewn cinio gwobrwyo yn Llundain (5 Tachwedd). Roedd 70 o uwch-swyddogion y llywodraeth, y byd academaidd a diwydiant yn bresennol.

Cymeradwywyd Matthew am ei ddull creadigol a phersonol, llawn empathi, o gyfleu gwyddoniaeth mewn modd diddorol a chyffrous. Mae ei gyfres fideo wythnosol ar YouTube, a gaiff ei chyhoeddi o dan y ffugenw 'UKAstroNut', yn egluro ystod eang o bynciau gwyddonol ar lefel sylfaenol y gall unrhyw un ymgysylltu ag ef, ac mae'n denu miloedd o wylwyr yn rheolaidd.

Gellir gweld rhywfaint o'i waith yma.

Gan fod ymchwilwyr ar ddechrau eu gyrfaoedd yn wynebu pwysau amrywiol wrth ddechrau ar yrfa yn y byd academaidd, mae'r wobr hon yn helpu i gydnabod pwysigrwydd hanfodol y sgiliau cyfathrebu sydd nid yn unig yn gwella datblygiad gyrfa, ond sydd hefyd yn bodloni'r ddyletswydd o ysgogi'r cyhoedd i ymgysylltu â gwyddoniaeth.

Wrth longyfarch enillwyr y wobr, dywedodd Ron Mobed, CEO Elsevier: "Mae buddsoddi mewn ymchwilwyr ifanc yn hanfodol er mwyn sicrhau dyfodol darganfyddiadau gwyddonol. Nod y gwobrau hyn yw ysgogi a chefnogi ymchwilwyr sydd ar ddechrau eu gyrfaoedd i gyflawni gwaith ymchwil arloesol.  Mae'n braf iawn dathlu eu llwyddiannau a, thrwy godi eu safle, eu helpu i ymgysylltu â'r cyhoedd yn ehangach o ran y gwaith gwych a wnânt ym maes gwyddoniaeth a'r gymdeithas."

Dywedodd Gareth Davies, Cyfarwyddwr Cyffredinol ar gyfer Gwybodaeth ac Arloesedd, Adran Busnes, Arloesedd a Sgiliau'r DU, a roddodd y brif araith yn y digwyddiad: "Dylai'r enillwyr i gyd fod yn hynod falch o'u cyflawniadau. Mae sylfaen ymchwil y DU yn un o lwyddiannau mwyaf ein gwlad, felly mae bod ar flaen y gad yn y maes hwn yn gamp â hanner. Rwy'n dymuno pob llwyddiant iddynt ar gyfer y dyfodol."

Ar ôl derbyn y wobr, dywedodd Matthew: "Mae ennill y wobr hon yn anrhydedd mawr. Mae'n wych gweld y gwaith allgymorth a wnaf innau, a llawer o ymchwilwyr eraill, ochr yn ochr â'n gwaith ymchwil arferol, yn cael ei gydnabod. Bydd y wobr yn fy nghymell i barhau i wneud gwaith allgymorth, a dechrau gyrfa ym maes cyfathrebu gwyddoniaeth ar ôl gorffen y PhD, gobeithio."

Enwebwyd Matthew ar gyfer y wobr gan y gymuned ymchwil, a bleidleisiodd drosto drwy sianelau rhwydwaith cyfryngau cymdeithasol Mendeley. Yna, dewiswyd Matthew o blith rhestr fer o enwebeion, gan banel arbenigol o feirniaid.

Ymchwilwyr o Brifysgol Caerdydd yn dechrau chwilio am grychdonnau bychain yn y gofod

Mae ymchwilwyr o Brifysgol Caerdydd wedi dechrau chwilio am y dystiolaeth uniongyrchol gyntaf o fodolaeth tonnau disgyrchiant.

Mae dau beiriant synhwyro wedi'u huwchraddio yn Hanford a Livingston yn yr Unol Daleithiau, ar-lein erbyn hyn ac yn dechrau chwilio am arwyddion. Nid oes proses mor gywir erioed wedi'i chynnal o'r blaen, ac mae'n rhan o uwch-brosiect LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory).

Bydd ymchwilwyr o Ysgol Ffiseg a Seryddiaeth Prifysgol Caerdydd yn defnyddio uwchgyfrifiadur pwerus i fynd drwy'r data â chrib fân i chwilio am arwyddion amlwg o donnau disgyrchiant.

Mae tonnau disgyrchiant yn grychdonnau bach yng ngofod-amser sy'n cael eu hallyrru o ganlyniad i ddigwyddiadau cosmig grymus, fel sêr yn ffrwydro a thyllau duon yn uno. Rhagfynegwyd y tonnau hyn gyntaf gan Albert Einstein yn 1916 o ganlyniad i'w ddamcaniaeth perthnasedd gyffredinol, ond nid oes neb wedi eu canfod yn uniongyrchol hyd yma.

Wrth iddynt deithio tuag at y Ddaear, mae'r crychdonnau hyn yn dod â gwybodaeth gyda nhw am eu tarddiad ac am natur disgyrchiant, na ellir ei chael drwy unrhyw offer seryddol arall.

Dywedodd yr Athro B S Sathyaprakash, o Ysgol Ffiseg a Seryddiaeth y Brifysgol: "Bydd prosiect LIGO yn agor ffenestr newydd i ni arsylwi prosesau grymus yn y Bydysawd, fel tyllau duon yn gwrthdaro ar gyflymder sydd bron mor gyflym â chyflymder golau. Ym Mhrifysgol Caerdydd, rydym yn gobeithio defnyddio'r arsylwadau hyn i ddeall natur gofod-amser a mater o dan amodau eithafol, a phrofi theori disgyrchiant Einstein pan fydd meysydd disgyrchiant yn dod yn gryf iawn."

Credir y bydd canfod tonnau disgyrchiant yn ddechrau ar gyfnod newydd ym maes seryddiaeth, gan alluogi ymchwilwyr i archwilio munudau olaf oes tyllau duon, yn ogystal â rhoi ciplun o'r Bydysawd ffracsiwn o eiliad ar ôl y Glec Fawr. 

Mae'r ymchwilwyr yn y Grŵp Ffiseg Disgyrchiant ym Mhrifysgol Caerdydd yn arbenigwyr mewn creu efelychiad o ddigwyddiadau cosmig grymus yn y Bydysawd. Maent wedi defnyddio efelychiadau cyfrifiadurol modern ar raddfa fawr o wrthdrawiadau tyllau duon i greu modelau damcaniaethol o donnau disgyrchiant.

Dywedodd yr Athro Mark Hannam: "Dros y degawd diwethaf, rydym wedi cynnal yr efelychiadau cyfrifiadurol hyn i ragweld y signalau sy'n deillio o dyllau duon yn gwrthdaro - ond fyddai hynny'n ddim o'i gymharu â chanfod y digwyddiadau hyn mewn gwirionedd."

Dywedodd Dr Patrick Sutton: "Bob tro mae seryddwyr yn dysgu sut i edrych ar y Bydysawd mewn ffordd newydd, maen nhw wedi dod o hyd i bethau cwbl annisgwyl, o gylchoedd planed Sadwrn i bylsarau ac adleisiau o'r Glec Fawr ei hun. Mae'r gymuned gyfan wedi'i chyffroi i weld pa bethau annisgwyl sydd gan natur i'w gynnig i ni hefyd."

Dywedodd Dr Stephen Fairhurst: "Gweithredu prosiect LIGO fydd dechrau maes seryddiaeth tonnau disgyrchiant.  Byddwn yn defnyddio uwchgyfrifiadur Prifysgol Caerdydd i chwilio drwy ddata'r synwyryddion i adnabod arwyddion amlwg o signalau tonnau disgyrchiant. "

Cymerodd Dr Fairhurst ran mewn ffilm gan y Gymdeithas Frenhinol yn ddiweddar yn hyrwyddo ymchwil i donnau disgyrchiant a chydweithio mewn gwyddoniaeth. Mae'r ffilm i'w gweld isod.

Arian newydd ar gyfer prosiect Prifysgol Caerdydd yn galluogi plant ysgol i arsylwi'r bydysawd yn y dosbarth

O ganlyniad i arian newydd sydd wedi'i roi i brosiect gan Brifysgol Caerdydd, bydd disgyblion cynradd yng Nghymru yn cael y cyfle i edrych ar y bydysawd drwy ddefnyddio telesgopau uwch-dechnoleg o gwmpas y byd.

Heb orfod symud cam o'u hystafell ddosbarth, bydd y plant ysgol yn gallu ymchwilio i lu o ryfeddodau'r cosmos drwy reoli telesgopau o bell dros y rhyngrwyd.

Mae'r fenter yn rhan o gam nesaf prosiect Y Bydysawd yn y Dosbarth Prifysgol Caerdydd sydd wedi cael arian am 3 blynedd arall gan Academi Wyddoniaeth Genedlaethol Llywodraeth Cymru.

Y nod yw ysbrydoli'r genhedlaeth nesaf o wyddonwyr drwy alluogi myfyrwyr i gynnal eu hymchwiliadau eu hunain gyda data ac offer gwyddonol o safon broffesiynol, a helpu i feithrin sgiliau meddwl beirniadol a llythrennedd digidol yn gynnar iawn. 

Partneriaeth rhwng rhwydwaith Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope (LCOGT), Prifysgol Caerdydd a Llywodraeth Cymru yw 'Telesgop Robotig Cymru'.

Bydd ysgolion cynradd yn gallu mewngofnodi i raglen Telesgop Robotig Cymru a'i defnyddio o fis Medi 2015.  Bydd y myfyrwyr ysgol gynradd yn gallu defnyddio telesgop newydd sbon yn Chile yn Arsyllfa Las Cumbres, un o safleoedd arsylwi gorau'r byd, yn ogystal â dwsin o delesgopau proffesiynol eraill drwy'r partneriaethau gyda LCOGT.

Dywedodd Sarah Eve Roberts, Cydlynydd Prosiect Y Bydysawd yn y Dosbarth: "Telesgop Robotig Cymru yw'r unig raglen addysg yn y byd sy'n galluogi plant ysgolion cynradd i ddefnyddio telesgop robotig, ac mae ar gael ar gyfer disgyblion yng Nghymru yn unig. Bydd y teclyn unigryw hwn yn cynnig elfen ddigidol ategol i gyd-fynd â'r deunyddiau ymarferol a roddwyd iddynt yn ystod cam cyntaf y prosiect."

Fel rhan o'r prosiect, sydd hefyd o dan arweinyddiaeth Dr Edward Gomez a'r Athro Haley Gomez o Ysgol Ffiseg a Seryddiaeth Prifysgol Caerdydd, bydd y tîm yn datblygu amrywiaeth o weithgareddau e-ddysgu sy'n annog ymholiadau ac yn seiliedig ar arsylwi'r Bydysawd drwy ddefnyddio telesgop.

Drwy gydol 2014, bu prosiect Y Bydysawd yn y Dosbarth ar waith mewn 99 ysgolion cynradd yng Nghymru. Fe hyfforddodd 131 o athrawon a llwyddodd i gyrraedd miloedd o fyfyrwyr ledled Cymru gan gynnig adnoddau ymarferol a hyfforddiant proffesiynol.

"Mae'r prosiect hwn hefyd yn ceisio cefnogi athrawon drwy roi adnoddau arloseol a chyfleoedd cyffrous iddynt i anelu i gefnogi athrawon drwy ddarparu adnoddau arloesol a'r cyfleoedd cyffrous i roi bywyd newydd i'w gwersi gwyddoniaeth," meddai Dr Edward Gomez.

"Heb y buddsoddiad gan Lywodraeth Cymru, Prifysgol Caerdydd ac Arsyllfa Las Cumbres, a'n partneriaeth gyda phrosiect Ymwybyddiaeth o'r Bydysawd a wnaeth ein hysbrydoli, ni fyddai hyn wedi bod yn bosibl."

Arbenigwyr o Brifysgol Caerdydd yn dangos y dystiolaeth uniongyrchol gyntaf o drawsffurfiad galaethau

Am y tro cyntaf erioed, mae tîm o wyddonwyr rhyngwladol, o dan arweiniad seryddwyr o Ysgol Ffiseg a Seryddiaeth Prifysgol Caerdydd, wedi dangos y gall galaethau newid eu strwythur yn ystod eu hoes.

Drwy arsylwi'r awyr fel y mae heddiw, a syllu'n ôl mewn amser gan ddefnyddio telesgopau Hubble a Herschel, mae'r tîm wedi dangos bod cyfran fawr o alaethau wedi trawsnewid yn aruthrol ers iddynt gael eu ffurfio ar ôl y Glec Fawr.

Drwy ddangos y dystiolaeth uniongyrchol gyntaf o'r graddau y mae galaethau'n trawsnewid, mae'r tîm yn gobeithio datgelu'r prosesau a achosodd y newidiadau dramatig hyn, gan arwain, felly, at well dealltwriaeth o ymddangosiad a nodweddion y Bydysawd fel yr ydym yn ei adnabod heddiw.

Yn eu hastudiaeth, a gyhoeddwyd yn The Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, arsylwodd yr ymchwilwyr tua 10,000 o alaethau sy'n bresennol yn y bydysawd ar hyn o bryd, gan ddefnyddio arolwg o'r awyr a grëwyd gan brosiectau ATLAS a GAMA Herschel.

Yna, fe wnaeth yr ymchwilwyr ddosbarthu'r galaethau'n ddau brif fath: galaethau gwastad, siâp disg sy'n cylchdroi (yn debyg i'n galaeth ni, y Llwybr Llaethog); a galaethau mawr, sfferaidd sydd â haid o sêr ar hap.

Gan ddefnyddio telesgopau Hubble a Herschel, fe wnaeth yr ymchwilwyr edrych ymhellach i'r Bydysawd, ac felly, ymhellach yn ôl mewn amser, i arsylwi'r galaethau a ffurfiwyd yn fuan ar ôl y Glec Fawr.

Dangosodd yr ymchwilwyr bod 83 y cant o'r holl sêr a ffurfiwyd ers y Glec Fawr wedi'u lleoli mewn galaeth siâp disg i ddechrau.

Fodd bynnag, dim ond 49 y cant o'r sêr sy'n bodoli yn y Bydysawd heddiw sydd yn y galaethau siâp disg hyn — mae'r gweddill mewn galaethau sfferaidd.

Mae'r canlyniadau'n awgrymu trawsnewid anferth wrth i alaethau siâp disg newid yn alaethau sfferaidd.

Damcaniaeth boblogaidd yw mai llawer o drychinebau cosmig achosodd y trawsnewid, wrth i ddwy alaeth ddisg a grwydrodd yn rhy agos at ei gilydd eu gorfodi gan rym disgyrchiant i uno'n un alaeth. Byddai'r uniad yn dinistrio'r disgiau ac yn creu pentwr enfawr o sêr. Theori groes yw bod y trawsnewid wedi bod yn broses fwy addfwyn, wrth i sêr a oedd wedi'u ffurfio mewn disg symud yn raddol i ganol disg, a chreu pentwr canolog o sêr.

Dywedodd prif awdur yr astudiaeth, yr Athro Steve Eales, o Ysgol Ffiseg a Seryddiaeth Prifysgol Caerdydd:"Mae llawer o bobl yn y gorffennol wedi honni bod y trawsnewid hwn wedi digwydd, ond drwy gyfuno Herschel a Hubble, am y tro cyntaf erioed, rydym wedi gallu mesur graddau'r trawsnewid hwn yn fanwl gywir.

"Galaethau yw blociau adeiladu sylfaenol y Bydysawd, felly mae'r trawsnewid hwn wir yn cynrychioli un o'r newidiadau mwyaf arwyddocaol yn ymddangosiad a nodweddion y Bydysawd yn yr 8 biliwn blynedd ddiwethaf."

Uwch-gynghorydd Gwyddonol yr Asiantaeth Ofod Ewropeaidd yn trafod 'y daith fwyaf cyffrous i archwilio'r gofod ers degawdau'

Bron i flwyddyn ers i long ofod Rosetta fynd i gyfarfod â chomed dros 400 miliwn km o'r Ddaear, bydd uwch-wyddonydd o'r Asiantaeth Ofod Ewropeaidd yn ymweld â Chaerdydd i drafod ei brofiad personol o'r daith hanesyddol a'r hyn sydd ar y gweill i wyddonwyr sy'n ceisio defnyddio data Rosetta i ddatgloi'r dirgelion ynghylch tarddiad bywyd.

Cynhelir y digwyddiad yn Narlithfa Reardon Smith, Amgueddfa Genedlaethol Caerdydd (ddydd Llun 24 Awst), mewn partneriaeth ag Amgueddfa Cymru ac Ysgol Ffiseg a Seryddiaeth Prifysgol Caerdydd. Bydd yr Athro Mark McCaughrean yn sôn am yr eiliadau cynhyrfus pan ddaethpwyd â llong ofod Rosetta o'i thrwmgwsg 957 diwrnod, a phan ryddhawyd ei modiwl glanio, Philae, a'i anfon i lanio ar Gomed 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Bydd yr Athro McCaughrean yn tynnu ar ei rôl fel Uwch-gynghorydd Gwyddonol yn yr Asiantaeth Ofod Ewropeaidd i roi manylion y daith, a'i hanes deng mlwydd oed. Bydd hefyd yn trafod rhai o'r canlyniadau mwyaf diweddar y mae'r tîm wedi gallu eu casglu gan fodiwl glanio Philae.

Ar ôl lansio yn 2004, cwblhaodd llong ofod Rosetta ei thaith a chyrraedd Comed 67P ym mis Awst 2014. Ychydig fisoedd yn ddiweddarach, rhyddhaodd y llong ofod ei modiwl glanio, Philae, a laniodd ar y gomed ar 12 Tachwedd - pennod gwbl newydd yn hanes archwilio'r gofod.

Ar ôl glanio, gwnaed i Philae weithio mewn tywyllwch a gweithio ar fatris am ychydig ddiwrnodau, cyn mynd i drwmgwsg a deffro ar 13 Mehefin 2015 i gasglu data.

Y mis diwethaf, cadarnhawyd bod modiwl glanio Philae wedi darganfod amrywiaeth o gyfansoddion carbon ar wyneb y gomed, sy'n cefnogi'r ddamcaniaeth y gallai comedau fod wedi darparu'r cynhwysion cynnar ar gyfer bywyd ar y Ddaear.

Cyn ei sgwrs, dywedodd yr Athro McCaughrean: "Rosetta yw un o'r teithiau mwyaf cyffrous i archwilio'r gofod ers degawdau - aeth i gyfarfod â chomed, ei hebrwng, a glanio arni. Ond y stori wyddonol yw'r stori fwyaf chwilfrydig. Beth allwn ei ddysgu am darddiad dŵr ar y Ddaear, ac efallai tarddiad bywyd ei hun, drwy astudio'r gist drysor hon o ddeunydd sydd dros ben ar ôl geni ein system solar, a'i hastudio mor fanwl?"

Dywedodd Dr Jana Horak, Pennaeth Mwynoleg a Phetroleg, Amgueddfa Cymru: "Dyma ddigwyddiad cydweithredol cyffrous arall wrth i Brifysgol Caerdydd ddilyn ein digwyddiad llwyddiannus i wylio'r diffyg rhannol ar yr haul yn gynharach eleni. Mae'n gyfle gwych i glywed am daith ofod hanesyddol yr Athro McCaughrean, ac rwy'n siŵr y bydd gwesteion ar y noswaith yn mwynhau hefyd."

I gofrestru ar gyfer sgwrs yr Athro McCaughrean, 'Rosetta: To Catch a Comet', ddydd Llun 24 Awst, ewch i: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/rosetta-to-catch-a-comet-tickets-17965646733

Cardiff University's commitment to women in science has been recognised with the renewal of a national accolade.

The University has successfully renewed its Athena Swan Bronze Award in recognition of its success in recruiting, retaining and promoting women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths and Medicine (STEMM).

Athena Swan Bronze Award

The Athena SWAN Charter aims to encourage and recognise commitment to combating the underrepresentation of women in STEMM research and to advance the careers of women in academic roles. It also covers the progression of students into academia and the working environment for all staff.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Elizabeth Treasure, who chairs the University's Equality and Diversity Committee and the University's Athena Swan Panel, said: "I am delighted that our commitment to women in science has been formally recognised with the renewal of the Athena Swan Bronze Award, having been awarded the accreditation in 2009.

"The University is committed to supporting, developing and promoting equality and diversity in all of its practices and activities, and creating an environment in which all staff may realise their potential.

"I would like to thank all colleagues who have continued to work hard on championing the Athena Swan initiative across the University."

The Charter is owned by the Equality Challenge Unit (ECU), which works to support equality and diversity for staff and students in higher education institutions across the UK.

Currently there are three Silver and six Bronze award holding Academic Schools with a further six working towards awards. The School of Physics and Astronomy is working towards a Project JUNO Practitioners Level award.

Sarah Dickinson, Athena SWAN charter manager at Equality Challenge Unit, said: "Congratulations to all our new award holders and to those successfully renewing or upgrading previous awards.

"To be successful, applicants to the charter mark need to undertake detailed analysis of their practices, enabling them to plan measurable action that makes a real impact."

Dr Haley Gomez from the School of Physics and Astronomy has won the Inspire Wales Award for Science and Technology in recognition of her contribution to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) related activities.

Haley was one of 12 winners at the annual awards ceremony which sees inspirational individuals from across Wales recognised for the contribution they make to society.

Reacting to the award Haley said: "I was extremely shocked when they announced my name especially given the inspirational people nominated that evening, so it was a real honour to be chosen by the judging panel for the science and technology category.  

"This award recognises the support I have had from the School of Physics and Astronomy to go out into the community alongside the more traditional academic role of a scientist.

"The award also belongs to the University and to the people who have helped run these programmes including Edward Gomez, Chris North and Sarah Eve Roberts who are crucial to the success of the engagement projects recognised with this honour."

Haley began her academic career as an Astrophysics undergraduate at Cardiff University 17 years ago, where she relished the chance to study subjects she had dreamed about as a young child, such as the physics of black holes and the Big Bang.

Professor Karen Holford, Pro Vice-Chancellor for the College of Physical Sciences and Engineering said: "To see Haley's work recognised in this way is absolutely brilliant. Her passion and enthusiasm shines through, both in her work to enhance the student experience as well as the engagement activity that she is driving forward.

"At a time when we need to be doing all we can to inspire future generations into science and technology, the commitment from excellent scientists like Haley is vitally important."

Two Cardiff University staff members have each been shortlisted for an Inspire Wales Award, which aims to recognise those who work to make Wales a better place.

Scott McKenzie, Widening Access Officer, has been nominated in the Educator category for his work for the Discovery Project, a programme of events aimed at raising aspirations of young people with Asperger Syndrome and other high functioning autistic spectrum disorders (ASD).

In committing himself to encouraging these young people to go on to higher education and experience student life in a safe and supported environment, he has more than doubled the number of projects offered at Cardiff University to young people on the autistic spectrum.

"After speaking to young people with ASD and their parents, we realised that while there's a lot of support for students when they get to university, actually getting there in the first place is a really big challenge," says Scott.

He added: "New environments can generate a lot of anxiety for young people on the autism spectrum, but it needn't be a barrier to continuing with education. With the right support, students can have the confidence to overcome their worries and go on to become experts in their chosen field, with the ultimate aim of helping them gain a foothold on the career ladder."

Dr Haley Gomez of the School of Physics and Astronomy has been nominated in the Science and Technology category, which focuses on the contribution of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) related activities in manufacturing and industry, academia or the public sector.

Dr Gomez began her academic career as an Astrophysics undergraduate at Cardiff University 17 years ago, where she relished the chance to study subjects she had dreamed about as a young child, such as the physics of black holes and the Big Bang.

Today, as a senior lecturer in Astrophysics herself, she wants to ensure that the impact she has on her students echoes her own student experience: "I hope that I'm the same as the academics who helped me get this far; the ones who listen to students and want to be involved with helping them learn and develop while they're here."

Her desire to help others does not stop at her day job, however. Dr Gomez has also secured funding from the European Commission and the Welsh Government National Science Academy to run two large projects, with a particular focus on astronomy. She added: "I hope to be able to inspire students of all ages and from all backgrounds to follow their dreams in studying and enjoying STEM."

The Inspire Wales Awards, which are provided by the Institute of Welsh Affairs and the Western Mail, will take place at Cardiff City Hall tonight (June 20).

Cardiff University has embarked on a project which reaches out to Welsh primary schools with the aim of inspiring a generation of scientists from areas traditionally underrepresented in higher education.

Funded by the Welsh Government's National Science Academy, the Universe in a Classroom initiative will provide 100 schools from across the country with educational toolkits and training to enable teachers to make teaching astronomy and space sciences to 4-10 year olds effective, engaging and fun.

"Despite the studies which have shown astronomy and space sciences to be among the most popular school subjects for kids around the globe, many teachers and educators don't know when to start bringing these topics into the classroom," said Dr Haley Gomez, an astrophysicist from the University's School of Physics and Astronomy, who leads the initiative with her husband, Dr Edward Gomez from the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network.

She continued: "That's where the hands-on teaching resource 'Universe in a Box' comes in. The kit contains over 40 hands-on activities described in an activity book, as well as the materials and models required to do them.

"We provide the necessary support for primary school teachers by offering training days where they can explore the contents of the kit and activity book. Many of the activities are linked to the national curriculum, so the teachers have training and high-quality resources, giving them confidence when teaching scientific topics they may be unfamiliar with.

"The ultimate aim of the kit is to help teachers instil in children a perspective of their place in the Universe and to engender an enduring curiosity about science subjects. We hope that this curiosity will develop into a passion that will stay with them throughout their lives, maybe even inspiring them to become professional scientists one day."

The kits will be handed out to underserved Welsh primary schools for free during teacher training sessions and school workshops run by Cardiff University undergraduate and postgraduate students. Universe in a Box was developed by Universe Awareness, a project based at Leiden Observatory, Netherlands.

Sarah Eve Roberts, Universe in the Classroom project officer, added: "Universe in the Classroom shares the Universe Awareness ethos of using the beauty and grandeur of the Universe to inspire young children and encourage them to develop an interest in science and technology."

The National Science Academy is a Welsh Government Scheme designed to support STEM education in Wales. Universe Awareness is running a global Kickstarter campaign to bring Universe in a Box to underprivileged communities and train primary school teachers to use it, following the pioneering example at Cardiff University with Universe in the Classroom.

Cosmic inflation evidence

Almost 14 billion years ago, the universe we inhabit burst into existence in an extraordinary event that initiated the Big Bang. In the first fleeting fraction of a second, the universe expanded exponentially, stretching far beyond the view of our best telescopes. All this, of course, was just theory. Cardiff physicists are part of an international team that have turned this scientific theory into scientific fact.

Researchers from the BICEP2 collaboration today announced the first direct evidence for this cosmic inflation. Their data also represent the first images of gravitational waves, or ripples in space-time. These waves have been described as the "first tremors of the Big Bang." Finally, the data confirm a deep connection between quantum mechanics and general relativity.

"Detecting this signal is one of the most important goals in cosmology today. A lot of work by a lot of people has led up to this point," said John Kovac (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics), leader of the BICEP2 collaboration.

Professor Peter Ade of Cardiff University's School of Physics and Astronomy said "Having worked on many ground breaking CMB experiments for the last 30 years it is pleasing to finally confirm the inflationary hypothesis with this detection of B-modes." Dr Rashmi Sudiwala, a senior member of the Cardiff team, contributed to the experiment build and deployment in Antarctica, whilst Dr Carole Tucker contributed to the development and provision of key optical components.

These groundbreaking results came from observations by the BICEP2 telescope of the cosmic microwave background – a faint glow left over from the Big Bang. Tiny fluctuations in this afterglow provide clues to conditions in the early universe. For example, small differences in temperature across the sky show where parts of the universe were denser, eventually condensing into galaxies and galactic clusters.

Since the cosmic microwave background is a form of light, it exhibits all the properties of light, including polarization. On Earth, sunlight is scattered by the atmosphere and becomes polarized, which is why polarized sunglasses help reduce glare. In space, the cosmic microwave background was scattered by electrons and became polarized too.

"Our team hunted for a special type of polarization called 'B-modes,' which represents a twisting or 'curl' pattern in the polarized orientations of the ancient light," said co-leader Jamie Bock (Caltech/JPL).

Gravitational waves squeeze space as they travel, and have a "handedness," much like light waves, and can have left- and right-handed polarizations. It was predicted in the 1970s, by Cardiff University's Leonid Grishchuk, that this squeezing would produce a distinct pattern in the cosmic microwave background.

"The swirly B-mode pattern is a unique signature of gravitational waves because of their handedness. This is the first direct image of gravitational waves across the primordial sky," said co-leader Chao-Lin Kuo (Stanford/SLAC).

The team examined spatial scales on the sky spanning about one to five degrees (two to ten times the width of the full Moon). To do this, they travelled to the South Pole to take advantage of its cold, dry, stable air.

"The South Pole is the closest you can get to space and still be on the ground," said Kovac. "It's one of the driest and clearest locations on Earth, perfect for observing the faint microwaves from the Big Bang."

They were surprised to detect a B-mode polarization signal considerably stronger than many cosmologists expected. The team analyzed their data for more than three years in an effort to rule out any errors. They also considered whether dust in our galaxy could produce the observed pattern, but the data suggest this is highly unlikely.

"This has been like looking for a needle in a haystack, but instead we found a crowbar," said co-leader Clem Pryke (University of Minnesota).

Professor Bangalore Sathyaprakash, a theoretical physicist at Cardiff University, commented that "This result is key to answering some of the biggest questions in cosmology. It provides insights into processes that took place in the early Universe, and just how violent the birth of the Universe was. It's wonderful to see the realisation of the prediction that our esteemed colleague Leonid Grishchuk made back in 1975"

"The next step in the story is to confirm this discovery with the Planck Satellite. The full analysis of the Planck data is currently ongoing, and we hope will be ready for release later this year", concluded Professor Ade.

Read the full story on the Harvard CfA website.