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...the terminally uninteresting update! )I had plans to buy a new microscope but that has become a pipe dream as what I really need is a new laptop. My poor old man that is my iBook G4 has started blacking out again. Obviously the Power Manager needs to be reset, but it isn't falling for the usual tricks anymore. Ah well. It's certainly lasted.


*This is one of those never to be solved mysteries of science. Despite being constantly reminded that science is all about practice, we of studentkind always find there are remarkably few problems given for us to solve and even fewer with any sort of answer to check whether we are right. I suppose it's training like that which separates the weedy and wannabe from the Nobel Prize Winners. Sometimes, I've often wondered if it isn't some kind of cruel torture passed down by generations of scientists - "so you want to be a real scientist, huh?" they seem to be saying, "want to feel the pain of never knowing if what you've spent your life (ok, half an hour) working on will even turn out to be right? Well suck it up, ducks - if we had to suffer, you must too! This is what real science feeeeels like!"

The funny thing is, those of us who want to be lecturers/researchers have already admitted that we will likely be just as bad, if not worse, to our poor descendants in the path of science.
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posted by [personal profile] mmoa_writes at 11:32pm on 16/11/2010 under , ,
I have an awful lot of work to do that I know I need to do and would very much like to do but simply don't want to do.

There are several ways I could go about this:

a) remind myself of the sheer amazingness that is Theoretical Physics and how much I would like to be a part of it.
b) remind myself of all the people who are better than me on my course, all thanks to hard work (and mostly genius, but it's too late to be worrying about that...) and concentrated effort.
c) remind myself of how awful it would be to go back home with a 2:2.

Even as I write this, I realise it should be (a) that's making me reach out for the textbook, but in reality, it's (c) all the way.
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posted by [personal profile] mmoa_writes at 11:20am on 12/10/2010 under , ,
So, at the moment we're doing some experiments to find the dissociation energy of Iodine based on readings of the spectrum. As ever, it took us a while to get going (picked out the computer with a software problem; broke the equipment; listened to the demonstrator, the usual...) but I think now we're pretty much on track and should have a nice set of data by the end of the day.

The only annoying thing is trying to convince the demonstrator that we do know what we're doing. Don't get me wrong, it doesn't help that we made a couple of bad mistakes and had some bad luck with equipment, so I do get why he might think we're a pair of dunderheads who need all th ehelp we can get. Still, it's annoying when he come sin every half hour or so to comment on a rather bizarre set up that took us bloody ages to get that makes just as little sense to us too but seems to work anyway. Even worse when he changes said set up meaning that nothing works when he happens to be observing and results in yet more time wastage as we have to recalibrate the euipment the way we had it to begin with.

*sighs*

And need I add that calibrating involves some very fiddly processes. Slits have to be so wide, lenses have to be rotated just so. The slightest change in any parameter seems to result in chaos. Our experiment sits on a knife's edge and we can only watch in horror when it tips oh-so-terrifyingly-slightly over the edge.

Though that probably means we've done something else wrong, to have an experiment that's apparently so sensitive. Oh bother.

Give me programming/computer modelling any day. You don't have to deal with this crap with virtual experiments.
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... )

Meh. No one said it was easy. Let's hope I actually do well academically.
Mood:: 'and annoyed' and annoyed
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The past week and a half have been full of exciting things. Of Exciting Times and Silly Scams )

But yes, exciting times of the impoverished student. And to think I've got two more years of this to go through. Good thing I've got a blog.
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A nice new review blog for the list: http://kinnareads.wordpress.com/

The placement is great but very tiring. I seem to spend all day making mistakes and working up a sweat merely by staring at a computer screen for hours on end, only to write a line of code that might be around 45% successful *laughs*. Me and the MATLAB compiler, great friends we are not. I thought I found a nifty way of finding motor protein stepping patterns but then the next day I ran the same code and I had an error in the third line.

Interesting times to be sure.

Speaking of review blogs, Newsnight Review is back! Of course they're covering the Edinburgh Festival, which I'm definitely going to go to next year. I found the brief interview between Khorsandi and Tsiolkas (author of 'The Slap') really weird though. There was a bit where they discussed how ethnic minorities reclaim offensive terms (for him as an Australian writer, words such as 'wog') and said how that isn't/doesn't seem to be particularly common in the UK, which just made me wonder which immigrant community they'd been hanging out with, because it certainly didn't sound like any I'd had anything to do with, and that's me the distinctly middle-class second generation Nigerian from South London. Weird.
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So... the first week of my research placement is over!

So far I've had to do thankfully very little programming by myself and have just had get used to MATLAB syntax (so much nicer for the inexperienced than C++) though the most difficult part of it was trying to find the right piece of code amongst all the junk of various Mphys/Masters and PhD projects of the past (and there was so much of it. Running the amount of data we got from the experiment through them all was a nightmare!). In spite of various complaints concerning memory and the lack thereof (which resulted in one of the worst timed crashes I've ever had to put up with), I think I've ended this week at a good place: I have plenty of graphs and just need to do some tutorials with Origin (yet another program to get to grips with. I reckon I should look over Mathematica too just in case) over the weekend so I can get a good fit to the results come Monday.

Last night went was great as well. I was more concerned that the writers we had speaking wouldn't have found it worth their while but they definitely seemed to having a lot of fun talking with each other, meeting their fans and I hope they enjoyed the panel/audience discussion. I know I certainly did. I learned a whole range of things (most fascinatingly about the Ancient Romans. Apparently there's a new idea out there that the villas were agricultural workers housing rather than the senatorial palaces we've usually thought of them as which made the cogs in my inner Steampunker's mind turn rapidly), got to talk about fanfiction (mostly how nice it is to hear a pofessional writer being pro rather than seeing it as some work of the Devil working maliciously to sap the writers' powers) and a bunch of other stuff that will probably get filtered down into a megalong pretentious waffle of an essay.

Did I say I had fun?

EDIT: I've also found my dream laptop which is hella expensive, but, with the project award money I might just be able to get this september instead of next. It's one of those things - life in general is being pretty decent, but it's rather unpleasant how there's always something that's going woeful and it's always the something you care about most. Meh. Could be worse.
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 ...but I've actually got a proper research experience placement with funding and everything!

Whoa.

EDIT: And please don't spoil it by telling me they're a two a penny. I'm in a good place right now.
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posted by [personal profile] mmoa_writes at 04:13pm on 17/05/2010 under , , ,
Two of my favourite physics blogs are 'Backreaction' and 'The Reference Frame'. Both have very very different philosophies and approaches (from blogging to politics and just about everything in between) but are great reads nonetheless and hugely inspiring.

Then, whilst procrastinating from revision, I came across this entry and the sad (and vaguely bemused) times ensued.
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posted by [personal profile] mmoa_writes at 10:44pm on 09/05/2010 under , , ,
 So I was flicking through the latest edition of the New Scientist magazine and came across an article that literally made me heart stop in shock: a sceptical article about the quest for the Theory of Everything.

Amazing no?

Mmoa gets precious about science she doesn't understand... )

 

 In the real world... the Manchester Uni's Gilbert and Sullivan Society has completed its run of 'The Pirates of Penzance'. It was a load of fun but veeery stressful, especially concerning costumes and costumes and, um, costumes. One of our leading members proposed to his long time girlfriend on stage (she said yes) and... well it was all good!
Mmoa-junior: molecular bio-engineer of the future? )

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