Happy last week of Imperial term! Aside from my lab report deadline on Friday, a lab interview and some assessed problems that I almost forgot existed somehow (although we have them every week) the end of term for me has been pretty free of the language exams and hideous coursework deadlines that a lot of my friends have been plagued with.
It’s quite sad to say goodbye to E&M and Sun Stars and Planets, though I am not sure I can say quite the same for Solid State. Next term promises Optics and Particle Physics, both of which I am a little bit hesitant about declaring my love for yet, but hopefully Optics will be a continuation of E&M properties of lenses and things (maybe?) and of course after an Easter of revision I will definitely be up to speed with Quantum Mechanics and Atomic Physics and all the nasty things that are sure to be lurking under the fun sounding surface of Particle Physics…
But enough about compulsory Physics! On Tuesday in SSP we had a guest lecturer from the magnetometer lab at Imperial who was really enthusiastic and inspiring about the details of her job. Magnetometers are devices that detect the strength and orientation of magnetic fields, and the lab designs and makes them for various spacecraft, both for NASA and the ESA. Each one takes years to design and rigorously test for the gruelling conditions that it must survive in in space, for example in extremely radiative or ridiculously cold areas.
It must be sensitive enough to detect minute magnetic fields, but also be held far enough from the rest of the spacecraft that the magnetic fields created by its other equipment can be easily factored out of the results. Once the design has finished, it takes more years for the spacecraft to be put together and the magnetometer with it. Then the optimal time for launch must be waited for, and then come the years of waiting for it to get to its destination. It must be crazy to work on one project for so long, especially with the relatively high chance of something going wrong in take-off or once in space where no one can get to it.
It was also pretty amazing to learn that in the building where I have lectures there are people controlling and building instruments that orbit around Saturn (a mission called Cassini which took the famous picture of Earth as the pale blue dot a few pixels wide seen through Saturn’s rings) and Jupiter (a planned mission looking for possible habitability of Jupiter’s moons).
And that is the end of my Physics news for this term! The end of term has also brought with it my housemate’s Musical Theatre production (The Producers) which was hilarious! The singing and dancing and costumes and everything were very professional, and Oscar went all out with his super-camp character, wearing that full-on leather (but still chest-bared) outfir with style. I would recommend this show to everyone—sadly not from MTSoc at Imperial, because it finished last weekend, but it was so funny I would see it again tomorrow.
Tuesday was Imperial’s RCSU (Royal College of Science Union, which is basically scientists of Imperial) Spring Ball, which was, as usual really fun and in a ‘groovy wonderland’ off Oxford Street. The balls always come with three free drinks, but with my friends knowing most of the RSCU committee, we didn’t pay for anything all night and even ended up giving away drinks vouchers to confused freshers.
The next day was Wednesday (my day off) but I ended up getting up at seven to go to Thorpe Park with some friends at Physics. It’s about an hour-and-a-half tube and bus away from Hammersmith, and so fun I am thinking of upgrading to an annual pass! The queues weren’t as short as we thought they’d be—I think maybe some schools have finished for Easter too, but we still managed to get on a couple of the big popular rides (Swarm and Nemesis Inferno, which were really really worth waiting for) and didn’t miss out on classics like ‘Mr Monkey’s Banana Ride’, which is more fun for four twenty year olds than it sounds.
I think I got two hours sleep between Spring Ball and the Thorpe Park adventure, which made for an interesting bus ride there, but luckily by the time we got on the rides we were all feeling a little less grim.
The best thing about the end of this term though, has been the chance to catch up with people from last year in halls. With everyone dispersed and doing their own thing, it was really nice meeting up for a meal in South Kensington and getting to chat with everyone (well, almost everyone- I think that would be an impossible feat of organisation) like we were all carefree Freshers again! Jacob had even come back from America for his Spring Break to see us.
And so we come to the terrifying Easter holidays of revision (and skiing). Expect the next few posts to be either extremely revision-based or to completely ignore that Physics exists at all in an attempt to procrastinate…