Mice, Satellites and Se(x) Squared

One week left before Christmas holidays! 🙂

Bad things: mice and confusing quantum

The last couple of weeks have been… interesting. To start with the negatives, mice have invaded my house. They have chewed though the sink (!) and broken it, as well as tore up the bin in the bathroom and woken me up in the night with their horrible scratchy mouse feet partying in my bedroom. Our landlord has ordered us some electronic mouse repellers which I am slightly sceptical about so I have ordered in addition a whole host of things designed to get rid of mice.

I would like to do an experiment to see which ones work as they have so many mixed reviews, but the fact they are in my bedroom adds a level of urgency and drives out all thoughts of being a good scientist, so I will be deploying all methods at once!

Student houses in general can be quite depressing—the house we are in this year is theoretically very nice but it is obvious that no one has taken care of it for years and years, and is also literally the dampest place I have been indoors short of a swimming pool. You have to wipe water off the walls, and I’m pretty sure there are moulds on my roof that are unknown to man. Mind you, I do realise that I am in a very lucky position being able to rent any kind of house in London at all, so I am completely thankful for that, and will try not to moan!

In other bad news, Foundations of Quantum has (some [everyone] would say predictably) got completely incomprehensible these past few lectures. Unfortunately, I have no one to blame but myself for taking this course, but will keep telling myself that once I get it, it will be brilliant. I hope…  😛

Good things i: ACP, Satellites & Solar Storm presentations

Now for some more positive stuff!  Advanced Classical Physics is still as mind blowing as ever. When I am revising it over Christmas I promise to write loads of blogs on why it is so cool, and explain where Newton’s laws come from and everything.

I’ve also joined the PR team for an Imperial group who are building a satellite that will be able to detect the position of distress signals to within a metre precision from anywhere on the Earth. Everyone working on the project is a student at Imperial, which is pretty amazing. When their website goes up I will definitely link to it, and tell you more as I find out the details of the design—I am meant to be PRing after all 😛 The deadline for launch is in two years, so I will actually have left Imperial, but will be desperate to come back and see if it has worked!

blog cme
Coronal Mass Ejections! Credit: NASA http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sunearth/news/gallery/CMEs_galore.html#.VIsVXjGsWSo

A couple of weeks ago I had to do a ten minute presentation for the professional skills module this year. I was initially pretty nervous as ten minutes alone talking on one topic seemed like a long time, but as soon as I started writing down ideas I realised it would actually be difficult keeping it less than ten minutes. We could pick any topic we wanted to talk about—the idea was to base it on a long article in Physics World or the Scientific American. I picked this article about the effects of a solar super storm on earth to talk about, because a potential catastrophe always keeps people’s interest!

(You have to be a member of the Institute of Physics to see the article by the way—this is free for Physics students of any age and worth signing up for!)

Anyway, my talk went well in the end I think  🙂 Everyone else had some pretty interesting ideas too—I heard talks on the Physics of Cocktails, how fast could Usain Bolt run, exoplanet detection, the struggle to accurately measure the radius of the proton and a whole lot of other cool things. It was a really fun morning in the end actually.

Good things ii: Science London & The Hobbit

With Science London I helped out at another event recently—this one was again about the science of sex and attraction (I promise I don’t try to only pick events about this) and was held in a very tasteful sex shop in Central London. It was actually a great idea for a science event because it got a whole different audience thinking about some of the scientific research that is going on and how it is carried out. The event was sold out, and had two great speakers—the first talking about a website that she had helped create designed to encourage the use of contraception, and the second talking about the National Sex Survey which was a massive project carried out all across the country.

The most interesting thing about both talks I thought was their focus on the methodologies involved in targeting the website to the audience, as well as the rigour with which the survey had to be carried out—it cost multiple millions of pounds to do, and gave some pretty interesting results. If you want to find out more about it is being included in the Wellcome Trust’s new free exhibition: The Institute of Sexology, which I really really must go and see. 🙂

Ooooh…. Credit: http://www.flickeringmyth.com/2014/11/smaug-strikes-new-poster-hobbit-battle-five-armies.html/hobbit-the-battle-of-the-five-armies-2

Also last night I went to the midnight viewing of the new Hobbit film: battle of the five armies. It is so good! The cinema was practically empty though, so not exactly the massive hype you might expect from a midnight viewing, although there were no adverts… 😛

Christmas soon 😀

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