Happy January!

To start with, here is a picture of a strange quark holding a glass of champagne:

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This is my second week back at Imperial after Christmas, and this term is looking set to be a brilliant one. For a start, I have only one lecture course this term, as all my options happened to be last term. This lecture course is called ‘Physics of the Universe’ and is about particle physics and astroparticle physics, and the lecturer is a completely inspiring man who literally flies out from CERN to teach us, and who you can just tell absolutely adores his job.

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(The picture is a note I made in my lecture 😛 I think it’s a pretty accurate analogy…)

Particle Physics is an incredibly fun topic to study too, as even things you think might be boring like centre of mass energies, for example, turn into amazing things like ‘this energy is our time machine, and the faster we can wham these particles together, the closer we get to witnessing the dawn of our universe’. You can tell it’s an interesting subject when people feel compelled to say ‘our time machine’ and ‘the higher energies we can get’ like this is so important that it is a knowledge and theory that belongs to us all, even when we don’t really have the faintest idea of what is going on.

I still have comprehensive tutorials and labs this term too. A lot of labs actually—ten hours a week—I think we only had six in second year. I’ve actually missed lab work—the experiment we are doing at the moment is the famous photoelectric effect, which you will probably know like the back of your hand if you are doing A Level Physics. However, because the photocell we are using to detect our photocurrent (a load of electrons being pinged off a metal by light) is so dodgy, the whole point of our experiment seems to be: how are we dealing with the essentially bad equipment?

That makes it pretty open ended and interesting, so well done Imperial you have managed to turn terribly inaccurate lab gear to your advantage!

Now for the science baking section of the blog…

Here is a picture of some sailing ships on Titan cookies that I made:

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(They are sugar cookies—if you have never made them before they are the best for holding their shape after baking, and are quite tasty too :P) If you’re wondering, the small round one in the front is meant to be the buoy mission that was proposed to float on the lakes, the sailing ships are what I imagine by ‘sailing on Titan’ (which might actually be possible due to the possible wind speed and composition of the atmosphere,  the ones with balloons attached in the back are more buoys being let down from space. And the alien is the alien.

Putting a boat on Titan (one of the moons of Saturn) which has lakes of hydrocarbons and potentially underground/underice lakes of actual water(mixed with ammonia so it can be liquid at really low temperatures because chemistry) is one of my all-time favourite ideas for a space mission. It was actually proposed by NASA at some point but other projects were chosen instead.

Here is a really good article about what kinds of sailing would be available on Titan, or here is a limerick on it if you would rather read about space missions in silly poetry:

There once was a sailor on Titan

That the lakes did excessively frighten:

‘It is such a shame they are made of Methane,

And the land far too cold to alight on.’

That isn’t even the end of science baking news though! With Science London I am helping to organise a science bake off! It is an event for science week (organised by the British Science Festival) later on this year, and the idea is to get people to come along and bring a cake decorated with their best science to be judged by some scientists and cake experts. I really want to enter too!

There will also be a make your own bacteria cupcake area, and maybe a talk about the science of food, which is something I am already so excited about. Science. And cakes. What is not to like?

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