I’ve finally finally finally finished my last lab report!
Labs this year have not been fun, which is a shame because last year I actually enjoyed them, and felt like I was improving and learning things. Not so much this year.
Oh well—I’ve filled out a very angry feedback form, so with any luck the structure of third year labs might change in the future. And they’re over now! Onwards to Easter, chocolate and revision.
This year I’m feeling a lot calmer about exams in general—not because I feel any more prepared (!) but because revision over Easter is something I’ve been doing for the past five years and is now the most routine of routines. I think I’ll find it more strange after next year with no exams to come in the summer, though I expect it won’t be too hard to adapt!
In the last week of term I made a cake of the LHCb detector, which I thought might coincide with the re-booting of the LHC, but unfortunately as you’ve probably heard they are having some technical problems. The cake was tasty anyway.
Imperial are very involved with the LHCb detector. It’s not what you might think of as the archetypal spherical LHC detector—instead it’s sort of stack of cuboid shaped things. (If you want to find out what each of the cuboid shaped things does, this link might help!)
The b in LHCb stands for beauty—because what you might know of as a bottom quark is sometimes also called a beauty quark (the top quark can also be called the truth quark, making the pair of them truth and beauty). The LHCb detector studies b and anti-b quark decays, in an attempt to find out why there isn’t that much anti-matter around today.
I made the tracks of the particles out of spun sugar. In fact, in the spirit of the food based Masters projects I have applied to, I tried to make them out of edible optical fibres, so I could shine light through them and the light would end up where the particle deposited its energy in the detector, but I couldn’t quite get them clear enough for this to work. I’ll have to try again with liquid glucose, which is apparently a better method.
The solar eclipse in London was also a bit of a non-event—we have a solar eclipse party planned on the roof of Blackett with telescopes and food and everything, but the clouds made it impossible to see anything, which was a shame.
The CubeSat naming competition I posted about from a few weeks ago is going well! I have a shortlist of the names given in, but we are going to get people to vote on them at the Imperial Festival in May. The CubeSat project is also coming along well—the mechanism that turns and rotates the satellite is almost finished and seems to be working really well. Fingers crossed, we should be approaching ESA this summer! Pretty exciting stuff.