I’ve read a lot of popular science books, so I thought I would list some of the ones that I most enjoyed. They are mostly Physics based, but there are a couple that are more general and even one that I promise doesn’t mention Physics at all, so if you are stuck for interesting reading or hate reading but desperately need something to put on your personal statement, some of these could be useful!
What is life?
This book is actually a recording of a series of public lectures that Schrodinger gave in the early 1940s. It might seem like a strange book for him to have published, because he was a physicist not a biologist, most famous for his thought experiment about a quantum cat in a box.
So a few days ago I began anatomy of the thorax…i.e. I took a trip up to the 14th floor and met the body my group would be working with for the next few weeks. It was incredible.
I have so much respect for people that donate their bodies to science and even after just one session I can see how useful it really is to have the opportunity to see. I was terrified though. Genuinely so nervous to have the responsibility of someone’s body in my hands only a term and a bit into my degree. However, it was incredible.
Only one more experiment to go this year and I am hopefully getting a lab partner again! I said I would tell you my final value of e so here goes: (1.93 ± 0.13) x10^-19C, within which you may notice, the currently accepted value does not fall. Oh well. Hurray for unknown sources of systematic error (potentially the oil droplets acting as a dielectric in the capacitor and changing the value of E?). My estimates of the Earth’s magnetic field were better I promise…
Now that that’s over it’s party time! And by party I mean making use of South Kensington’s proximity to sushi, Nutella pancakes and dinosaurs.
Now that I’ve finished my biochemistry and microbiology course, I’m no longer performing endless protein assays which require so much pipetting that you leave the lab with your hand seized up in to a crab claw because you’ve been holding a Gilson for two and a half hours. If you study biology, you will no doubt make acquaintances with Gilsons fairly early on in the year. This, my friends, is a Gilson pipette.
They come in a few different sizes and use very fine pipette tips to measure very small amounts of liquid (usually less than a millilitre). They have a dial on the top which you have to turn to set the volume you want to draw up and you have to depress the plunger before you put the tip into the liquid and then release it or you end up sucking stuff in to the barrel.
Sorry I’ve gone so long without writing–I’d descended feetfirst into the rollercoaster of emotions that constitutes exams season. Just kidding, your emotions don’t really rocket around during exam week. You won’t have emotions. Everything you hold dear will melt, slosh around, and consolidate into a little ball of stress ricocheting around your head. Embrace this–this is good! Stress has been empirically proven to be more dense than airy emotional baggage. It’ll leave space in your head for an extra biochemical pathway. Take your pick: lipid beta oxidation? Reductive biosynthesis? Amino acid catabolism?
We have been getting results back from our formative exams/tasks over the past couple of weeks and I recently received this question:
“Dear Mala, I heard that every first year medic fails January exams at Imperial. Is this true because I don’t want to fail. Do first year medics even do any work?”
In short…the pass rate was around 58% in our year. For those of you that don’t know, formatives are basically “mock” tests that we have to gauge how well we are doing so far. They are supposed to give everyone a metaphorical ‘kick up the aorta’ and thus work harder.
Time seems to have flown by. It’s kind of strange to think that I’ve been back at uni for three weeks and I still haven’t started lectures… Due to the generous amount of study leave I’ve had, I’ve pretty much been sat at my desk for the past two and a half weeks trying to learn the order in which primates evolved and get my head around Michaelis-Menten kinetics. I can’t lie, I haven’t massively enjoyed my courses so far this academic year and it’s been tough. BUT exams are finally over and on Monday I’m starting my favourite thing ever, the main reason why I chose this subject… cell biology and genetics.
The last week has been fun—one of my friends from home came down on Tuesday and we went to see Taylor Swift in the O2! One of the best things about living in London is that you don’t have to force people to come and see you—they come themselves for the attractions and then can sleep on your floor. Taylor, as I now affectionately call her, was brilliant—a very professional performer and though she did talk some rubbish in between her music and dancing she was so compelling about it that I was completely swept along.
Tubing there was easy—straight from labs to North Greenwich tube station, but unfortunately by the time we were heading home the infamous tube strike of last Tuesday/Wednesday had begun so we and a million other confused pop fans were stranded at the O2.
There have been a few phrases that I have adopted since coming to University and they have been detrimental to my bank account balance and lifestyle choices. ‘I am treating myself‘ or ‘I deserve this’ have been absolutely awful. When I walk into Sainsbury’s and see a large Lindt bar on the shelf calling my name I manage to convince myself I need or deserve a treat…which is never, ever the case.
Another great phrase is ‘you’re only a fresher once’. Because…it’s true. It is an excuse to do pretty much anything ridiculous as you have the excuse that it is all part of a ‘fresher experience’.
I just realised I haven’t told you anything about my lectures this term! So much for this being an informative and insightful blog about life at Imperial…
We are now almost three weeks in, and the structure of the term is starting to reveal itself. Firstly I have Wednesdays and Friday mornings off, which makes my week very on-off intense, with nine ‘til six on a Monday and nine ‘til five on a Tuesday and then a day of pure pure rest. I have fewer lecture courses than last term to add to the relaxation—Sun, Stars and Planets, Electromagnetism and Atomic Physics, which you should read as interesting, awesome and evil respectively.