Half way through first term!

I’m not really sure where to begin with what is going on at the moment so I’m just going to make a list.

I was deliberating whether I should blog about the more negative aspects of this term at all, but I think I will, because it wouldn’t be fair to pretend like everything’s always marvellous at Imperial!

Actually I’ll make two lists: good things and bad things.

Bad things about this term

-I’ve decided to drop quantum field theory even though it’s one of the courses I have been really excited about studying ever since first year. It is heavily linked to another course that I don’t have enough space to take for a start, I find the lecturer very confusing, and it seems like we won’t actually get to do any of the interesting features of quantum field theory and will just end up deriving very basic results. At this point it just seems better to take an easier course and get out a couple of books on this topic.

I guess this wouldn’t be as bad if I hadn’t attended half the lectures before I decided this! Be warned anyone at Imperial who is thinking about taking this course without also taking Unification or who doesn’t definitely want to go on to study quantum field stuff.

-Although I was initially quite optimistic about Research Interfaces (the business course) it is now turning out more how I feared. The main problem is that it is really hard to think of a completely original invention/idea that can make money—everything you think of has already been done by someone or the idea has been patented or someone has done something similar!

Also something about phrases like ‘you’ve got to become the de facto standard in the market as quickly as possible’ still make me cringe. I really don’t feel like I do have to, actually.

This isn’t a problem for anyone in younger years by the way—they are restructuring the course and putting it into third year which makes so much more sense, as most of the people who want to go into business type things don’t stay on for the Masters anyway. I don’t know if it will be better—you’ll have to look at a younger physicist’s blog!

-The main problem at the moment however is still my Master’s project. I am finding it very hard to communicate with my supervisors and the meetings we have had so far have made me very upset.

This is a large problem, both because my project is worth a big proportion of my degree mark, but mainly because the reason I am at Imperial this year is to do this project, find out if I want to do research and to continue learning and enjoying physics. At the moment, none of this is happening and it has been a very difficult term so far.

I don’t want to go into too much more detail—I’ve spoken to my tutor as well as the head of projects and hopefully things are going to move in the right direction from now on.

Now on to the good things list!

– I have been elected year representative for my year!

This means that I am now in charge of helping to deal with people’s academic problems and generally making sure student concerns are passed on to the staff. It also means I get to go to all sorts of meetings, which has been an interesting insight into how the department is run and the network of people who are there to support the undergraduates. It was a surprise to me that most of these people exist to be honest, so I will definitely mention in a blog the structure of behind-the-scenes people at physics who we are all meant to know about if we need them. (Once I’ve figured it out who is who myself!)

I’ve also been to a training session in the union which was again interesting to find out more about the college-wide structure of reps.

– General Relativity is the best course ever.

If you are do physics and get a chance to be lectured by Professor Fay Dowker do it. She is an amazing lecturer. Also this general relativity course is exactly what I would put in my ideal physics degree—it is full of statements like ‘this star is closer to you than breakfast’ and it messes up how you see the universe. It also has a lot of really rigorous maths in. Take this course— or at least go to the first couple of lectures and just bask in the joy of how good a lecturer and decent a person Prof. Dowker is.

– My grandparents came down to see me in London for the first time!

– My flat is 999999999 times better this year than last year. (No rats for a start.)

-Imperial Gym is still great, and free and their exercise classes are like £3.


fireworksToday is also the last day you can send a postcard to George Osbourne through the campaign Science is Vital to explain why he shouldn’t cut science funding.

I feel a bit better for having now written down a bit about the difficulties of this term. Now that this is over with, I hope I can get down to writing more interesting things like about why a star is closer to you than breakfast, what I’ve got out of being an Independent Visitor, and the Science is Vital campaign and things.

I hope everyone else’s term is going better than mine!

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