Happy Birthday General Relativity!

Last week it was exactly 100 years since Einstein officially presented his theory of general relativity. I’m studying course on it at the moment, and was so excited to go along to Imperial’s celebration of the event which Stephen Hawking was meant to be speaking at. Unfortunately he had to cancel at the last minute due to an illness, but there were other great speakers, including my lecturer Prof. Dowker who I’ve raved about before!

Here is the link to the recording of the event if you would like to watch it.

You’ll probably have seen articles about General Relativity everywhere last week, but this is one of my favourites by the author of the geeky web-comic xkcd. He uses the ten thousand most commonly spoken words to explain the theory and its history—here is the link to the article in the New Yorker.ty

I completely want to join in and write a bit about GR as well, but unfortunately I’m still halfway through the course and am still a few Christoffel symbols away from having a clue what’s going on! I’ll have to save that blog for when I’ve revised the course.

In other news the science budget wasn’t as completely demolished in the spending review as it could have been, which is better news than a lot of people were expecting. If you want to read more about that, here is a link to the Science Is Vital update page, a group that had been campaigning to stop the cuts to science funding.

Last week I was also part of a panel in a ‘town hall’ style meeting at Imperial with various members of staff and the other year reps to answer people’s questions. About 20 people came from years 3&4, who the meeting was for.

It was actually a pretty useful and interesting meeting. Some of the student’s questions were antagonistic (in some cases rightly so) and the staff reacted really calmly and well in response. I think it’s easy to feel like no one cares about your concerns at Imperial—we are such a big department for a start, however despite the many layers of bureaucracy and the difficulty in making changes, most of the staff do actually try to do what is best for the students and listen to them. Coming along to something like this, where anyone is invited to ask questions is a great chance to get to know who you can go to get your academic problems and injustices sorted out, even if you just sit at the back and feel reassured that some people in the department are trying to improve things.

tom watson haha

On a completely different note, last night I went to a drinks reception in the houses of parliament as part of Scientists for Labour, which is a society associated with Labour who I have done a bit of blogging for in the past.

We got to have a bit of a snoop round the houses of parliament and see a House of Commons debate. We also confidently tried to make our way back to the entrance without our escort and got very very lost, ending up in a sort of boiler turret, passing by some really cool rooms, but which was a bit unnerving considering there were so many armed police about!

The reception was for all the Socialist Societies, which are societies affiliated with Labour. There were drinks and canapes Tom Watson as well as some Labour people from the House of Lords and it was fun.

I’m pretty new to it all, and certainly didn’t know as much about Scientists for Labour as my friend who I had gone with, so to start with I felt pretty nervous when people introduced themselves and started asking questions about the details of the society! However, the people were all really nice, coming from many interesting backgrounds, and I ended up having a good time them about their own societies and work. It turned out to be accidentally a pretty good ‘networking’ event for me in the end, just because I had a chance to show my genuine interest, and I’ve even got some offers of work experience from people, as well as the details of some new societies to get involved with.

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