Picocon 33: Origins has now happened and the SciFi library has stopped looking like a frantic booklet folding factory. For those who aren’t aware, Picocon is a tiny ComicCon, i.e. a mini ultimate nerd fest organised by ICSF. It included talks from guest authors, silly games, readings and viewings of hilariously terrible content with the chance to bid money to make it stop and destruction of dodgy merchandise with liquid nitrogen and big hammers. The one thing that most certainly didn’t occur was a fish duel and I most definitely did not have salmon stored in my fridge, stinking out the kitchen.
PhysSoc is a free society, which you automatically become a member of by studying physics. It organises many a thing, such tours for students. Many of them are proper trips, which cost the moneys, but a free one came up and I wanted to look at a TOKOMAK.
JET is the Joint European Torus and the largest plasma confinement experiment in the world. It is the predecessor of ITER and DEMO, which should be efficient enough to not only break even, but keep up a self-sustaining fusion reaction (as long as you keep feeding the plasma.)
The idea of creating fusion in our humble non-sun environment has been around for a long time and many of us probably learned about the poor unfortunate who was certain he had achieved cold fusion, although he was measuring background radiation.
Another great trip started off pretty well as the glorious leader, who wasn’t going anyway, fell ill and couldn’t do the shop. While the previous glorious leader dealt with that, three freshers managed to deal with boats. Then people arrived, things happened and we ended up leaving half an hour late anyway. But hey, we tried.
The tall clumsy one, being a pain by nature, needed picking up from Luton, which sucked, but at least we successfully implemented the grab-and-eat-in-bus attitude to food, saving a bit of time. We arrived, tried to create warmth by hoping for it and closing the doors.
Having finally finished the lab cycles, I can talk about them in a much less bitter manner. They are split into three sections and there is a lab guide flying around the internet if you wish to see what actually goes on, but I’ll just go over them briefly through the filter of my opinions.
Measurement and Uncertainty
This isn’t really a lab cycle, just an introduction to the pain of error propagation. It’s an unfortunately useful pain and actually clears up some confusion from A-level. I always asked why we calculated errors in one certain way, when more than one appeared to make sense and heard “because they are all valid, but OCR only accepts this one”.
Working on weekends kills the relaxation aspect that they are associated with, so I’ve adapted to consider Tuesdays and Wednesdays as the weekend. Mainly because they contain clubs, so since I have things to say about them, here’s a general overview of the clubs you should go join.
Juggling and Circus- This used to be just juggling, but I wasn’t around in that era. It now consists of people standing in a room playing with various crap – perfect. There’s a bit of poi, staff, diabolo, uni cycling, rolla bolla joys and balls flying around. Outdoor sessions also involve a slackline, until the guy I borrowed it from remembers that I have it.
Now that I’m a chunk into term 2, I finally understand enough of term 1 to talk about it. This is due to my own stupidity and laziness, not the difficulty of the course, so don’t be put off much. Here’s an overview of what happens in the first bit of 1st year Physics. I’ll include the not-particularly-physicsy bits and everything to do with the year in Europe and Theoretical courses too. If you are reading this because you want to study this stuff, do remember that you may have different lecturers and some of the aspects may change.
The first term contains five lecture course, none of which span the term, though I believe mechanics comes close.
BAH stands for Bad ad Hoc Hypotheses, which is rather self-explanatory and already promising, but the host was a comedian and the improvised key note speaker used paint for his presentation. Perfection. It was a really good laugh and probably the best source of nerdgasms, other than the SciFi library.
The event was spread over two days and consisted of Evolution on Friday and Big Science on Saturday. I was busy on Saturday, leading to increased appreciation of the live stream on Youtube. Speaking of
Evolution: You want to watch this a lot
Big Science: You want to watch this a lot too
If you haven’t seen it, your’e silly.
Back to money. Warning: I’m about to go into detail of how much money I have or don’t have and where it comes from. If this seems boring, that’s because it is, but I need to rant about my own stupidity.
Background setting of sorts: As I’ve mentioned at some point already, I receive no bursaries or grants, the minimum student loan and I live in Beit. Complain complain my own fault for choosing expensive accomodatipon weep weep I know. My parents are also not super-rich; they just have a lot on paper and no-one in Student Finance cares how many people your dog eats for or how much debt you have.
If any of the 2 or 3 people who will read this celebrate Christmas, happy Christmas-was-two-days-ago! 🙂
I spent it in the company of family, family friends and their cat. She’s one of the coolest cats ever; she woke me up with paws and rekindled my need for my own feline creature.
Other than the early drysuit, I got a Totoro t-shirt and a mini gorilla, which sounds random, but was a response to my love for gorillas, which I’ve displayed a lot since visiting Bristol zoo last February. Both were due to the boyfriend, so it’s his own fault, really.
Having lightly hinted at my desire to be dry while everything is water, I successfully ended up with a drysuit for Christmas! Whoop whoop. I already have it, because the smallest size available was a size too large and we wanted to make sure that it didn’t need swapping. It fits a little loose around the legs, but the body is perfect and the ankle can be tightened. Plus, I’m planning to wear my Totoro onesie underneath, so more room is never an issue.
It’s a Typhoon ladies, but has only the back zip, so allows no toilet breaks. It’s also damn expensive, since it’s a good one.