Politics · Research

Day 19: Politics, and starting my Project

My day started very early, as I woke myself up in the middle of the night to watch the second debate for the 2016 US presidential election between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. It is very hard not to assess political debates without favouring a partisan side, but with the way the discourse has been conducted, I also find it rather difficult to keep with my principle of non-partisanship for public discussion. I will always tend to side with objective scientific fact in a political discussion rather than rhetoric or hyperbole. Typically, both sides of a public political argument are laden with mistruth, cherrypicking, or topic avoidance, but the sheer arrogance and blatant lack of respect for fact or nuance from one side in particular is not acceptable. It is incredible that this election has got to where it is now, though sadly it is not surprising given the unacceptable culture of what is at best disrespect and at worst abuse that pervades parts of our society. I think the scariest part of it all for many observers external to the process is what effects we are going to discover in the next decade or beyond that grew from this fiasco.

I went back to sleep after the debate, and woke again to ride into the department. My supervisor, Ben Gripaios had returned and I met him for the first time in person that morning. We discussed where my knowledge was currently at, the activities hosted by the department, possible courses to sit in on to fill gaps in my knowledge, the research I have done already and, in vague terms, the direction to go to narrow down onto a research topic.

After the meeting, I sat down at my computer and spied a bug that had been causing the issues with my plots: Somewhere in my scripts, the code to set up each of the runs had input the incorrect cross section by a small amount. It won’t cause any results to need to be re-run, all it requires is an adjustment of the labelling of the cross sections or dipole moments in each of the models. To perform such a calculation, I need to download all of the results onto my new desktop computer. At present, all of my scripts were stored on my Windows laptop. They were only there temporarily; I no longer have access to the computer I was using in Adelaide. But seeing as there was such a large amount of files that I needed to move, I needed to go home and retrieve my USB from my desk.

On the way, I parked my bike at DAMTP, the Department for Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, and went to explore the rooms where courses were being housed. Whereas on the timetables, they list meeting rooms (e.g. MR2, MR9) in the department such rooms appear as room numbers (e.g. B0.10) making it extremely hard to navigate. I eventually gave up, and rode back into town, to go to my room and pick up my USB.

Whilst out and about, I had more errands to run as well. I went to Maplin, an electronics store, and purchased a new LAN cable. Then I came back to the department, and started copying all of my files across. While waiting, I purchased some of the last few things I thought I might need from Amazon, for example, a bike cover for the wet weather (my dorms don’t have an undercover parking area for bicycles). Being Amazon, I’m expecting them to take a fair time to arrive, which is acceptable since it isn’t urgent.

Eventually, everything was copied over, and I set my script up to download even more results from the server. This code typically takes several hours to run (I could and probably should make it faster), so I left it be, and went home. I had some spaghetti bolognese left over from the previous day, so I heated it up for dinner. In future, I’d like to cook two serves of something on a Saturday, but due to the welcome party that wasn’t possible this weekend. From there, it was a relaxed evening, settling down to a comfortable episode of University Challenge.


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