So now that things have settled down into a regular, repeating schedule, I’m switching to weekly updates, only aiming to mention things which deviate from that schedule. For those unaware, I am now in the department 5 days a week, attending some lectures in the morning, working through the middle of the day, maybe some seminars, and maybe some teaching in the afternoon, with dinner in college. Weekends are spent relaxing or playing sport.
So what has happened in the last week? Well, I went to a Gates seminar named “scholar stories”, where current or recent scholars share with a group of other current or new scholars about what they have gotten up to in their lives or their PhD. The stories were intimate and frank, describing how they overcame challenges or adversity. There were three stories shared. The first was about a scholar who had to deal with the consequences of the ethics of their research partway through their PhD, and related issues involving internet privacy. The second described overcoming cultural challenges during fieldwork with remote, indigenous communities. The third was a life story of spirituality, disillusionment and rediscovery.
In world news, the Tour de France route was announced. Overall, I like it; the time trials are sufficiently short and well spaced; putting the second on the final day in Marseilles is a good innovation. This year, they are starting in Düsseldorf, Germany, and travelling to each of the 5 mountain ranges in France. Being in Europe next summer, it all seems so close, so I tentatively booked a room in a small hostel in L’Argentière-la-Bessée, a small town near Briançon in the French Alps, where the final few stages are being hosted. Rooms nearby are already nearly completely booked out, so I have the option to go come July if I decide I want to/I am able to.
Also over the last week, my dipole moment dark matter research has reached it’s conclusion. By Friday, all of my collaborators were happy with the product, so we posted our preprint to the ArXiv to be public on Monday morning: ArXiv:1610.06737. For those who don’t do physics, mathematics or computer science, our fields post our unreviewed articles to a publicly accessible server before we submit them to a journal. That means that research posted there hasn’t gone through its checks and balances. However, information is posted there faster, so physicists tend to read it and not the journals themselves. All of which makes me ponder the relevance of scientific journals in the modern day, but that’s a discussion for another time. So you can go ahead and read what I have done, with the caveat that it may yet change. At the end of the day, it feels bizarre to see an ArXiv page with your name at the front.
Over the weekend, I refereed one game of football, and played another. The first, Trinity Hall vs Cambridge University Korean Society and Trinity Hall, was a little farcical. By the scheduled kick-off, CUKS only had 9 players, and having delayed the start by 10 minutes, they only had 10. So we kicked off with the sides uneven. Barely 5 minutes into the game, a clash of heads left one of the CUKS players with a pair of broken glasses and he had to go off for 10 minutes or so. Eventually he returned, and a little later, the 11th CUKS player arrived, but the damage had already been done; Trinity Hall were already at a 4-0 lead. But into the second half, several Trinity Hall players needed to come off with niggling injuries and another clashed head, so by the end, their injured captain, who wasn’t intending to play, had to come on. To make things worse, one of the Trinity Hall players came on without shinpads. When I demanded he get some, he borrowed some from one of his teammates, but his socks couldn’t hold them in. When he ran for the ball, his shinpads would come flying out. I could have cared more, but the game was almost over, and Trinity Hall were approaching a 9-0 lead.
I also played in a game of Darwin College vs Cambridge Assessment, at Gonville & Caius college (pronounced “keys”). I kept goal for the second half, and wasn’t really challenged. I came on when we were 0-1 down, but thanks to numerous excellent strikes from the edge of the box, we eeked out a 5-1 lead. Only in the last minutes, Cambridge Assessment scored from a corner to give a final score of 5-2.
Finally, an update on teaching. We’ve now come to the second practical for the part IB students. Still electronics, they are now discovering the beauty of op-amps. Teaching the practicals is rather straightforward: most of the time, the problems come down to clearly mis-wired circuits, or problems in concept which I explain over and over to different groups of students. All in all, it’s a bit of fun, but not something I’ll probably take into later years, it can be a it time consuming.