Posted by: Megan | January 5, 2011

How long has it been?

Two years can see a lot of changes. Moving, starting a new school, relationships coming and going, haircuts and dyes, a piercing, a new cat, ‘new’ car. But I’m still me, and sometimes still feel the need to talk to the internet. Going emo again I guess.

I think I’d like to be a teacher. I’ve realized that while I find physics research fascinating, at heart I’m not a researcher myself. I enjoy reading about it and discussing it, but not the act of doing research. On the other hand, all the time I was growing up I would make mental notes to myself while in class about what worked well and what didn’t for my teachers. And at the time I would sternly tell myself I was not going to be a teacher. However, since starting graduate school and putting in my time as a TA for introductory labs, I’ve found that teaching is something that not only do I seem to be good at, but I thoroughly enjoy. I love the moments with my students when I find just the right way of explaining a foreign concept to them. The look of dawning comprehension and the realization that I made that possible. I also enjoy the human interaction, which has been lacking in all the research jobs I’ve held to date. And so it happens that I have finally accepted my role in this world, if I can achieve it: teaching. Hopefully I’ll get my wish and be granted a nice tenured position at a college or university teaching the first two semesters of undergraduate physics.

I’ve also been thinking about going to England again, potentially to stay. At this point I’d quite like to get out of the States. I miss the ease of traveling, the public transportation, the accents, the food, everything really. I’m not sure how England and my new desire to be a professor will mesh, especially as I’ve been told that universities in England don’t hire people with masters degrees to teach physics. But we shall see. Perhaps I’ll take a job in the States for a while, build up my experience before attempting to move back across the pond.

I suppose, in reality, these are the truly important things that have changed in my life since I last used this blog. There have been plenty of small changes, lots of experiences that affect who I am today. But what they’ve all added up to can be summed up in the paragraphs above. I haven’t stopped dancing. I haven’t stopped loving physics. Part of me still belongs to England (as I suppose it has since I first started watching British television as a child). I do find that since leaving Case I have a bit of trouble finding the same mix of nerds that always felt like home. It isn’t quite normal out here to spend a Friday night looking at the Wikipedia page explaining the diamond structure or reading papers on pentaquarks and super solid helium. But I manage.

I suppose this has been a long ramble, but it’s been a while and I’m not quite sure what’s important to share.

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Posted by: Megan | October 16, 2008

Senior Project

I picked my senior project and adviser a few weeks ago, and since then have been working at making sense of just what I need to accomplish this year. Essentially, I am designing/building a detector to look for: Laser Beams from Aliens. :D  In science speak this is the Optical Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence (OSETI).

The abstract for my project, if you’d like to know a few more details:

In the last decade OSETI, the Optical Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, has come to be seen as an attractive means of looking for signals from other intelligent lifeforms. The High Energy Astrophysics group is developing a new experiment for Optical SETI that we hope will exceed the performance of previous and current projects. Our approach will be to use a large Fresnel lens and small PMTs which will improve the overall signal-to-noise ratio. To obtain signals and differentiate between potential messages and other light pulses, we will need to build a detector that operates in the nanosecond range. The threshold for this device will need to be tuned so as to cut out background noise and light flashes associated with Cherenkov radiation due to high energy cosmic rays in the atmosphere.

Posted by: Megan | October 4, 2008

Gossos

So I have recently become obsessed with a Catalan band called Gossos. If you have not heard of them….follow this link and take a listen http://www.gossos.cat/

I was introduced to them while in Barcelona. Before and after the workshops we were warmed up/cooled down to their song “Corren”. After that I forgot about them until my friend and host from Barcelona sent me a link to the youtube music video of “Corren”. From that moment – love. Now if only they were sold in the US. :)

Posted by: Megan | September 15, 2008

Plumbing

Right now the faucet in my kitchen is broken. It sprang a leak an hour before a Wine and Cheese party that my room mates and I were hosting for the Physics Dept, two of my current professors, the department chair, and my advisor all showed up. We had a big sign taped to the sink asking everyone not to use it. And of course, maintenance said they wouldn’t come to fix it until at least Monday because a useless faucet isn’t urgent. So we’ve been doing dishes in the bathroom for the last few days.

Today when I got home from classes and remembered I needed to rinse out my cereal bowl from breakfast, and had to take it into the bathroom to do so, I was reminded of another plumbing issue I experienced while visiting my friend Megan in Spain this past spring.

She was living in an apartment with a few other American exchange students in Barcelona. When I arrived she had to show me how to flush the toilet because the mechanism was finicky. In the course of her demonstration, the toilet got stuck. It didn’t matter what we tried – it refused to flush anymore. This was Tuesday night. Wednesday morning she tried to contact her super, but he was gone because it was the week leading up to Easter Sunday, and the students were on break and he wouldn’t be back until the following Monday. At this point neither of us knew the ways of making a toilet flush without pushing the button. We were looking at a week of using her toilet like a port-a-potty, trying not to use it as much as possible. Of course this happened to fall on the worst week of the month for me…joy. Thankfully we spent most of our time out and about and just tried to remember to use the public restroom before heading back for the evening. This went on for several days. That weekend though, we invited a group of people back for a dance party on her nice wooden living room floors – and realised we had to warn everyone about her toilet… It was at this point that one of our new friends informed us that we could make the toilet flush by dumping a bucket of water in the bowl. I’m quite glad NOW that I know this, but it would have been so useful all that week!

Sadly, there is no easy fix like that for a broken seal on the faucet (seriously, water spraying every where whenever we turn it on!), so we’ll have to wait for maintenance before we can use it again.

Posted by: Megan | September 11, 2008

Yay Physics Nerdiness

Hooray! The LHC has been turned on!

This historic event reminds me of the two concepts that first really got me interested in physics – gravitons and black holes. Seriously, how awesome would it be to have a pet baby black hole? Never need another trash can, if you’re ever attacked nothing to worry about just sic Wilbur the Baby Black Hole on the guy. And honestly, gravitons are just the coolest particle that theoretically exists. I’ve been hoping they’ll find it since I was in highschool and first heard about physics. I suppose I could always just get myself the plushy from particle zoo.

On a different topic, tomorrow the man who wrote 2 of my physics text books is visiting my campus. David Griffiths will be eating lunch with the undergrads and giving the weekly Colloquium talk. I might be more excited to meet him and have him sign my book than I was for Christmas last year. *can’t wait till morning*

:-D

Posted by: Megan | September 3, 2008

Senior Year

I figure, by now I have so totally failed at wrapping up the last of my travels, and continuing with this blog, that it really doesn’t matter. So instead, I shall pick up with my life as of right now.

Now: 1 week into my senior year.

Already behind on: reading, homework, studying, hanging out, catching up with friends I haven’t spent time with since December. The new planner is filling up quickly, and I have more To Do lists than I can remember.

Stress Level: relatively high.

Been freaking out a bit about Senior Project, preparing to take the GRE, applying to grad school. Getting some kind of paying job. Finding time to shop for food. I wish we had grocery delivery. Like in England. Order food online, have it delivered to your door.

Missing England – and Brighton in particular – terribly. But then, I knew I would. Wonderful Brits, good public transportation, always amusing fashion faux pas, odd and interesting new foods to try, cream teas with scones, scenic country side. I traded this for high speed internet, professors whose native language is English, AC, peppermint stick ice cream, sunshine, more political talk than I can take. Still deciding how fair a trade that was.

Posted by: Megan | June 17, 2008

the White Cliffs of Dover

A few weeks ago I took a day trip out to Dover with Kate and Rachel. We wanted to see the chalk cliffs which are supposed to be amazing and the castle. From the train station we searched for an information center that would tell us how to get up to the castle – whether we could walk it or would need a bus. They told us to take the bus from the bus garage and we used our map to search around till we found what we thought might be the garage. Along the way we passed a group of the citizens protesting for a new hospital (what do we want? a ‘ospital!, when do we want it? now!), most of them were older, quite a few with canes and some in wheelchairs, so I’d say they probably do need a hospital close by. Once we found the bus station we bought our tickets from the bus driver and made sure we were on the right bus number – but it turned out he was going the other way so we had to get off and wait for another one.

We spent our time in the castle wandering about – it was a pretty big castle. It just so happened that we showed up on a day when they were having a special event. Re-enactors  were all over the place dressed in costumes from all the different periods in the history of Dover castle. Inside the castle were most of the medieval actors, but there was one outside pretending to be the King and making speeches. Also outside they had soldiers from WW1 and WW2, the Napoleonic war, Roman soldiers – all just milling about together, occasionally we could here gunshots. There were stalls set up selling all sorts of things and I bought a bracelet and some fudge.

We also decided to go on the tour of the “Secret War Tunnels”. At various points in its history rulers had decided to dig under the castle into the chalk cliffs to make tunnels for their armies. There are at least 3 levels of tunnels, although one of them is collapsing so we didn’t get to go on that level. They have the tunnels fitted up as though it was still WW2 down there, and they put in recordings of people going about their lives underground on the hospital floor and the barracks floor. The lights even flicker out as though the castle was under attack. After the guided part of the tour they let us wander around the level where they commanded the war from and where they still have some of the equipment, like the precursor to the computer. It fills up a huge room and they told us that today it would all fit on a laptop.

After our tour we walked out to the Admiral’s look out and got some pictures of the cliffs, then since it was windy and we were tired we decided to get the bus back to town. We waited for at least 45 minutes by the bus lane watching people get picked up in cars and in specially hired coaches, but still no sign of the bus. We couldn’t actually see from where we were to the stop where we’d been dropped off because it was around a corner in the hill. Finally, we saw the bus coming around the corner. But. It kept going, it turned right in front of us, and one of the men on the bus who could tell we’d wanted to get on waved at us as it left us behind. Well. Well then. We didn’t feel like waiting an hour for the next bus at some other stop further along. Instead we started walking down the road in the direction the bus took and used our map to find our way. We wound up walking through the not so picturesque parts of town, but got back to the train station eventually. And from there – back to Uni. Sussex.

My pictures from the day can be found here.

Posted by: Megan | May 18, 2008

The next station is: Lewes

Yesterday I went into Lewes with the girls. We hopped on the train around 10 in the morning and got off at the next stop. It was raining like it had no intention of stopping, just what you would expect in England. We wandered around a bit before finding a tea shop. They sat us in the downstairs room, no other customers around, and turned on the Bob Marley music. We spent as long as we could inside before finally paying our bill and heading back into the drizzle to look around town. Either the open air market doesn’t happen every week, or it ran away with the sunshine. Still, the general consensus was that we could easily live in Lewes. It’s a beautiful little town with a nice sized train station and isn’t far from Brighton. We stopped in a pottery shop, a health food shop and the local brewery shop before deciding to get some groceries and head home. This is where I learned that Waitrose carries more American products than Sainsbury’s. I finally found my Bisquick, Naked juice and real frosting :)

Posted by: Megan | May 12, 2008

Ack

I wrote 3000 words in 2 days. That was great. It was hard and my mind went numb, but I did it,and got my first essay out of the way. But now. Now I have my 3500 word essay on the topic I know far less about. I told myself to get at least the first 1500 words today. I’m not sure if I’ll manage. Maybe if I don’t go to bed till really late? I see myself needing my energy drinks in the next few days.

These plus my astronomy homework are all due in 3 days time. Eek! Back to work!!

Posted by: Megan | May 9, 2008

Surprise! I posted again!

So I hope no one was terribly surprised by my inability to keep up with this blog properly.

Let’s see…things I haven’t blogged about yet. I went to France, Italy, came back. Gone through 4 weeks of uneventful classes. Been trying to work on my essays. 3000 words on Disney and Cultural Imperialism. 3500 words on masculinity class and Britishness in British film.

Also, I have come to hate Fridays. Fridays are lab days. Which means 4 hours of my afternoon spent trying to understand a wide array of physics topics well enough to answer concept questions during a mini oral exam. And every other week I have to have followed the lab well enough to turn in all the analysis, error propagation, etc at the end of the four hours. Out of this mess I have to pick one of the topics to do a full report on. I still don’t know where to find the first one I turned in, so I have no idea what my grade is because they don’t post grades online.

Sorry about the lack of posting. Hopefully I’ll keep this updated with my random gibbering on a more regular basis now.

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