Friday, 25 May 2007

The Pav

Finally there is a reason to like TCD and Dublin. The Pav(illion) in the summer is like a mini festival experience every warm summer evening (so maybe twice a week or so in the height of June). You get to sit around on the lawn drinking beer out of cans surrounded by hundreds of other young types doing the same. Frequently there is a match on the pitch making it every cricket lovers dream - for everyone else in the world it is still pretty good.

A good student bar is definitely something that Bristol is lacking.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

This Life in Halls

When I originally moved into halls in Bristol, I expected my flatmates to be like my friends back home - I couldn't have been more wrong.

We had a homosexual rude-boy type from Essex, a black basketball-playing girl from Tottenham, a hippy type from Stratford, a rowing public school girl type from Windsor and me, the embittered northerner.

Growing up in Great Grimsby, I hadn't dreamed of this kind of mix.

It's coming towards the end of my time in halls and once again the halls experience has thrown many spin balls in terms of expectations.

This year the mix was as eclectic as ever with Bohemian types from Chicago, hyper-active Belgians, Ugandan actors, tee-total techno-loving Donnegalmen and so on.

Sometimes it just feels like the stuff of late 90s TV dramas.

Monday, 30 April 2007


I should write something for April

Thursday, 29 March 2007


MaxLAB is done and the truth is out. During our trip to Sweden I have no doubt that my supervisor finally knows for sure that I'm not the amazing Uber-student I made myself out to be when I applied for the PhD last October.

It was inevitable that GCSE level chemistry wouldn't last me all throughout my career and so now it's time to bite the bullet and actually try to understand what the periodic table actually means.

My brother has offered me his A-Level chemistry textbook when he finishes with it.

Saturday, 17 March 2007

St Patrick's Dag

It's a weird thing to think I spent my first St. Paddys day since starting at Trinity, in Sweden, possibly the least Irish country in Europe.

Thursday, 15 March 2007

The probe

I was in a basement lab the other day when a sewer probe crashed through the wall, spraying water in all directions. Workmen outside were trying to find out where an open sewer was located and it turned out it was just behind the plaster wall of the Raman spectroscopy room in the SNIAM building. There has always been an evil smell in that lab apparently.

Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Working holiday

The time is 6:30 in the morning which is Danish for 5:30 in the morning and it's coming to the end of a night shift at the MaxLAB facillity where I'm working for the next two weeks. It is tough going, I got misty-eyed earlier – Brian tells me thats part of working late under artificial lights.

On the plus side much of the time is spent waiting for scans to complete so I'll probably write lots of posts, although this will likely be at the cost of coherence.

Essential reading

The recommended text for the MaxLAB trip,

Thursday, 1 March 2007

Presentation skills

Every now and again physics folk are drafted in to do communication skills training. We were encouraged to brainstorm ideas for grabbing the audience's attention early on. The example given was a talk on the burning bush in the Bible where the presenter would set fire to a bundle of twigs. Of course this never happened because of fire regulations but it was the ideas that mattered.

I kid you not, one person in our group who worked with lasers, suggested blinding the audience members with a high power beam. And yet we struggle with public outreach?

Monday, 26 February 2007


The Croke Park showdown is now over and the result is a kick in the teeth for Johnny English in Dublin. Some birthday present.

Still my colleagues have been surprisingly civil about it – Rab the rugby nut hasn't even mentioned it and TD settled for a brief outburst of patriotic chants.

Frankly, I'm suspicious.

Wednesday, 21 February 2007


Being practically perfect in every way means I have a hard time thinking of something to give up for Lent. Normally I turn to a dictionary and pick a random word, however this year I don't have one to hand so I used the Random Word Generator.

For 40 days and 40 nights I am going to give up 'advice'.

This wouldn't be so much of a problem if I were a professor but as a starting postgrad it is going to be tricky. I tried again and got 'sabotage'. This is much more feasible.

Tuesday, 20 February 2007

The Survivors

I feel good to be a scientist because when the second coming arrives, I will survive. Perhaps more obvious with the Bristol physics department - which looks like it was built for invasion - but also evident in the SNIAM building at Trinity, is that us science bods were meant to live to reforge the new age.

Trinity College is surrounded on all four sides by a huge protective wall with the SNIAM sat far from the Main Entrance. I used to think that the Arts Block was the place to fare the coming nuclear winter until I realised that this was the front line protection. The arts students are probably right now unwittingly receiving training as effective cannon fodder.

Just like I'm receiving training on how to use class 4 lasers and radio frequency plasma 'guns' - the invading forces will stand little chance on the killing fields between us and the Arts block. And from here in the postgraduate office on the top floor of the SNIAM the carnage below could be watched with cold, calculating eyes.

I N T R O D U C T I O N - O K ?

God I miss Bristol

I was an undergraduate at Bristol University where I did a Bachelors in Physics with a year abroad.

This is going to be my blog about doing a PhD in science at Trinity. I had such a great time in university but much of the details are lost to me - not because I did loads of drugs or anything, I just can't remember it all. Write it down a voice told me and who can argue with the voices?