Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Interviews, running and mugs

I went to Leeds the other day for some PhD-y interviews. Now, I'd not had an interview since my Cambridge one ooooo 4 years ago, where I cried the during the entire meal my mum took me for afterwards and for the two hour journey home. I also seem to remember having 2 bottles of cider when I got home and feeling much better. But anyway, the old fear was re-awoken like some sort of subterranean troll being poked by a hobbit upon receiving this:

So three hours of interviews with four different professors, all of whom completely kick ass in their field? Oh sweet badgering Christ, I was screwed.

So, train tickets booked, thermos flask full of life-giving (i.e. fucking strong) coffee packed but no Leatherman multitool this time (I didn't deem it appropriate), I headed up norf to almost certain doom and intellectual embarassment.

I had a nervous start:
  Over lunch it transpired that they were all mathematicians from Cambridge in a previous life, so they all told me how hard all my exams were going to be. Thanks guys.
Also, free lunch ftw!
Maths-free introduction to the solar dynamo here if you're interested. 
Although our sun is incredibly run-of-the-mill in the the universe, it is still does some FUCKING COOL STUFF. The magnetic fields churning away under the surface cause all manner of interesting things to happen, the most impressive of which are things called "coronal mass ejections ", i.e. the sun kicks out a tonne of stuff into space.Video-ness! (Sorry for lack of dramatic music/explosion sounds :-<)

Here's a picture of a (quite small) mass ejection with the earth next to it for scale.
 Or, as I like to think of it:
If one of these things is coming towards earth, at this point you should thank your lucky stars (geddit?!?!) that the earth has a magnetic field too to deflect the bugger:
This is where the aurora comes from btw.

Anyway, the interviews went on. (Heck, I'm good at getting side-tracked.)

So the core of the earth is a solid sphere of iron right. New theory out is that it's continually melting on one side and crystalising on the other, with the effect that it's continually moving sideways. Now it might just be me (it probably is and no one is reading at this point), but I think that's pretty cool.

The winds on Jupiter are interesting too - you know how Jupiter is really stripey? Well each different colour stripe is a channel of wind going in alternate directions - completely different to the winds we have on earth (can you imagine sailing in wind that just kept changing its direction by 180°?).  So I actually enjoyed myself and didn't have to have a little cry on the train home, which was nice. Woo!


Not even a little bit more?


Sorry guys, got a little carried away there...

In other news, I made the grave mistake of going on a run with two lightweights who were (a) obviously much lighter than my fat self, (b) fitter than me and (c) much better at running than me. For a 10 miles. I shit you not when I say my heart rate was above 180 for a good hour. There were patches where I couldn't get it below 190. On what was supposed to be a nice UT2 run. Oh dear lord.

Yes, I was in a very un-fun place.

I eventually said when we had about 40mins to go, in what sounded brilliantly poignant and dramatic in my head (but what was probably just a lot of incomprehensible wheezing in real life), "Just go on without me!".

And they did, thank God.

I walked around Coton for a bit convinced I was going to die then manned up and a third ran, third walked and third limped home. In my defence I was a little bit ill (and not in my defence I knew 10 miles was too far but I just said "Oh, it'll be FINE" in stereotypical me fashion). I had spent most of Christmas sounding like the gingerbread man from Shrek (and I really did!) and still haven't really got over it.

I don't know why, but since I've stop training an insane amount my body seems to have become über pathetic and exceptionally prone to breaking.
Anyway, the thing is when you try and swear at your siblings for laughing at you because you sound like the gingerbread man from Shrek, you only make it worse.
 It's a downward spiral, which will only lead to your siblings having tears streaming down their faces with how much a of twat you sound like while you look for something to throw at them.

A life lesson there people. If you've lost your voice, don't go on sweary rants because you'll sound ridiculous.

Finally, I need some help. I foolishly have brought a bunch of these.

 Quite a lot of them in fact...
Oh fuck. That's quite a lot of mugs isn't it?
Basically, I few people wanted them, but the ones on Zazzle I did turned out to be something ridiculous like £18 each with postage and I thought that was fucking stupid. But now my room is full of mugs and I need to get rid of them.
Nothing says insanity like a very small room fulled with lots and lots of the same thing.

So, I do hate to sound like a massive douche trying to sell you stuff all the time, BUT MY ROOM IS FULL OF MUGS and they are pretty cool anyway. And £7 is pretty bargainous. I also made you a flowchart. Because I like flowcharts. And I'm a mathmo and FLOWCHARTS ARE FUN. And why just say "Hey, if you want a mug, drop me an email", when you can do a flow chart to say the same thing!

P.S. I will try and learn how to write less long and windy blog posts one day, sorry.


  1. Noooo, don't write shorter posts! They are great! :-D
    And sorry, I don't want a mug, I'm afraid I don't like tea :-P

  2. @Jenna: You don't like tea? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!?!


  3. I drink coffee....LOTS of coffee :-)

  4. Fair play! You're forgiven :-) I should do a coffee version. Maybe me just shouting "DRINK MORE COFFEE" or something :-)

  5. That feeling pathetic bit is very true! I had to take a few weeks off with a intercostal muscle tear, and in that time where I wasn't training everything else just started aching and generally hurting all the time for no good reason.

    How do normal people cope?!

    How much do you reckon postage will be for one of those mugs?

  6. And oh the blisters from taking a couple of months off. It's like being a novice again.


    RE postage - I think it'll be about £3-4. They apparently weight about 300g each on my slightly dodgy kitchen scales, so with a load of packaging...?

  7. I enjoyed this post - more science always welcome! Astrophysics is awesome, except I don't think I could cope with the maths. Popular science ftw :p

  8. Cheers Jon! Don't you worry, there's more Science on the way :-)