Tag Archives: revision


So I’m roughly half-way through the exam season, five down, four to go.

Some of them have gone well, others not so well, others were going well until I found myself running out of time, started panicing and ignored the obvious answer…

Anyways, all in all, it’s been pretty miserable so far, and it really doesn’t do wonders for morale. I really just want this to be over, because this whole experience is just making me feel like crap, and I’m pretty damned sick of it.

Right now, I’m supposed to be revising Plasma Physics, because the exam’s tomorrow and for the life of me I have no idea what he’s doing using the Bennett relation to derive the Pease-Braginskii current, and I really need this exam to go well. For a whole bunch of reasons.

At least there’s only 4 left! Plasma I think is generally going to go well, then on Friday there’s Comprehensive II, the sequel to the exam that made us all want to commit suicide the first time around, Dynamical Systems & Chaos on Tuesday, which could be pretty unpleasant, and then Foundations of Quantum Mechanics on Thursday which I think will be pretty good too, so should form a pleasant wind-down. Hopefully.

I’m really not looking forward to results day.

Anyways, back to the physics of the Z-pinch…

The Library Café

Ah, what an establishment. Open late, on campus, easily competitive with anywhere to eat in the near vicinity…

All you need to get coffee (a must for any long-term revision session) and food is a short trip downstairs from the library proper, and all (well, most of) your bodily needs will be satisfied. The food’s also actually not bad – I’m quite impressed with the pepperoni pizza.

It’s also great in non-revision times, ’cause it’s pretty much the only place you’re allowed to eat and drink while sat  at a computer. There are also booths each with a big flatscreen on the wall, which I’m sure will be excellent for working on things like projects next year. Mostly so far I’ve only used one for playing the Wikipedia game; the aim of which is to challenge your opponent to navigate from one Wikipedia page to another e.g. Beef Wellington -> World War I by following links. That one is actually pretty easy. Answers on a postcard.

Anyways, I ought to hit more revision. I still don’t know enough about Nuclear and Particle physics, sadly.

The Hard Slog Ahead

Once again I’ve managed to forget that this blog isn’t just to write articles about stuff, it’s also just to write vaguely long-form about where I’m at, and where I’ve been. So, here goes.

Since we last met, I attended the Fairtrade Society AGM, at which I failed to get elected as treasurer. I still believe in the cause, though, so I’m actually changing my buying decisions where there is a Fairtrade alternative. Which is actually kinda peculiar! There was also the Fencing annual dinner, proceeded by the shaving of the president, which was pretty funny. Some people weren’t too gentle with the clippers.

Namih gets shaved

The deadline for MSci project bids rolled in, and with any luck my project will be on using a tree code to simulate plasmas in which collisional effects between particles can’t be neglected (e.g. in a very high density plasma) and provides an O(N log N) computation time as opposed to O(N^2) for naive particle-particle interactions. If you didn’t understand what I just said, never mind.

Coming up, my exams start on May 18th, so I basically have to start hitting the revision really hard and cram a whole bunch of knowledge into my head over the next few weeks. It’s going to be quite a ride. Next term there aren’t really any lectures apart from a single revision lecture for each course, so it’s a straight run-up to the exams, and then we’re pretty much free after that. We have to start preparing for a literature review for the MSci project, which I assume translates as “Raid all the books from the library that are relevant to your project, and then read them”.

My family’s going to come up for a day, and we’re going to see We Will Rock You, so that should be an interesting diversion. I should also be Fencing every Wednesday, so that should keep me active.

Then, once that kerfuffle is all over, there’s the Summer Ball, which should be an awesome wind-down to the year. I honestly can’t believe we’re already at this point again. The rapidity of it all is kinda scary, as are some of the implications of this year being over, like a bunch of my friends finishing their degrees. It’s gonna be weird.

Musings on Science, and other things

I’m in the library, revising for my electromagnetism exam by reading some of the Feynman lectures on physics. He presents the material in a clear, accessible, and interesting way, and it’s a real joy to read. He also goes off on some great tangents to relate the basic material to more complex unsolved problems in Physics, and it’s really, really interesting. He addresses all the issues you have as an undergraduate – should I have a mental model of what’s going on, is this treatment accurate, and provides tips and tricks for solving various problems.

This got me to thinking in general of how easy it is for your enthusiasm for something to be crushed by the process of actually having to study it – sometimes you read about things the great scientists of the past discovered and you wonder how they could bring themselves to work on anything quite so dull!

Makes me wonder if perhaps we get our knowledge too easy; the things which were the life’s work of some of our greatest minds, taught in a lazy afternoon.

Obliquely, this led me on to thinking about Lost. I’ve just seen the 4th season finale, so it’s on my mind, but I’m going to avoid spoilers here! I realised they’d got their characterisations of the characters completely and utterly wrong!

Jack is the man of faith, and Locke is the man of science! Jack believes so thoroughly in “reason” that he totally ignores the things he can see with his own two eyes – like giant columns of black smoke that can kill people. Locke has the use of his legs restored, and immediately comes to the conclusion that something awfully odd is going on. Locke’s attitude is clearly the more scientific. The writers obviously have no idea what they’re talking about.

This could be just because I’m feeling a tad hostile towards them right now – anyone who’s seen the finale can probably guess why!

Interim Update

So revision is proceeding more or less on track. Things which I thought were scary now appear less so! It’s good. Haven’t really got a lot to write about right now, but I’m trying out a little experiment in microblogging, using Twitter.

You can see my Twitter stream here, the RSS feed of it here, as my status on Facebook (that’s automatic, how awesome is that?), or on the sidebar of my blog homepage.

I’m hoping to post updates slightly more regularly than I would here, as there isn’t the burden of feeling like I have to write a whole post. Also, I can write updates by sending a text from my phone if something really cool happens, which is tremendously awesome.

Exams start on the 28th. It’s all downhill from here!

Update: Doing a trial of using Disqus comments. This may/may not go well.

Revision is pretty much the worst thing ever.

I really, really dislike revision. It’s not so bad when it’s something that’s reasonably interesting, like Quantum Mechanics or something, but trying to bludgeon my brain into learning Thermodynamics in this kind of heat is frankly just horrific and painful, and I want it to go away and leave me alone.

My exams are:

  • Thermodynamics & Statistical Physics
  • Quantum Mechanics
  • Applications of Quantum Mechanics & Electrons in Solids
  • Fourier Methods, Differential Equations, & Statistics of Meausurement
  • Mathematical Methods
  • Electromagnetism & Optics

I’ve done one past paper each for the first two, and overall I’m fairly confident, although there are some pretty major gaps in my Thermodynamic knowledge (how do you work out entropy change again?!), which I’m desperately trying to plug. I’ve done some revision in the other areas too, so I’m feeling fairly alright with differential equations, and statistics is just a retread of A Level stats anyway, for the most part.

First exam is on the 28th, so things are moving on.

Went camping last weekend, may or may not do a writeup on that at some point, possibly when I run out of ways to continue procrastinating. Should have struck while the iron was hot.