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April 19, 2006

Onwards and… Which way?

I was reading on Wikipedia the other day about someone called Peter Singer. Among various other things was his belief about the poorest people in the world. His argument goes along the lines of: It's immoral for us to go out and buy expensive unnecessary things and generally live life like we do when we know of the suffering due to poverty that is going on and could give some of that money to them.

In general, I completely agree with this principal. I hate the way half our world is in such a bad state when we quite evidently have the technology and ability to deal with it. It's pretty despicable the way we look on 'ourselves' as just those in our country or culture and consider people suffering around the world to be alien to that and not our responsibility.

Of course, it's a nice idea, but am I going to suddenly abandon my life and dissappear off around the world to help them? No, probably not. I can't pretend to be able to justify this but I can say I believe I can make a bigger difference in the long run doing research, especially in fusion. Now that brings me around to another point: if the most advanced countries stopping advancing and spent their time bringing the rest of the world up to our level we wouldn't be moving the human race on as a whole, in understanding and in technology etc. I was talking about this with someone the other day and their response to this was to question whether advancing in technology and knowledge is neccessarily 'forwards' for the human race. With all the stresses and troubles of our modern and supposedly more comfortable lives, are we really better off than those who spend their lives with nothing to worry about but finding dinner?

Personally I've always believed it's important to improve our understanding of the world around us and this is probably what's taking me into physics. This also isn't likely to change but I've never given it a second thought before and now find myself wondering exactly why I believe this. I guess its natural to want your life to be about something, to have some point and maybe this is just the best way I have of getting there given that I have no religious beliefs and don't believe in any form of afterlife. However, I did spend a brief period in the middle of the Exmoor forest when I was little just fishing and helping my dad recover firewood to heat his little cottage and I can see the appeal of that kind of lifestyle. Also I think part of why I enjoy gliding is that it gets me away from computers and all the associated hassle. On the other hand I wouldn't have the experience of and ability to fly if it weren't for the (1920s) technology of the gliding itself.

Are we better off with advancing technology and so called 'quality of life' or would we be better off if everyone was happy just living?

April 06, 2006


Well that was annoying.

I have been tryng to sort out this PhD at JET recently. Yesterday morning I had an email basically saying I was being offered the place I want as it had been agreed by the university and just needed the paperwork going through. I also got an E-mail from Warwick asking if I could come to an interview today.

Obviously I didn't really want to get grilled in an interview if I was being offered the JET PhD which I really wanted so I asked if it was being offered for certain. Imperial said they wouldn't say for definate until some time this afternoon, so I went to the warwick interview anyway. It wasn't too bad. The first question was to write down Maxwell's equations which is really easy. They then asked me to derive the wave equations from them, which was tricker but I remebered it more or less.

As I left I wandered into the computer room, checked my e-mail and found the message from Imperial with the official JET offer. Later this afternoon I got an offer from Warwick. So I now have a choice of PhDs – nice, but rather pointless.

October 08, 2005

A day of nothing

Well, that was a succesfull day of avoiding doing any work.

I got up at 10 thinking I would make an effot to start reading stuff on my 4th yr project. By 18:00 I had done the following:to:
Finished fixing my printer
Read lots of blogs
Watched some scrubs
Fixed the gliding club's internal database
Wrote a rant about warwick sport (see below)
Watched an episode of Lost
and helped my borther fix my dad's computer back in devon.

At this point I managed to get the books down from the shelf and had just started reading when I got an MSN message. So I spent parts of the evening (interspaced with eating and such) fixing the computer of a friend I havn't seen since the first year. As is always the case with computers it took a lot more effot than expected but she gave me plenty of tea and biscuits to help and I got to find out how and what everyone on my hall in the first year is doing now.

The net effect is that I have read a single page of a book, hmmm. I forgot how hard motivation at the start of a project like this is. The funny thing is that working over the summer, despite being nearly 8 hours per day was relativly easy. There is something about student life that makes doing a realtivly small number of hours work disproportionately difficult.

p.s on the subject of Lost, for those who have got bored of it around eps5–7: keep watching. It gets intersting again around ep9.

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