All 6 entries tagged PhD

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November 17, 2005

Progress report

It's not going to be as serious as the title suggests though. I've been telling myself and folks at home that I've been working hard lately, so I thought it would be a good idea to track back what I've been up to. Things that relate studying that is.

The first week of November saw the second workshop of the Warwick Turbulence Symposium. After my poor efforts to join in last September, I actually made it to 75% of the presentations. Highlights:

  1. A presentation by Dominic Vella from Cambridge called the Cheerios effect which coincidentally is related to what I may be researching as well. All about how and why particles tend to cluster [I'll let the website explain].
  2. Another chance to see spectacular movies of vortex rings. Very colourful presentation and very clearly explained by Mark Brend. Current research in Warwick's own Engineering Department by Peter Thomas and Mark Brend.
  3. Eberhard Bodenschatz's presentation on Results from Lagrangian particle tracking in turbulence. For Lagrangian particle, read weightless fluid element - basically, you can track 'particles' which just go with the flow, i.e. they're part of the fluid, and find their mean separation. All really interesting indeed, and very important for my research. More info here!

After these meetings I got a lot more excited about my PhD and research, but also realized that just "plankton" might be a bit too wide a subject to study. My supervisor – alarmed by the little progress and the lack of small projects I can actually work on, but also triggered by my interest in some of the problems discussed in the workshop – came to the same conclusion and jumped in to point out 3 problems I could focus on. One involves the coagulation [sticking together] of particles [or algae/plankton] and the resulting sinking; another concerns the movement of bubbles [buoyancy] and the merging and dissolution of them; the last is an analytical problem which for now will be our backup.

On the other hand, my plankton interests were stirred again the weekend after the workshop [4-6 November] as Ali dragged me along to a skills session [pleasantly presented by Casey .] which was filled with biology students. One had to present his press release supposing his research had been successful, and started talking about micro-organisms in water that use photosynthesis. I learned that I should do more with my (Saturday) mornings as you might actually find someone interested in your research! Which reminds me, I've still got to email these people…

The next week was all about Hull. And tracking a book on Brownian Motion [random motion of particles]. Found the book by fortune when the maths library worker made me return 3 books that were 1200 years late [never knew there was a 2 week limit!] and someone else had just returned the much needed book. Hull was found more easily with great directions to the Deep where we met a research student working with a huge basin monitoring sediment movements due to flow. Unfortunately, the basin did not seem to be ideal for our more interesting problem [tracking bubbles] but it was quite exciting to see such a huge installation in action.

Later that day we visited the fluid dynamics lab where my supervisor's colleague and his research assistant had a whole set of small experiments set up. Got to wear goggles and look at water and dye mixing lit by lasers. There's no way I can express my excitement through this blog so I won't try. Let me just emphasize it involved lasers and colours and lots of useful results for my research. Even more useful was their excitement in our plans – especially the bubble problem. They were even so excited that they will build a small scale experiment to check our numerical and analytical results! [Indeed, that means people will depend on me and I should be modelling as I type.]

Unfortunately, I got to a complete standstill after Hull, and needed detox from too much excitement about this PhD project. If you read this blog regularly, you might understand that working every day for 2 weeks in a row is highly unusual [to be honest, I doubt I've ever properly worked more than 4 hours each day for more than two weeks in my entire academic career. Not sure if I should write that on my blog. Though the good thing you should note is that now I am reaching this state! Progress people! That's what counts!] Also, there was a Rev weekend in Bristol to attend. I did bring the book on Brownian Motion in an attempt to keep the work going - and actually read and enjoyed... and understood some of it – but my supervisor didn't buy the excuse on Monday and metaphorically kicked me butt hoping I'd start modelling.

It's Wednesday night now, and where am I? I've felt even more useful this week getting to know the other Fluid Dynamics students better and offering them help [no, I'm not really sure how I can help someone who has studied maths here for 4 years, but I thought the gesture could mean something]. Turns out my UC knowledge might be of some use, as everyone is suddenly talking about Hamiltonians and classical mechanics, for which I have a wonderful book sitting on my shelf. Which reminds me I should bring it to campus and offer it to those in need. Also had another great day in the library finding 3 useful books, one of which must be the biggest book in the world [Computational Fluid Dynamics]. Thank you to all the people supporting me in the effort to attack this literary fitness machine.

I used my Tuesday to find those books and to finish off the last major task for the December workshop (again Warwick Turbulence Symposium). I'm getting quite excited about this conference now, and hopefully I'll be ready for the next improvement: actually talking to the participants and see if I can say something useful.

Then tonight I found new appreciation for the people from MATLAB, who provide us with so many useful and varied resources on the internet, for F R E E ! I found a lovely .m-file modelling Brownian motion of 100 particles scattered around the origin and have already added a force (e.g. buoyancy) making it look like two fruitflies racing to reach the top of the domain. You should have seen my face – happiness all around! Now I've got to make them disappear when they reach the "water surface" and add a few more thousand bubbles. And make them merge when they come to close to one another. And have them in different sizes. And make them dissolve with some (low) rate. And write it all out in C++ [I assume I can make a program function better and run faster in this language than in MATLAB, especially if I have to track 10,000 particles...]. And then I've got my first project finished! Hurray!

So that's what I've been up to this side of November, apart from the Rev stuff and the supervision of freshers. In other news, I've finally tidied my room.


May 12, 2005

Madness

Bankschroef
Try to pronounce that! Bank should sound like the unc bit in uncle with a b in front of it. Schroef is like spoof but then obviously not with a p but with a horrible s with a throat sound (kind of like a k but then different). I have no idea what it is in English or how to use it, but here is a picture:

And yes, there are 6 consonants in line in that word. Some appreciation for the Dutch would be welcome!

Operator
Give me information…
Information
Give me long distance…
Long distance
Give me heaven!

Class song! More madness though…

On a more productive note: reading Geophysics books now which are really amusing and interesting!

Meteorologists and oceanographers agree, however, on the terminology for vertical motions: upward or downward.

Sometimes, I'm sure, everyone wished they were doing a science degree…

The interesting stuff mainly concerns the Coriolis force and why toilets flush differently in the Southern Hemisphere etcetera. All you learned when (yes when, you are at University so I can't say if:) you were a geeky 9yr old but forgot by now.

My milk is going bad in the mean time so better leave soon. Don't forget to stay on campus for the final week as the Arts Festival promises to be amazing! Great start on Sunday – be excited!


May 04, 2005

It takes control of your computer screen too!

Just installed MSN messenger version 928.4 or whatever. My screen has turned into a disco and I feel nauseous now. I have to buy funky emoticons if I want to use them and and and aargh MADNESS!

In the mean time, I'm still suffering from rehabilitation issues trying to avoid work though I really have to have a program ready tomorrow that solves an equation using Pseudo Spectral Method which I last saw exactly one year ago. I know MSN doesn't help, but luckily (???) I don't have internet at home!


April 28, 2005

First time for everything

Yesterday, I had the pleasure to enjoy my first glass of cherryade. It's like bubble gum but then fluid! Also ate jam doughnuts - had them before, but this time I finally managed to consume the jam as well.

Today, I heard the Waterboys on the radio. Seeing my parents' enthusiasm for this band, I could almost dream what they'd sound like and indeed, it's a bit of a cross between the Counting Crows and say Dire Straits. Actually, it probably isn't. Just lied again – had heard the song before (something with a moon and a crescent) but hadn't associated it with the Waterboys till today. Thanks Virgin Radio DJ!

Also today, I heard the new Coldplay single. Or at least, I think. It sounded a lot like anything else I've heard from them, and now I've already lied to you twice, I don't want to risk doing it again having heard a Coldplay song for the umpteenth time instead of the first. But I'm pretty sure they said 'new Coldplay single' blah 'album coming out', etc. In that case, it seems like they're the least progressive band in the whole world – singer's voice sounded like it sounded on Parachutes and the stuff underneath had the same style of Clocks without the piano bit. At one point they did sound a bit different, but maybe they just added a guitar or something. Sounded like U2. I think. Nevertheless, it was a very enjoyable song. Not sure if that's the emotion they wanted, but enjoyable it was. Would rather buy a Snow Patrol album or the Joshua Tree at the moment though.

Another first time: my PhD progress report. And don't make any jokes about how empty it will be! Got 3,850 characters and counting… The main 'first time' in this case is that it's the first time I'm feeling productive, and the first time I realize I have done work since I started. It's also a good way to get organized. But I won't complain about how hard it is to write and how much work as anyone reading this is obviously trying to avoid something that requires far more attention than a 3 page report. Go study!


April 20, 2005

I only come out at night…

...is a great tune. Is also very true. After days of Chinese sleeping patterns (is it am or pm?) and losing the will to do any work, I've finally come to my senses and had at least 2 breakthroughs on one day. Hurray!

Just had the first Rev rehearsal of term as well, which is probably why I finally started working (2 hours non stop since the end of the social). Anyway – breakthrough one: There's one professor who's basically involved with every article I read – might be worth visiting Southampton at some point. That's not the breakthrough – turns out there is a post-doc at his research institute who got his PhD from Warwick on phytoplankton – just what I need! Gonna go find it on Thursday…

Other breakthrough is not really a breakthrough. I just realized that with Google I can look for PDFs containing words relating to my research (just go to Advanced Search and select the file type you need). Trying 'phytoplankton' and 'turbulence' gives about 12.000 results. Got almost three years left though…

Got up before noon today and will have to do so tomorrow in order to sing in Symphony Hall, so might be some prospects of seeing daylight more often! Anyway – should leave now in order to make that happen.


January 31, 2005

The longest day

I'm ill. Can't really point out what it is but as I'm writing I'm trying to avoid spilling anything on my housemate's desk. It doesn't include a headache so I am just gonna add a few entries to my blog. Here's what I did last week. Don't go away now - it's almost interesting!

Actually, the first event happened earlier this month, but I need to mention it anyway: I have some sort of foundation for my thesis! And I've only been doing it for 4 months (seriously, that's quite an achievement seeing that it's mostly a trial and error process). But yes, I had some trouble getting excited about earlier articles I read – too technical – so my supervisor googled another name in the field I'm interested in and voila, here I am, fully enjoying and understanding three articles about the influence of turbulence on the population dynamics of phyto- and zooplankton, a system that plays a vital role in the global carbon cycle. Will explain more later.

Second event: Departure of housemate. Now, I'm not sure what the rules are for housemates that are your friends when they leave (as in, no bad word about the dead) but let me just say, he didn't make it easy. I'll just note that I spent my whole Thursday doing the dishes he left for his goodbye dinner (which I didn't particpate in, see below). Still need to clear out the fridge. You get the idea.

Third event: Concert team meeting. Actually, this is not of any interest to anyone, but let me just say we got a great design team, and an awesome (SC accent) publicity crew, so it's bound to be a wonderful night. What night, you say? Saturday 5 March, Coventry Central Hall (near the Litten Tree), Inspired!, brought to you by Warwick Revelation Rock-Gospel Choir. Keep ears and eyes open for more publicity!

The longest day: Wednesday 26 January.

  • Woke up at 8am which only happens once a blue moon
  • Had graduation (MSc in Mathematics) which only happens twice a lifetime or so – blatantly lasted 1,5 hours longer than advertised
  • Mom and sis visited which never happens (as they'd usually spread their visit and mom would come with dad) – blatantly ended up shopping in Coventry
  • Walked home from Coventry Railway Station, which is bound to happen more often this year
  • Said goodbye to leaving housemates and hi to his friends some of which are also my friends – made them improvised dessert (stroopwafels with cream and hagelslag, yumm!)
  • Went over financial details with housemates so that everything was (more or less) sorted
  • Went to bed 1.30am fell asleep before 4am, I think – surely there are longer days, but when are they so packed with events?

In the mean time, I ruined my throat singing a really high bit in Rev, which signalled the arrival of swollen tonsils (Wed-Fri)/ flu (Fri-Sun)/ severe cold (Sun-now). I was planning to go to Edinburgh for the weekend for EdRev's Ball and to see many friends, but yeah, thought that wasn't too clever an idea… Don't think I can write this much about this week as I'll probably stay in for most of the time.


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