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March 16, 2009

Activity : You and Your URSS project

Hello Everyone

The participants were split into groups of 5/6 and the following questions were asked

·        What am I looking forward to about participating in URSS

·        What am I hoping to achieve through my URSS project

·        Why did my URSS project interest me

·        What new skills am I hoping to develop through my project

·        What contribution to knowledge could my URSS project make

The collated results are below - please note I strongly encourage you to spend a couple of minutes thinking about your answers to the above questions as you only had chance to think about 1 question on the day!

Apologies if I've mixed up the answers as not all the flipcharts were labelled - my fault I should have said!

What am I looking forward to about participating in URSS

·        Insight on research

·        Active in real research

·        Creating a network in the academic field

·        Gaining experience

·        Knowledge of area of research

·        Staying at University

·        Working with colleagues and experts

·        Cool Toys

·        Getting paid

·        Enhanced CV

·        Kudos

·        Not a ‘McJob’

·        Investigating my career

·        Seeing places I’ve not been to before

·        Doing something different

·        Adding to prior knowledge

·        Publication

·        Opportunities not available for Undergrads

·        Working with dangerous chemical

What am I hoping to achieve through my URSS project?

·        Improve my skills and knowledge base

·        Specialise in something interesting

·        More informed career choices

·        CV (enhancement)

·        Networking

·        Something to talk about at job interviews

·        Travelling

·        Realistic research environment

·        Work with different cultures

·        Familiarise myself with my department

·        Gain research experience

·        Study a subject I haven’t encountered before

·        Produce a piece of work worthy of publication

·        Warwick Skill Certificate

·        Teamwork skills

What new skills am I hoping to develop through my URSS project?

·        Time Management

·        Planning / Organisation skills

·        Researching skills (archives and interviews)

·        Presentation skills

·        Problem Solving

·        Using Different Databases

·        Communication Skills

·        Lab Practical Skills

·        Independent working skills

·        Critical Analysis

·        Ethical Awareness

·        Practical Skills

·        Succinct and accurate presentation skills

·        Good research skills

·        Networking

·        Budgeting

·        Motivating myself

·        Writing up research

·        Literature searches

·        Group work / Teamwork

·        Initiative to study alone

What contribution to knowledge could my URSS project make?

·        Better understanding of the world we live in

·        Developing areas of expertise previously unknown or under-developed fields of academia

·        People become more aware of everyday issues that affect us all

·        How technologies could be adapted to work and be manufactured in developing countries

·        Making new knowledge more accessible

·        Achieving published results and furthering the field

·        Redesigning existing technology

·        Help create a safer world

·        Global education knowledge

·        Advertising education

·        My understanding of my project

·        Unlock the door to new ideas to explain more problems in Science

·        New ideas and new approaches

Why did my URSS project interest me?

·        Working with Academics

·        Getting published

·        Genuine Research

·        Experience Research Environment

·        Gain Skills

·        Subject interest

·        Working independently

·        For future career

·        Experience

·        To make a difference

·        Networking

August 11, 2007

NMR Week 8 + final 2 days

After last week’s work on optimising the parameters for the simulations, previous spectral simulations were redone to improve their quality.

At the end of last week my supervisor had asked me to prepare a talk for the next group meeting, which was to be held on the Friday morning. The majority of the week was thus spent creating the associated powerpoint slides, which I found to be a very useful exercise. The first thing I learnt was that you cannot include everything you’ve done into a talk; you have to pick out the sections that worked well and which link together in order to form a story. For this reason the talk omitted the simulations work, focusing only on relevant previous experimental work, my research and what they told about the possible structures of the samples.

I did a run through of the talk with a colleague, which was great for identifying flaws. After this the talk itself seemed to go fairly well :)

On Friday afternoon and the following Monday and Tuesday I started work on my poster.

Back in Devon now and enjoying the sunshine, but still with my poster to do. I’ll let you know when I finish!

NMR Week 7

Part of one day was spent looking again at the experimental spectral peaks we found and trying to come to some conclusions about whether it is what we expected.

Throughout the week we did absolutely loads of simulations work – some of which took quite a few goes to get:
a) atomic coordinates from molecule modelling programs and
b) input files written so that spectral peaks look as you would expect from experiment (there are several parameters that one can set)!

We tried a 2D simulation and did some 6-spin ones using coordinates from atoms that would be on adjacent molecules in a crystal.

When I started the project I was under the impression that simulations of our samples would have been completed by this stage. However I now realise that these things have to be done systematically and that you have to ensure that the basics are correct before moving onto the more complex.

NMR Week 6

We met Erwin Hahn! Who honourarily (?) graduated on Monday with the other physicists :) Go here to see him and the rest of us!

Work-wise I did more simulations using Spin Evolution, but this time using different pulse sequences. Amy did the equivalent using Simpson so we can compare.

Experimentally we had planned to run quite a few samples on the 600 MHz spectrometer but we had difficulty with various things so we didn’t get as much done as expected (research is seemingly a very slow process at times!).

On Thursday I did a 4-spin simulation using Spin Evolution. I chose atoms in the penicillin molecule to check that interatomic distances were represented on the spectum as expected. I also looked at the effect of changing the spinning speed and number of propagations.

Friday we ran a 2D experiment on sample B04. We got a lot of noise so left it running over the weekend.

July 22, 2007

NMR Week 5

This week brought more complex simulations in the form of Post C7 3-spin (3 atom) ones (after working out the problems of last week’s 2-spin ones). With more spins the Simpson simulation becomes a lot slower. I only managed one arrangement of the 3 spins (at different spinning speeds and number of pulse sequences) in one day, although this process had to be done accurately for suitable comparison with the equivalent setup using the Spin Evolution simulation.

Throughout the week I tried three more arrangements of three atoms, modelling them on the compound alanine and looking at both carbon and hydrogen spectral simulations. The amplitudes of each arragement’s spectra after different numbers of pulse sequences produced what is known as a build up curve. They should look fairly similar in shape…some did but some of the later ones didn’t…This is probably a problem with estimating the spectral peak amplitudes and I will try different methods at some point. If I do get good curves, it it a good indication of the simulations working correctly.

Amy put B05 in the spectrometer so now we have all six of the CP spectra!

July 17, 2007

0vßß– Hierarchy Graph

Just a short update from me today, since my last blog i have found a suitable graph producing library for PHP (a web based programming language), and collated the data that needs to be plotted.

In the background of the plots I needed to plot the theoretical allowed values- this presented a challenge, as none of the academics in the department remebered how! However after a trawl through papers, and a week of fiddling and coding i was able to produce the graph below, in the correct form, and generating the curves on the fly, so eventually the user will be able to change the paramters at will!

Neutrino Hierachy

July 09, 2007

NMR Week 4

To start the week I continued with reading but more concerning the physics behind simulation parameters than how the simulations work.

I tried two simulation programs and tried to get matching spectra on both – usually unsuccesfully! This is a minor setback and I’m sure that as I accumulate a greater understanding of the programs, my use of them will improve. I asked some of the others for help and have a few things to try for next time.

Using a previously found paper, which listed the chemical shifts of a very similar compound to those I am studying, I compared shifts in compounds. I found the expected similarities – indicating that the two samples have common molecular groups. I also found a large anomaly for one of the samples, suggesting that the sample isn’t of the structure we first assumed it to be.

Modelling the neutrinoless double beta–decay (ββ(0v))

Our (Andrew’s and mine) project involves the design and implementation of a Monte Carlo simulation of the ββ(0v) decay event, which should help in the search for the event. Tim has already outlined the basic theory of the decay, but not the implications of its observation.

If the ββ(0v) decay is observed then some assertions about neutrinos in the Standard Model (SM) of physics are incorrect. For example, the SM explains the observation of only left handed neutrinos by asserting that neutrinos propagate at the speed of light, and therefore are massless. However if the ββ(0v) is observed then it implies neutrinos have a finite mass, which is a big problem in the SM.

Neutrino physics has advanced rapidly and more theory suggests that this is the case, and the SM will need more and more augmentation if these theories are proved correct by observation.

July 04, 2007

My Project

Project Intro: Title: Development of an e-resource for Low Background Physics: ββ(0v)

My project is basicly to create a website where physicists researching into double beta decay can come to quickly and easily produce graphs showing background levels experienced in various experiments going on worldwide. To understand why this is needed, some basic theory is required:

Beta Decay

Beta Decay is the process in which a neutron decays, via the weak interaction to a proton, releasing an electron and an electron anti neutrino.

Beta Decay

In in normal beta decay two such events happen simultaneously, with the emission of two electrons and two antineutrinos. Neutrinos are assumed to be massless. This is as far as the “standard model” of particle physics can take us.

Double Beta 2v

Neutrinoless Double Beta

Certain theories beyond the standard model predict that neutrinos are actually Majorana particles (they are there own antiparticle) with non zero mass. In order to test these theories you can look at there prediction that Neutrinoless Double beta decay could occur, as shown below:


A virtual neutrino is exchanged between the two decaying nuclei, leaving only two electrons to be released. This is a testable prediction, as the two electrons must share the energy avaliable equally, and hence produce a sharp single peak on an energy distribution graph.

The reason this has not yet been conclusivly done arises because the half life of this process is very long! Around the order of ~10^25 years! This means even with a ton of source material only one or two of these event would happen within a year!

This is where my project comes in. If we are to spot the one or two events in a year, then the background noise must be very low. My project is to build a resource that will collate all the current experimental evidence around background noise, in a simple and easy to use format.

July 02, 2007

NMR Week 3

This week mainly involved reading about NMR theory (in particular about expected locations of spectral peaks). The aim of this reading was to help me to identify which spectral peaks derived from which bonds in the molecule. To enable this to be done in a logical manner I have started to number the different bonds of each molecule, noting which bonds appear in more than one sample (which should be able to be identified from the spectra also). One spectra was collected and I observed a double quantum spectra, which provides information on distances between atoms.

On Thursday Amy went away for a week so I am left to run some simulations. During Thursday and Friday I read up on the background material and theory required for me to properly understand the workings of the simulations and how all of the parameters correspond to a real situation. I know I started a little on this reading last week, but after three years of not having to read much I find that it’s quite a slow process! It certainly is a change from labs when you’re more or less given all of the information you will need.


Thursday also meant Craft Day at WSAF during which I made a hat for the monkey that is perched over my desk:

I’ll take some proper science-related photos at some point.

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