Brushing off the Cobwebs…

The once green fields have been stripped of their will to live. After many months of being denied of their need of quenching, they will be saved by being awo…*thud*…*thud*… HE IS BACK!…

Hellooo fellow Astrogeeks,

Why yes, it has been a very long while since I last graced you all with a blog post. I only hope you are still keen to read the ramblings of a would-be astronomer. For clarification, and just in case your memory is terrible, an astronomer. Not, and I repeat, not an astrologer. Sadly the arbitrary alignments of planets are not causing the crappy events across the world we are currently seeing. So you (well, not all of you) put down that horoscope.

But you have been gone so long my mind has melted into acceptance, and blind following of alt-facts. It was all I had.

*Grumbles and sighs*… Urgh! Let’s, let’s not get onto that topic for now. I am dreadfully sorry though for not keeping you engaged through the eyes of a scientific mind. I can see why the last 12 months alone would have ultimately led to the ‘great purge’ of any good I did to your mind…

Well, I guess you could start by telling me where you have been? What’s happened in your world of academic-ness? Did you finish your M.Phil?

Hmm, well, aside from most of the last year being all blurry as it whiz-banged by with a crap load of stuff happening all at once, I did complete my M.Phil. After a grueling few months writing my M.Phil thesis I submitted it in May. The scary bit however was the  oral examination, the more posh Latin way academia puts it is ‘viva voce’, or just ‘viva’ for short. This is made up of a panel of an external examiner from another university/institution, an internal examiner and a chair Eventually a date was set for my viva, 12 August 2016, and the day came round rather quickly.

Sounds rather daunting, were you not cacking yourself?

That is a rather crude way of putting it, but yes, yes I was absolutely “cacking” it. So, suited and booted to impress my examiners I did nothing but pace back and forth so as to gather my thoughts. I knew in my anxiety I would forget things, as it has always been a strong inhibitor in my recall. However, I was successful in defending my work and confirming I did do everything, which is the point of the whole thing. With minor corrections needed I got to work on, well, correcting! Before a final version was accepted and then bound into a lovely book. I do to occasionally like to caress it, as sad and weird as that may sound… Anyway, after handing in my bound copies I was awarded the M.Phil and received my certificate in December. If you’d like to see it, then look below! I also get another chance to dress up and get robed in June.

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My funky M.Phil certificate

So, is that it? What are you doing now? I thought you would be going onto a PhD?

Well, I am doing exactly that right now. At the beginning of 2016 I was hunting around for PhDs, and sadly I had missed the window for quite a few since I was focusing on my M.Phil at the time. In short, however, I applied to the University of Hull and I am here now. Currently researching galaxy clusters in an attempt to better understand how the kinematics and dynamics of clusters of galaxies affects their evolution, morphology (shape), colour etc.

Does this mean you are going to open a ‘PhD Adventures’ section on your blog?

That is what I am now hoping to do yes. I want to keep up with this blog and properly document (British) PhD life for you all. On a weekly basis. So, in short expect to see updates on this site shortly. I might even spruce it up to look all pretty. Anyway, I must be off now for I have to endure 3 days worth of Health & Safety training in the morning, oh the joys.

So long astrogeeks, until next time!

Yours,

TheObAstro

Long Time, No See! The Woeful Strains of Academia

*The wind howled and rattled against the cold and dark window pain… Suddenly… LIFE*

Hello everyone who so happens to tremble and fumble along to me own little bloggy/science page… Thing? I know it’s been an awfully long time since my last post, but there have been reasons. The most obvious one is that I’ve been busy with my studies. And finding the time, has been hard (admittedly, I…Err…Forgot as well).

So, considering we’ve been turning to dust here on the internet. What have you been doing exactly?

Well, long story short I have just been “working”. Research can be slow, painstakingly so. For the most part I have been working hard in reducing, cleaning and analysing my data. Followed by collating it all so I don’t forget or lose what I’ve just been doing. Not only that, but there has been a lot of programming to try and fit in. As well as that I’ve been doing lots of writing, endless writing of what essentially is a massive dissertation, or a really long essay.

Wait, wait, wait… Programming? I thought you were an Astronomer?

Yes, well I might have mentioned this before if you can remember?… Well, Astronomy heavily relies on computers, and not only that but the amount of data we have is, well, a **** load. We want to be able to have programs that can help us to reduce and analyse the data quickly with minimal error. So, we therefore have to make little programs to these things for us. This allows us to get to the fun bit of interpreting the data without too much faff. We are full of surprises aren’t we!

All of this writing, it sounds pretty intense. What were you writing exactly, and why?

Ahhh! Well, I had been writing what’s called at the Open University a “Probation Report”. Now, since I am doing an M.Phil there is no real “probation” as such like there would be with a Ph.D student. However admin wise I still have to show something to the University that I have been doing work, and not just wasting my days playing tiddlywinks. It kind of makes sense really. Also it’s allowed me to consolidate my information and data into one document. Which has made my thinking less vagarious!

Wow… This is making my head hurt with all of these different things you have to do. What are you doing now?

Currently I am just busy ‘doing the science!’. That is, getting as much science as I can out of all of this data as humanly possible. All this while knowing I’ll have to submit my work formally into a bound thesis at some point over the next few months. To say I’m friggin’ scared is putting it mildly. Mainly for the viva voce exam where I defend my work. Essentially an oral exam where I have to confirm that I am the person whom has written the thesis, and knows what I am talking about.

Glad I’m not stuffed into your shoes!… So, doing anything else?

Well, as well as my main ‘academic’ life I’m also doing many other things. For one example I’m learning German, which finding the time for at times has been tricky. However I have enrolled myself onto the Goethe Institut A1 exam for beginners. I am doing this to gain another skill, but also because my girlfriend is German. So, it would be perfect to talk amongst English people who most likely will not understand what we’re talking about. Haha! I’ve also been helping out with some of the undergraduate modules, mostly acting as a ‘guide’ for students accessing and using our Radio Telescope here on the OU campus. Remotely controlled from the students’ homes. It’s fun and interesting work to do!

Been rather busy haven’t you? Oh well, what next after this M.Phil of yours?

Aha! Yes, well you can’t blame one for trying to be as resourceful as possible with gaining experience. But yes! After the M.Phil I hope to continue my studies on towards a funded Ph.D, as of this moment in time I’m looking up potential places to apply to. So Exeter, the OU, Liverpool, maybe oxbridge etc. In short, we’ll see how it goes :-). Can’t be picky, but I also have to be happy.

Anyway, I must dash off and wander off to ‘do the science’. But it’s been lovely to catch up with you all again. I promise I will not be so much of a stranger in the future.

Catch you all later astrogeeks!

TheObAstro.