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[personal profile] vyvyanx
O and I have just (yesterday evening) got back from the University of Sussex campus at Falmer near Brighton, where we spent a week doing Open University residential schools (me on quantum physics, him on psychology). I had a pretty good time. The campus is really pleasant, with an abundance of unafraid wildlife: huge gulls and crows, squirrels, rabbits hopping beside the paths, and even a pair of foxes chasing each other around near the East Side bar one night. The place was very keen on its green credentials: loads of recycling facilities, energy-efficient buildings and appliances etc., and the food was delicious, with a range of nutritious things available even for O (who is both vegetarian and coeliac).

I got to carry out a number of interesting experiments involving electron and X-ray diffraction, spectroscopy, radioactive decay, optical pumping, and simulations of quantum measurements, among other things (about 30 hours in the lab over the week). There were also a number of lectures and small-group problem sessions. Downsides: unfortunately I caught a rather bad cold, which manifested itself on Sunday night, reached its peak on Tuesday morning (when a sadistic tutor divided us into threes and got us to compete to answer QM exam questions as quickly as possible) and is only really gone today. Also, my lab partner pretty much all week was a very elderly chap (well over 70, I'd guess) who wasn't senile but was very slow in catching on to what we had to do, and kept copying my lab book because he couldn't understand the experiments. He was also quite deaf and had poorer eyesight than me, so I often had to repeat explanations several times, or make observations without a secondary check (e.g. the spectroscopy) because he simply couldn't see the relevant thing. This sort of thing was quite frustrating, and I'd rather the tutors had made us change partners each day (as happened at my residential in Durham last year).

Back home, I've checked on our plants: the tomato plants are thriving, and bending under the weight of fruit (we'll need to fasten them to canes shortly, I think). The chili plant is growing numerous green chilies; the aubergine plant has grown one medium sized aubergine and has several more flowers; the courgette plant seems to have suffered a bit from lack of water over the week (it only got watered once, apparently) but should pull through. Next year we'll grow courgettes from seed in the greenhouse and then plant them outside, so they get enough water. The end of the garden is also filled with ripening apples and blackcurrants.
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