Hardbound and Heavy

Hardbound thesis

The hardbound version of my Ph.D thesis in all its 100,000+ words of glory.

It’s done; it’s finished; it’s been handed in for the very last time.  I’m simultaneously proud of it and pleased to see the back of it.  There will be no more re-writes, no more extra bits and no more final, final, final, really-the-last-one editing sessions.  Well, at least, not until the next big project comes along… (and I’ve got a few of those on the drawing board already).

But for now, this is it – job done.  All I’m waiting for now is the official letter from the University of Liverpool in a few weeks time.  As to-do list ‘ticks’ go, this is a pretty big one.

Posted October 17, 2015 by HVS in Chester, Live music, Liverpool, Thesis

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Ph.D. Stack Overflow (in a good way)

Staggering under the stack

Four copies of ten years’ work add up to a lot of paper and board.  This is how I reckon I’ll look when I stagger into the Graduate School with the final product next week…

Well, it’s very nearly official…. (my soon-to-be doctorate, that is).

Today I took four copies of the final, final, final version of my Ph.D. thesis to the bookbinder.  Three copies will disappear into various university libraries, via a final approval committee at the University of Liverpool some time in November.  The fourth will live on my bookshelf.

Nearly there…!

Posted October 7, 2015 by HVS in Thesis

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“How many zombies do you know?” – Columbia University Investigates

It’s good to see that modern zombie researchers* take Health and Safety seriously.  You can never be too careful with hordes of the ravenous undead around.

Extract of zombie paper

Elf & Safety, & Zombies

The full paper is available here.

*As the author of the paper makes clear, that’s people who research about zombies, not zombies who do research.  It’s an important distinction.

Posted May 18, 2015 by HVS in Mathematics, Memes, Zombies

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Arduino Days

My first degree was a Joint Honours B.Sc. in Music & Physics.  The music part has remained a serious hobby, and provided the raw material for my Ph.D study, but the physics has always been the basis of how I earn my living.  I’m therefore enthusiastic about the trend for ‘physical computing’, which involves messing about with resistors and soldering irons as well as coding.  It’s great to get back, literally, to the nuts and bolts of the hardware.

I’ve therefore been spending a chunk of this weekend assembling an Arduino DIY Gamer kit; a very enjoyable process, especially if like me you enjoy both physics and crafts.  You do have to read the instructions carefully though!  I thought I had, but discovered too late that I’d fixed the IR transmitter in at the wrong angle, and it proved impossible to remove without breaking something.  (This won’t stop the kit as a whole from working, but might make multi-player gaming via IR a bit flaky.)  I also managed to fix the battery terminals in the wrong way around!  Fortunately they were easier to get out again than the IR TX, and fitted back in after a bit of filing and resoldering.  The kit is now working, and after a couple of tries I’ve also got the Arduino IDE downloaded onto my Mac, and talking to the Gamer.  Next stop, Space Invaders!

Cycling Science & the Himalayas in Chester

Recently I’ve been busy organising a day of events on the science and engineering of bicycles, featuring presentations by the cycling and science journalist Max Glaskin.  You see more about these events on my other blog at:-
https://whelkblog.wordpress.com/2015/04/06/coming-soon-to-chester-cycling-science-the-himalayas-25th-april-2015/

and:-

https://whelkblog.wordpress.com/2015/04/27/cycling-science-the-himalayas/

Of Science, Love, and the Boring Bits

Just gonna leave this here.. http://t.co/yBM40l3kOf pic.twitter.com/Ls1r9yPT7X

Tweeted by Jon Tennant (@Protohedgehog) May 14, 2014

Original cartoon at http://explosm.net/db/files/Comics/Kris/same.png

Posted May 15, 2014 by HVS in Mathematics, Physics

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Dunnit!

20131221-011031.jpg

“Five copies for binding…”

It’s a funny thing, this thesis-writing business.  The hand-in deadline – 31st December 2013 – has been on my mind and on the horizon for ages. I have been ‘approaching submission’ for a couple of years at least, a bit like a tiny space probe heading for a very large but very distant planet. I travelled & travelled, but the planet never seemed to get any closer.  And then all of a sudden it was the only thing in sight, touchdown was frighteningly imminent, and there was an awful lot to do in a very short time. This was of course the point at which Word decided to have conniptions about the size of some of my files – thank you, Scrivener backups, for saving the day and my sanity!  Then there was the minor problem of getting long complicated documents to output to PDF format for printing. I have done this many times for shorter, simpler documents with no trouble at all, by using ‘print to pdf’ from within Word.  Suffice it to say that on this occasion I ended up printing all five lots of 380 pages myself from the Word documents, which was probably doing things the hard way, but it got the job done.

And then it was Tuesday afternoon, just after the end of the Autumn term.  Retro-rockets were firing and kicking up moon dust and the altitude figures were suddenly in feet rather than miles…  And meanwhile back on planet earth, four copies of my finished thesis – all 380 pages of prose, photos, quotes and references – were now bound and labelled and on their way to Senate House.  At Reception, a lady from the Graduate School appeared, disappeared, and reappeared again clutching a form, a pen and a clipboard.  I filled in the form and handed it back, at which point Ms Grad School smiled, said nice things like ‘well done’ and disappeared again with the cardboard box of thesis copies and the paperwork.

And that, for the time being, is that. I am not yet ‘Dr Southall’; in fact,  I’m in Ph.D limbo.  I know I’ll have a viva some time in the next three months or so, but apart from that, for the first time since I officially set out on this voyage almost eight years ago, I’m not in control of what happens next.  It’s a tiny bit disconcerting.  However, it’s a pleasant sort of disconcerting in many ways.  For a start, and unlike last year, I won’t be working through most of the Christmas ‘holiday’, trying to get a full draft of all chapters completed. This year I can take time off to go walking, watch Poirot and Time Team, and finish knitting that jumper at last with a relatively clear conscience. I might even get started on the knitted woodlouse I’ve been planning for several months now. On balance, this particular limbo is actually quite bearable!

Happy Christmas everyone!

Posted December 21, 2013 by HVS in Thesis

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