Sunday, July 30, 2006

The cupcakes were disappointing, though

Our university had a big anniversary today and celebrated with huge amounts of free food.

It was an excellent opportunity to observe large numbers of ravenous, aggressive graduate students in their natural environment.

Many of the departments were also open to the public to try and prove why they deserve more funding demonstrate the products of their research or to give talks. The funniest thing was that you could tell how (un)interested the organisers had thought the public would be in each demonstration by the amount of free food being offered to go along with it. At two extremes, the virtual reality theatre had no food, while the solo violin recital offered wine and cheese.


Miss M. said...

I noticed, too, that you could tell which of the undergrads still lived at home and which had to cook for themselves. The number of students from catered Halls of Residence who showed up was considerably less than those from non-catered Halls. I surely showed up [mostly] just for the food!

StyleyGeek said...

It's funny to think that you were there. Maybe we even saw each other.

We were part of the (ever-growing) bunch of people by the empty table that said "cupcakes" above it, standing waiting for them to finally give out the cakes. Apparently they had to wait for some "special guests" who never turned up.

Finally the organisers caved in after somebody had the bright idea of sending their small, cute child over to ask if the cupcakes would be ready soon.

Miss M. said...

Aha, oh that's creepy, I remember hearing about the cupcakes fiasco from a friend! I wasn't there for that bit, but I did spend a while chasing the rumours of chocolate biscuits in one of the sciency departments that were circling through the out-and-about residents of non-catered Halls like wildfire.

Ahh, I love being a scroogy student, but I hadn't had chocolate biscuits in ages.

Now next time I walk into Uni I'll be curiously gazing at passers-by in a mildly distracted "what if?" sort of way. How odd this is!

shrinkykitten said...

virtual reality theatre????

StyleyGeek said...

(Excuse the deleted comment. Damn typos.)

The VR theatre was very cool, shrinky. It's two walls, at right angles to each other, and each is an enormous computer screen. You wear 3D glasses that make everything spring into relief around you (it feels like you can reach out and grab bits of the images!) and a hat that is linked to a camera that tracks your head movements (and adjusts the images accordingly). There's also a glove that works kind of like a mouse, so that you can 'grasp' objects, click on 3D buttons, and draw in the air (seemingly) around yourself.

geekman said...

miss m. - Are you a physicist, perchance?

Miss M. said...

Geekman - no, unfortunately not. Though I did do a course last semester that wound up being basic cosmology but tied in all sorts of interesting stuff from obscure philosophical theories to quantum reality which I found decidedly interesting (one very funky lecturer, the other not so funky). My main areas of interest tend more towards Immunology and Biochemistry.

A little less theoretical (the idea of a thought experiment is not so universally understood, for evident reasons) but since I had such wide interests to begin with, and could pick but one, I figured I can indulge the rest of my fascination-fettishes outside of Uni.

Perhaps you could call me a closet physicist with no particular formal education in the area?

(did you go to that public lecture on super symmetry the other week?)

StyleyGeek said...

Yes, we were both at that lecture (second row from the back). Probably saw you there, too!

geekman said...

Oh, okay. I was just wondering if I was likely to have run into you wandering around the halls of the physics department. It is kind of weird thinking you might know someone as an online persona and as a physical person, but never suspect they're one and the same!

As styley says, we were at the supersymmetry lecture. We were the ones hanging around the door, wondering how much of the (minimal) free food we could swipe :)

Miss M. said...

Oh gosh, I was the one who came in slightly late and breathless with two crazy-haired maths students and ended up sitting on the sairs on the right hand side. I only got there about two minutes before they started all those lengthy introductions.

It's definately odd thinking I more than likely saw you both at one point or another!

Morton T Fogg said...

Miss M, Styleygeek, I missed the super symmetry lecture last week -- any chance you could do a one or two sentence summary of it?

I also made it to the party on Sunday too late for most of the food. On the plus side, I made it to some great musical performances. But those don't tend to fill the stomach ...

Miss M. said...

Morton T Fogg -

Did you get to the one with wine and cheese?

Geekman would probably do a better summary than I (being a real actual live physicist and all), but from memory, after the moderately funky animations of odd stuff, and bits and pieces about bosons and fermions and their respective opposite numbers, there was a little bit about how to theoretically convert them in even more funky accelerators.

The lecturer got asked a bit at the end about what would happen if, when they actually try it out, their theories prove to be incorrect and it doesn't happen "like it's meant to", and he said then the idea of supersymmetry would probably be taken more thoroughly into the realm of the mathmaticians.

I don't remember a lot more than that, which is either a comment on the depth to which I understood it in the first place, or on how much attention I paid during the lecture, oops!

StyleyGeek said...

See above.