The Student Room Group

Sinnoh's Fight To The Finish - 4th year physics and other things

(explanation of title)

Hello
Right. Here we go again. After taking a break from it for my 3rd year, I thought I'd return to blogging for my 4th and final year. I like reading back on my old blogs, and this year will be the first time since 1st year that I'll be doing uni as it was meant to be in the Before Time.

As well as updates on the physics I'm doing, I might do a few detours to talk about books or food or music or hot chocolate. So there's something for everyone.

The story so far
1st year (2019-20) - fun to begin with, things fell apart once coronavirus happened. Did possibly the least amount of work that anyone passing this course has ever done. Got 58.73% overall, but a safety net policy means that this won't count towards my final grade if it's lower than my average in subsequent years.

2nd year - pretty much entirely online, stayed at my parent's throughout and therefore I don't remember much of it. At least the library re-opened, so got to experience a little bit of campus normalcy. 61.80% overall, with a huge variation in module grades - my highest mark was 37% higher than my lowest.

3rd year - tried harder this time, and got to experience a lot more of being on campus, seeing my friends more regularly and all that, but still had pre-recorded lectures. 63.90% overall.

Where things stand now
Less than a year from now I will have my final degree grade. At present I don't know what kind of field I want to work in, if I want to do a PhD in anything, if I want to do a post-uni gap yaah to delay thinking about the previous two. I should probably think about at least one of these things.

You will have noticed I did slightly better each year. According to least-squares regression, if things continue this way, I would get about 66.7% in my 4th year (don't remember the uncertainty), leaving me with an overall grade of about 64.5%. To get a First, I would need over 80% in 4th year. Knowing myself, that's not happening, but maybe I can get above 65% overall...?

What's actually happening
4th year is master's year, and it's all optional modules, except for the things that aren't optional. Here's what I'm doing:

Atmospheric Physics (term 2)
Space Physics (term 2)
Cosmology (term 2... !!)
Fluid Dynamics (term 1, but from the Maths department)
MSci project
Research Interfaces

Since Fluid Dynamics isn't from the physics department, there's a risk of clashing with other exams. If that happens, my backup option if Quantum Optics, so maybe I'll be eligible for an award for the oddest choice of 4th year options ever.

My master's project is to do with giant aerosols and their effects on clouds. It's heavily computational, I'm quite bad at coding and due to unforeseen circumstances I am doing it solo instead of as a pair. This will be... aaaaaaaaa.
(edited 1 year ago)
Original post by Sinnoh

As well as updates on the physics I'm doing, I might do a few detours to talk about books or food or music or hot chocolate. So there's something for everyone.

:ahee:
will try to keep up with the posts :smile:
Reply 2
Original post by absolutelysprout
:ahee:
will try to keep up with the posts :smile:


beware they will come out at a terrifying pace

terrifying like a tortoise with a chainsaw
Original post by Sinnoh
beware they will come out at a terrifying pace

terrifying like a tortoise with a chainsaw

i'll be ready and waiting :teeth:
Life is too short (jk, fast) :sad:

Good luck! (with your masters?)
Hot chocolate updates return :woohoo:
Reply 6
Original post by BroeknRegretz
Life is too short (jk, fast) :sad:

Good luck! (with your masters?)

Cheers :smile:

Original post by flaurie
Hot chocolate updates return :woohoo:

It'll be hard to one-up on some of my previous creations
Reply 7
Had a meeting with my project supervisor for the first time in nearly 3 months, he outlined a few directions I could take the project in.
It could involve:

analysis of large data sets from satellites and aircraft to try to find trends between giant aerosol concentration and other climate effects

smaller-scale simulations of air parcels through clouds and how properties are affected by giant aerosols (ideally would combine this with observational data too)

directly trying to run a global climate model involving giant aerosols on a supercomputer, although this apparently might be too much for a MSci and would require me to be much better at coding than I am

Hopefully there will be some more information sent out about the marking rubric for the literature review (or I'll find it). It's 2000 words, has to be done by the start of term. From past experience that's doable in two days, but from past experience I know that I will go mad if I try.
(edited 1 year ago)
Reply 8
Term has started what

Hello again. I think that if I don't update this thread now I never will. A few things have changed since the last update. In decreasing order of notability, they are:

I've moved out

I've finished my literature review - barely

I've decided to join the Archery club


So yeah, moving out. That happened two Sundays ago, first time living away from home since first year, renting rooms in a house with two friends. It's much easier going to and from campus now, although the time saved in commuting ends up being used for washing up and shopping. Been doing a lot of cooking, and a little bit of going back to my parents' to eat (and to see them and my cat). I've been trying to make the perfect fried rice; on Saturday I came quite close, but I need to buy some sesame oil to lift it up further.

The MSci project: I wrote my literature review talking about sea salt aerosol and its known effects on clouds. I'm not particularly proud of it because a) I finished it 10 minutes before the deadline (or 3 hours and 10 minutes before; it's not clear), b) a chunk of it was mostly just citing the physics of droplet growth from a textbook and I feel like that misses the point a bit.
This was the third time this year that I've set an early alarm to finish a deadline. I was walking around the campus like a zombie, drunk on work, with all the starry-eyed lanyard-wearing freshers milling about. Not a great day.

Societies: still on the committees of two of them, things are going pretty smoothly although I worry that for one of them, the Union put us in a bad location for the Welcome Fair and we may have missed out on a lot of sign-ups as a result.
I joined archery because I haven't fired a bow in years but I remember it being fun. And it's the last year that I could actually try joining a sports society. I'm not so keen on their training times, though; I think it's Sunday 6-8 pm and Thursday 7-9 am (!). I'm assuming they got unlucky when trying to book the spaces.

Other things: got my first lecture tomorrow, Fluid Dynamics, as well as some other "welcome back" lectures from the physics department, and a meeting with my project supervisor.

As for hot chocolate updates, I have only had the one since moving in. King's Ginger works very well in hot chocolate but I wouldn't have it every time. Next time I am going to try combining cocoa powder and melted chocolate, as well as seeing if adding a pinch of instant coffee makes a difference.
sesame oil def makes a difference to fried rice :yep:

well done for getting the lit review done for now however rushed it may have been!
Reply 10
Original post by flaurie
sesame oil def makes a difference to fried rice :yep:

well done for getting the lit review done for now however rushed it may have been!


Thanks. The first 1200 words were very steadily written over the course of three weeks, the last 1200 words not so much :colonhash:
Original post by Sinnoh
Term has started what

Hello again. I think that if I don't update this thread now I never will. A few things have changed since the last update. In decreasing order of notability, they are:

I've moved out

I've finished my literature review - barely

I've decided to join the Archery club


So yeah, moving out. That happened two Sundays ago, first time living away from home since first year, renting rooms in a house with two friends. It's much easier going to and from campus now, although the time saved in commuting ends up being used for washing up and shopping. Been doing a lot of cooking, and a little bit of going back to my parents' to eat (and to see them and my cat). I've been trying to make the perfect fried rice; on Saturday I came quite close, but I need to buy some sesame oil to lift it up further.

The MSci project: I wrote my literature review talking about sea salt aerosol and its known effects on clouds. I'm not particularly proud of it because a) I finished it 10 minutes before the deadline (or 3 hours and 10 minutes before; it's not clear), b) a chunk of it was mostly just citing the physics of droplet growth from a textbook and I feel like that misses the point a bit.
This was the third time this year that I've set an early alarm to finish a deadline. I was walking around the campus like a zombie, drunk on work, with all the starry-eyed lanyard-wearing freshers milling about. Not a great day.

Societies: still on the committees of two of them, things are going pretty smoothly although I worry that for one of them, the Union put us in a bad location for the Welcome Fair and we may have missed out on a lot of sign-ups as a result.
I joined archery because I haven't fired a bow in years but I remember it being fun. And it's the last year that I could actually try joining a sports society. I'm not so keen on their training times, though; I think it's Sunday 6-8 pm and Thursday 7-9 am (!). I'm assuming they got unlucky when trying to book the spaces.

Other things: got my first lecture tomorrow, Fluid Dynamics, as well as some other "welcome back" lectures from the physics department, and a meeting with my project supervisor.

As for hot chocolate updates, I have only had the one since moving in. King's Ginger works very well in hot chocolate but I wouldn't have it every time. Next time I am going to try combining cocoa powder and melted chocolate, as well as seeing if adding a pinch of instant coffee makes a difference.

Have you tried Charbonnel et Walker's hot chocolate?

https://charbonnel.co.uk/product/original-drinking-chocolate-new-tin

Rather expensive, but probably the best that I've had. Fair recompense for a lit review, I think.
i am still thinking about those giant aerosols....
Reply 13
Original post by Reality Check
Have you tried Charbonnel et Walker's hot chocolate?

https://charbonnel.co.uk/product/original-drinking-chocolate-new-tin

Rather expensive, but probably the best that I've had. Fair recompense for a lit review, I think.


I've hardly ever had those premium hot chocolates - I've always thought I can do better from scratch, but I will need to compare one of these days so I'll give it a try
Original post by Sinnoh
I've hardly ever had those premium hot chocolates - I've always thought I can do better from scratch, but I will need to compare one of these days so I'll give it a try


Oh yes - if you've got good-quality chocolate and can make your own, then I imagine you can't beat that. I'm very partial to a good hot chocolate, particularly in the autumn and winter.
Original post by Sinnoh
Term has started what

Hello again. I think that if I don't update this thread now I never will. A few things have changed since the last update. In decreasing order of notability, they are:

I've moved out

I've finished my literature review - barely

I've decided to join the Archery club


So yeah, moving out. That happened two Sundays ago, first time living away from home since first year, renting rooms in a house with two friends. It's much easier going to and from campus now, although the time saved in commuting ends up being used for washing up and shopping. Been doing a lot of cooking, and a little bit of going back to my parents' to eat (and to see them and my cat). I've been trying to make the perfect fried rice; on Saturday I came quite close, but I need to buy some sesame oil to lift it up further.

The MSci project: I wrote my literature review talking about sea salt aerosol and its known effects on clouds. I'm not particularly proud of it because a) I finished it 10 minutes before the deadline (or 3 hours and 10 minutes before; it's not clear), b) a chunk of it was mostly just citing the physics of droplet growth from a textbook and I feel like that misses the point a bit.
This was the third time this year that I've set an early alarm to finish a deadline. I was walking around the campus like a zombie, drunk on work, with all the starry-eyed lanyard-wearing freshers milling about. Not a great day.

Societies: still on the committees of two of them, things are going pretty smoothly although I worry that for one of them, the Union put us in a bad location for the Welcome Fair and we may have missed out on a lot of sign-ups as a result.
I joined archery because I haven't fired a bow in years but I remember it being fun. And it's the last year that I could actually try joining a sports society. I'm not so keen on their training times, though; I think it's Sunday 6-8 pm and Thursday 7-9 am (!). I'm assuming they got unlucky when trying to book the spaces.

Other things: got my first lecture tomorrow, Fluid Dynamics, as well as some other "welcome back" lectures from the physics department, and a meeting with my project supervisor.

As for hot chocolate updates, I have only had the one since moving in. King's Ginger works very well in hot chocolate but I wouldn't have it every time. Next time I am going to try combining cocoa powder and melted chocolate, as well as seeing if adding a pinch of instant coffee makes a difference.

What a fun term for you! As a second year procrastinating on problem sheets every day I'm very jealous.

Also btw the title explanation video doesn't work but I think I get the Gen 4 reference. You are very loyal indeed.
Reply 16
I was going to start this post with an announcement that I'm going to drop the thread and this'll be one last round of updates, but then I kind of enjoyed writing it. So who knows.

The beginner's course for Archery sold out in under 10 minutes and I didn't get a place on it, so that's that.

MSci project has been going okay, it's honestly the first time since early in 2nd year that I've been regularly doing any sort of coding. It's not particularly difficult coding either, but it is a bit embarrassing when you're a 4th year and your supervisor is showing you how to reverse the order of one dimension in a 3-d array. So far most of it is just doing some nice visualisations of satellite data, picking out some interesting bits and running a simulation from a model copied from a Github repository. One thing that concerns me is that I can't tell if I'm ahead or behind on work, or what I might be doing 3 months from now. At least my supervisor is quite friendly and helpful in our meetings.

Societies have been going alright and I'm enjoying being on the committees but it's definitely taking up more time this year compared to last year. It does irk me a lot that, although the student union president made a big deal about reducing bureaucracy in her campaign, I'm filling in endless forms for events this term. Way more than last year. Couple that with having to wait ages and ages for room bookings, convoluted finance processes... it would be less paperwork to send a class of primary school children to a nuclear enrichment facility in the red light district of Mogadishu.

Fluid dynamics has been quite boring. It started out tame enough, looking at surface and internal forces, basic kinematics and vorticity, but has recently become quite abstract and dry and difficult to follow, since moving on to stress/strain tensors. The lectures go by quite slowly, the handwriting is small and messy and the lecturing style is inconsistent.

Oh, and there's this thing called Research Interfaces which is a group project involving writing a research proposal. Apparently they've reduced the workload in it from previous years - it seems very strange that it's worth more degree credit than the Team-based Problem Solving course in third year, which was pretty damn intense. Compared to that, the pacing in RI has been quite relaxed - the first bit of assessment is due the end of Friday, which is just a 1-page pre-proposal. We get allocated a broad area of research based on a preferences list, and I got my second choice, which is about beyond Standard Model physics. Within that, with our "research champion" we settled on something to do with optimising detector performance for the discovery of axions. I'm realising that I'm way out of my depth in this field, I've definitely got the least amount of theoretical physics background in my group. Mainly we're doing it because someone else in the group is basically doing this as their MSci project already.

O yeah and I went to MCM yesterday. Was fun but much busier than last year.

'til next time
Wishing you all the best for the year ahead. 🙂
Reply 18
So I've finished university. I actually did want to wrap things up with a post and forgot that I had this thread until just now.

In short, I've got a 2:i. My full results for 4th year are as follows:

Atmospheric Physics - 73.00%
Cosmology - 58.00%
Fluid Dynamics 1 - 74.36%
Space Physics - 53.45%
Research Interfaces - 69.00%
Master's project - 71.95%

Giving me a year total of 68.08%, my best so far, and an overall result of 65.09%. The actual graduation ceremony is in October.
This year has been a bittersweet blast. I really enjoyed my modules, had a great time in societies, enjoyed living out with friends again. But I remember kind of panicking when I realised I was 8 weeks into the second term and there was not much time left.

Aside from Research Interfaces, none of these results are in line with what I expected. I thought atmospheric was by far the toughest exam, I thought cosmology and space physics went better than they did, I thought my master's project would be quite underwhelming and I thought fluid dynamics would be scaled down (most of the questions in the exam were directly lifted from the textbook or previous tutorials; I didn't learn fluid dynamics this year, I learned how to answer three very specific questions about fluid dynamics and they all came up).

Now there's obvious question that I hate being asked - what now?
The answer is I still don't know. I applied for a scientist role at the Met Office and did an interview, but it didn't go well and even then I'm not sure if I'd move to Exeter for it. I haven't ruled out doing a PhD, but I was reluctant to apply for one back during the winter and I'd need to be doing it for the right reasons.

Anyway - that's it. I've kind of stopped giving a damn about TSR - the only place you can expect to see me will be the University Challenge thread. Imperial's episode is on the 11th of September.

Oh by the way, the National Student Survey results came out. Imperial Physics had astonishingly high participation - about 180 people took the survey out of a potential 220 or so. Most of the responses were an improvement on past years, so I guess the new course structure has helped somewhat. That said, one of the questions was "how often did you receive feedback on time?", to which 101 of us responded with "rarely", giving that question a "positivity score" of 15.6%. That's the lowest for any question about any course at Imperial.

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