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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

"The one with the nerd inside..."

Things are finally settling in to a dandy setting, now that the Easter breaks are done with and students are hitting the books for what is an inevitable exam week ahead. Near and afar, all over campus anxious and a steady fare of nervous faces roam about in abundance. I can certainly relate to their feelings of aghast and dread, having once been in their shoes a few years back.

For us postgraduates, it's business as usual under the (fading) sun. Fresh from my presentations leading up from the holidays, my committee has finally given me a cautious green light to gear up for work. I would really like to think that at this stage I feel quite familiar with the whole repertoire from literature; but for research students the whole endeavor of starting up is still an understandably daunting task to deal with. My workplace has been assigned - a spacious room flanked by two machines (or according to Prof. Don, gadgets) at my constant disposal; XPS and TOF-SIMS. Chemicals and reagents are in order, and apparatus are being set up as we speak. In all honesty, my PhD is now in full gear. First gear, that is.

All after about 8-10 presentations on research proposal and work design, from an extensive 6-weeks spent on literature survey and budget planning. It's hard not to be impressed with how these people do work and the extent of how their dedication goes - an epitome that those who fail to plan, plans to fail.

I've also been going in and out of lectures and seminars in regards to my field. Unlikely in Malaysia that I'd be able to find suitable presentations that I can relate to, but hence here its quite the norm. Some are fundamental, but there are those that fascinate you enough to be ingeniously inspiring. This evening I attended a talk that touched on nanometrology - a branch of science that deals with the standardization of measurement on a global scale. In short it tries to unfold that question often taken for granted;

"..what is a metre, and how sure are you that a kilogram really weighs a kilogram..?"

The enigma of what constitutes matter and elements are put into perspective. In relativity, how do you measure something as minute as photons, quarks and leptons to substantiate the existence of mass and hydrodynamics? In the end I begin to question whether there indeed was a considerable science to the S.I, or is it just a standard that is globally recognized and agreed upon by everyone.

I left the lecture theatre with the usual fascination that I'm even more flawed as I'm more educated. There's indeed so much more knowledge out there to be learnt. For once, I found other things that initially seemed trivial before, now as interesting in relation to what I'm doing at the moment. In that spirit, it wasn't until somewhere along my walk home in the darkness of dawn just now that I realized - that I might officially now be a N.E.R.D.

Speaking of walks - Bundoora as I've known it, has graced the coming of Autumn entirely - with plummeting temperatures and blistering drizzles being the order of days. Today completed the trifecta of single-digit centigrades; last check it was 7.5 degrees outside and raining nonetheless. My walks have been quite cold and I'm brought back to the days when I was in UK a few months back with chemoboy. The pleasure of puffing, without smoking. In retrospect, it did occur to me to just take the tram to the university now that its getting colder, but in the spirit of a good walk I denied this pleasure. I enjoy my brisks to and from work, and it helps me think. The cold is still bearable so far; suprisingly which I feel was in spite that I've experienced far worst conditions before in Sheffield.

A few high places in Victoria have recorded snow that's usually not seen until August, so Aussie's been frolicking with the weather a lot this year. I welcome the challenge, and I look forward to what's in store tommorow.

-JeP

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