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Finishing this year's studies

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Well! 

I've just not too long hence submitted the exam script that would have been my final one for my Q77 degree. So that in itself is an accomplishment. But since I have switched from that degree to the M06 Master of physics, I will no longer be able to claim that qualification. Still, it feels good; I now have three or four months of summertime fun to be had, and I begin with a night out tonight, at a house rave in King's Cross. 

How did I do in the exams? Well, I took two of them, and I must admit, the Relativistic Universe proved to be the simpler. Actually, perhaps the truth is that they were both equally as difficult. But the fluid mechanics exam seemed to knock me for six, and I daresay I attained less marks for that than for S383. We shall see, and yes, I am keen to find out. 

It is six twenty in the morning, of the 9th of June 2023. I uploaded my script by four thirty am, having sat the exam at 12 midnight - that's how I've always done these open-book exams, it's how I feel most comfortable. I have tried to sleep, but my mind is awake, and I am awake, and I have plans to visit the town to sit and perhaps write in my journal for an hour, before I come home to catch a couple of z's, before I go out tonight. 

What am I going to do this summer? There are things I have planned. For one, I would like to complete editing my book, and then go ahead and upload the manuscript to some relevant publishers, namely mental health publishers, and I really hope that somebody picks the book up. Unfortunately, the excursion with the script that was based on my book never came to fruition, in any decent way, other than that I made three and half grand for my deal, which was good. 

I am going to play some cards. I'm going to read some card books, in whatever form, and learn some new tricks, and skills, and show them to people. 

I'm going to play some computer games. I'll get my Nintendo Switch back from my folk's house, where it was so that the boys could use it. Also, I'll play some Super Mario World on my Super Nintendo Mini. I may buy some new games for the Switch. 

I'll take John's dog Leila for longer walks, so that I can get more exercise, so that I won't have to go to the gym. Although I would like to go to the gym, I think that can be supplanted by using the local swimming pool, which I'd like to make a regular visitation, and also, I have weights and exercise equipment at home. The only thing I'd miss at the gym is the heavy boxing bag. If I do go back to the gym, I'll have to quit in four months, because of the courses I'll be taking in October. Also, I'll need to watch my diet. 

Also, I want to make a huge effort to quit smoking, this summer. The bloody things have gone up now to thirty pounds for a low-quality pouch of fifty grams. There's no way I can afford a hundred pounds a week smoking. Not only that, but my health would improve. I've quit before, and I liked it. I know I can do it again. 

Should I try to learn coding this summer? I've learnt a little, but there's nothing stopping me from having another go at making a website. I'll have a go, I think. 

What else; what else? 

Ah yes! I need to make some more music. I'd like to finish my bands next album, for which we already have five songs recorded. We need another seven or eight. Four of these can be done in one hit, once we've practiced them and/or written them, etc, and we record them. Then I have to get some more songs down, and that's the album done. Hopefully, it will be available by the end of the year. I'd love to play some more shows this summer, but that depends on whether the others are down for it. I hope so, and I hope some venue can book us. 

Also, last thing. I'd like to do some more writing. Having written one book, I have another on the way, and I need to type up what I have, and see what I can do about writing some more. Hopefully, good things will come from it. 

So, that's about it. I'm in summertime for me now, and I'm glad I've finished my "degree", but I'm also happy that I can still continue my studies. One more year of level two and three modules, and I can move onto level four. Happy times. 

Best wishes
Daniel

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Exams for S383 and MST326

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Exams are coming up. 

And not too soon, I can tell you. 

I have five days to organise myself for the S383 The Relativistic Universe exam, which I will open at twelve midnight on Tuesday night. There are things for which I am prepared, things for which I am not prepared, and things for which I will never be prepared even if I studied for another year. 

I hope to pass; I am desperate to pass. But I will never get a distinction - I'm not clever enough. And people say, "You're only as clever as you think you are!" But I don't think that's true. I know I have my limitations. I wish I were special at these things, but I'm not. There are people who are special; but I'm just not one of them. So I hope to pass, and I hope that we are given the questions which I can happily answer, such as those about tensors, and those about Schwarzschild metric, and those with simple plug and play equations. If I were keen (which I guess I am, but need motivation and inspiration to come from somewhere right now), then I'd sit down and work through the following: 

  • Special relativity - I'd work through several past paper question ones. 
  • Connection coefficients - I'd work out how many some metric or other contains - I'd work out why they equal zero in flat spacetime metrics. 
  • Riemann curvature tensor - I'd work out the derivation - I'd work out the manipulation. 
  • Einstein field equations - I'd work out some manipulations of these. 
  • Accretions discs - I'd brush up on knowledge about these.
  • Gamma ray bursts - I'd brush up on knowledge about these. 

I suppose that's only six things to work on. When it comes to actually doing the past paper exams, I know that this is what most students are doing: They are working through questions and honing their knowledge. I have not done as much. But nevertheless I feel almost ready. I feel that my mind will change, and my motivation will kick in the second I click onto the iCME81 link. I do feel ready, in a way, but I must take heed of these things I have written above, and spend Sunday, Monday and Tuesday thinking about these things. 

But this evening (Thursday 1 June), and Friday and Saturday, I must do my utmost to get on with writing down some equations for the MST326 exam which takes place in exactly one week. I must work through: 

  • Statics - by doing some past paper questions, or understanding their answers. 
  • The Chain rule - there's a section of a question, a step that I know I'll have difficulty with. 
  • Navier-Stokes equations. 
  • Div, grad and Curl. 
  • Some water waves. 
  • some other things. 
  • Mainly the chain rule...!!
  • Separation of variables and Fourier series. 
  • Fourier series actually!

Those are the main things to work on. Actually, as long as I have down the chain rule step that's been bothering me, I think I'll be alright. 

I have a revision session tomorrow in town, with two students from the module. We're meant to meet at Foyles in Charing Cross. But I'm not sure I'll make it. I woke up at eight o'clock this morning, had a cup of coffee, some breakfast and a cigarette, then fell back asleep until four o'clock in the afternoon. If I don't sleep tonight, there's no way I can wake up to go there tomorrow, now is there? But I do want to go. I want to ask them about these steps. 

So that's it then! This evening, and Friday, and Saturday, I will work through some past papers, writing down some answers, getting a feel for the questions, then Sunday to Tuesday I'll work through some Relativity, and that's that. 

There! What's to worry about!? 

Daniel
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Exams and thoughts about exams.

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I'll be honest with you, I'm kind of scared about the upcoming exams. 

I suppose I'm not alone, and I suppose that such a fear is natural to have. The fear is, exactly, that I have no idea if I'm going to pass or not. I really want to pass. And in fact I really want high marks. For the MS327 exams, so far, doing the practice exams, I haven't been fully successful. The problem is that, in OU exams, you're almost always surprised with a question that you don't know how to answer. The thing is that, with these problems, if I ever get to see the solution, I can easily follow it. My fear is that I won't be able to find a solution. 

What I'll have to do, in the main, is fudge my way through those surprising questions, employing the use of as many valid techniques as I can, even if I don't get the right answer. I think that's the difference between mere passing grades and distinctions. Those who get distinctions will always produce the correct answers. People who pass have often used the right techniques, or shown some insight into the solutions. 

Last night, as I was reading and studying through the books, I stumbled on a thought. It was a very refreshing and illuminating idea that - just as I had realised near the end of my very first year of higher education many years ago, that there is a difference between the uneducated person and the educated one - this level three study over the past year has led me to develop an even higher notion of educational level; that is, I felt like I could visualise the level of a Master of my subject. It was a surprising thought that led me to have a very nice night of dreaming. 

Of course, that idea has all but disappeared today. But the day draws on, and I am coming to my night-time period of study, and in thinking of ways to maximise my academic success, or at least my success in exams, I have asked myself, for example, for what do I want to learn Fourier Transforms? 

I searched Fourier transforms on Wikipedia earlier on, and the depth and complexity of the subject is just astounding. I should even have another look, to crystallise the ideas. But most of it was specialist doctorate level content, which I couldn't understand, to be honest. That's why I consider myself lucky that the OU provide such comprehensive material - that is, the material is consolidated and "basic", in the sense of an introduction. Everything you need to know to get started on a topic is there, and, even if you find the material abstruse or intractable, I find it at least satisfactorily terse, and one can peruse a paragraph several times and still not have got to the essence of the meaning. 

I suppose, that one reason why I would like to learn Fourier transforms, is to put them into practical use with science and so on - they have use, apparently, in quantum mechanics. But also, we use them in signal processing, and I imagine that would be the premise of an engineer, and I have no grounding in that. I hear they help transposing digital signals into analogue signals and vice versa. This might be useful in computer coding, if ever I was able to find talent in that area and music development. I admit, it might be a bit late in the day for me to pursue this avenue of academic research. Nevertheless, that is one practical reason to want to get good at Fourier transforms.  

All this mathematics, in fact, is very, very useful for the science that I want to pursue. Also, in future, I may like to think about electromagnetism as a course of study; I hear it can help you achieve a place on a masters of physics at the OU. Electromagnetism as well as quantum mechanics have uses for Fourier transforms. 

In any case, the techniques are worth knowing. My only bugbear is that I am not good enough at doing them!! I certainly could be, if I put my mind to it over the next two or three days. 

In fact, my plan of action is, over the next week and a day, is the following. 

  1. Work on MS327 past and specimen exam papers until Tuesday or Wednesday (ideally Tuesday), focussing on Fourier series and transforms, the diffusion equation and random walks. There is some content I could do with understanding better there. 
  2. On Wednesday I restart my revision of SM358 The Quantum World. I will do some more past exam paper questions, and glance over the relevant books once again. I need to revise spin, angular momentum, entanglement, ladder operators, and I will review the topics I know well, but concentrate on those I'm less good at. 
  3. From Wednesday to Monday, I will interpose SM358 revision with little bits of MS327 revision, just to keep it fresh, although my first exam is on the Monday night at 12 midnight (or 00:01 Tuesday morning). I will take the exam at this time, for it is peaceful, away from distractions, quiet, and also my mind will be lucid, having studied up and refreshed my knowledge earlier in the evening. I need not be too concerned about being awake at that time. I have been adjusting my sleeping pattern to accommodate this concern. 
  4. Monday night, 12:01 am (Tuesday morning, 00:01), I will take my SM358 exam. I will finish it in good time, having downloaded the appropriate programs needed for combining my scans into a single PDF file, and all will go off without a hitch. Hopefully. 
  5. Tuesday, 6:00 am, I will eat breakfast, and get some sleep, and continue on revision in the evening for MS327, and I will do this until the same time on Wednesday 8th June, and do the same for Thursday. However... 
  6. Thursday 9th June is the day prior to my MS327 exam. It will be made available at midnight (or 00:01 on the morning of Friday 10th June). I hope that the three days of revision leading up to it will be enough to ensure I pass. 

Obviously, I am going for the highest marks I possibly can. But when all is said and done, I will be happy pass. 

I have thought that, sufficient revision providing, the exams will have been designed so that a passing grade will be relatively straightforward to achieve. But to achieve a distinction, well, that would take something a bit more special. I hope I have that special thing. But I can only do my best. 

In any case, good luck to all who are taking exams this next month. May you all get the questions you wanted. May you all get the results you wanted. May you all at least pass your exams, and get onto the next stage of your lives, be that further study, a job, or satisfaction that you have another qualification. 

Best wishes, 
Daniel. 

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Some Thoughts About The Situation in Hand

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Hi, how are you? 

I'm blogging to crystallise some concerns I have with the situation about my upcoming exams, which are SM358 The Quantum World (on Tuesday 7 June) and MS327 Deterministic and Stochastic Dynamics (on Friday 10 June). 

Well, what can be said about this? First of all, I think it apt to say that the SM358 exam will be a touch more difficult than MS327. I say this because it seems evident that the questions we will be posed will be more apt to contain the unfamiliar, whereas with MS327 the situation will be more of a case of using the formulas we've learned. 

I have three weeks till the first exam. So my revision, having already begun in some form or other, must continue and continue with a more severe approach to intensity. For SM358 I must sit and complete several past papers, and complete the iCMA medleys, and also have a look at some of the additional exercises. 

My outstanding topics of which I need to study better are all those of book 3. I need to look at entanglement, perturbation theory, angular momentum, many-electron atoms, diatomic molecules, good quantum numbers, and the Linear Combination of Atomic Orbitals method, to name a few. I shall write a list of outstanding topics, and tick them off when I am confident. 

I feel like I can't have a repeat of last year. Although then I did do a lot of revision, I was unable to dig deep enough to get some of the more abstruse topics clear. And now, I have twelve hours a day for at least one week to do something about it. 

This blog should serve as a motivational enterprise. 

There are topics in which I feel I have a good grounding: Normalisation, operators, Schrodinger's equation, the sandwich integral rule, some Dirac notation, some Ehrenfest's theorem, some angular momentum, and some spin. But I should revise these topics nevertheless, and revise them well, by completing past papers. 

My MS327 exam should require at least one week of attempting to complete past papers. There is not a great deal with which I am concerned in this module, but I do need not to be complacent. That week is the week beginning 22nd May. Perhaps I will blog for more motivation closer to the time. But I would definitely be better off just doing the calculations. 

As with last year, my main source of revision should be that which is called "active" - that is, calculations, calculations, calculations! 

There are books I wish to review, however, they should be done in what would otherwise be my spare time, i.e. before bed, and so on. 

There is not much else to say about the matter. Calculation is key. Active study is the way! 

Wish me luck! (and good luck to all others doing exams!). 

Daniel xx

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