## Tuesday, 1 June 2010

### May

Well that's Uni over. I feel like making some concluding remarks about the thing so here goes. (Skip ahead to the ******* if you get bored of the physics)

So I did Physics. Sometimes I think Physics statements are just statements of the obvious. Like Newton's laws of motion... "Stuff's movement changes when you push it". That's basically all there is. F = ma, where F is the push, a is the change in movement (or acceleration) and m is just a constant. I look out my window and I can see loads of F=ma. Rain bouncing off peoples umbrellas, peoples feet pushing the world backwards, wheels on cars around round in an angular adaption, a brick's weight on other bricks which push back up due to electromagnetic interactions so there's no net push.

I think one of the main differences between physics and engineering is that physics is obsessed with the simple rules, whereas engineers look at more and more complicated examples of the rule.

There's a quite a lot of statements of the obvious, particularly thermal physics which somehow really confused me. The rule is like "cold things don't make hot things hotter". But the thing that makes such statements meaningful is that they are all testable. It's not like theology. Newton tested his law and so did a lot of other people. The tests worked and they saw that the rule was good... kinda... It doesn't work at really high speeds or really small scales.

My favourite stuff in the course was Quantum Mechanics, which is changes you need for small scale. The rules are still simple but they sound funny. Here's one: "To every observable there corresponds a hermitian linear operator that acts on the wavefunction of the system". An observable is something like position. So "position operator acting on the wavefunction of an electron" is a typical sum we would do in class. The answer to the sum is not where the electron is but where it is likely to be. That's the best you can do.

Where is the electron???
So in the picture the electron is likely to be around position 5, but it could be anywhere. The wavefunction contains all the information there is about the system. So even with all the information possible, you can only get a probability of where the electron is. The wavefunction is found by looking at by looking at boundary conditions, the limiting factors. What happens when you look directly at the electron itself? You find out where it is of course! I'm getting carried away a little bit here...

Gotcha

The most important part of it all is that before you look, there is absolutely no way of knowing where the particle is, which has some really crazy consequences. All the stuff you might've heard about things being in two places at once, alive and dead cats, quantum tunnelling and more.
It seems strange that there is no way of knowing, and you might wonder why that is the case. One of my favourite quotes from being an undergraduate is "Shut up and calculate!" from David Mermin, which helped me get to work on the problems and stop thinking about that kind of stuff, safe in the knowledge that no one knows what's going on.

*******

Uni in general has been great, in particular this last year where I've got to know all my class mates and had good fun. I maybe should've joined the mountaineering club but got the impression they were a bunch of bumblies. It could've been fun, but I reckon my 1st year trips with Danny where just as good. I'm remembering the Cobbler cave, Glen Coe, the Peak, Dunkeld, DWS festivals and Auchinstarry trips.

Most of my climbing time was spent at Dumby, and I'm so glad that I went there over climbing walls, even if it meant climbing less often. My first day there I almost died topping out an E1 on wet grass. That was the only time I've done trad there, which is a bit of a disaster! I remember sending sufferance with a preplaced beer at the top, walking back down that hill over and over after falling off consolidated all the time, doing Hoop with Ben being just good fun, falling off 2HB and landing on the tree, doing the Shield as a first Brit 7a, then lapping it, Pongo Sitter as the hardest and best thing I've climbed and Sabotage feeling easy. Other than the hard stuff, I don't regret just arsing around in good weather, even if I don't remember it as clearly.

At the end of exams I went to Torridon with Cath. Weather was mixed: we had sun, wind, rain, hail, snow, fog and midge weather. Made it up Beinn Alligin and Ben Eighe. Eating supernoodles under the triple buttress was a definite highlight...

In the evenings I went bouldering at the Celtic Boulders. I got quite into making patios and spent a lot of time doing that. One patio in particular was a work of art. It sits under an arete which initially had a terrible landing with knee deep cervasses between pointy boulders. I should've taken before and after photos, it really is something. I then climbed the arete from a sitter, which made a really good problem, like a mini Careless Torque, the crux is getting your foot up to start laybacking.

Up the slope from the ship, just below the crag I found a boulder which had a landing which needed a bit of patio-ing so got stuck in. The problem turned out to be a holdless slab which you could almost walk up - but not quite! At one point I was falling backwards on to the new landing but managed to swing my arms like propellers and regain balance. It reminded me of that wee slab at Burbage North, right of Remergance. That boulder also had a face problem and good arete.

One evening I tried to tick every possible problem on the Celtic boulders below 7a. I got about 30 done but reckon I was only half way. People around Glasgow sometimes ask if it's any good there and the answer I think is yes. There's still scope for "questing" but the stuff that's there will keep most people busy for the weekend.

They're all great problems. There's loads of easier stuff which isn't to be missed either. And if you do go questing, remember patio-ing is very time consuming!

#### 1 comment:

Pierre said...

That little foot slip at the top of Malcom's arĂȘte would have made a big splash haha.