fun section. For
some light relief, try
clicking on any of these links to some amusing websites that I've
found on my surfing travels. Page Down if you want to read a
light-hearted piece that I wrote whilst I was a postgraduate student..
A BIT OF FUN
If you have a burning desire to find out about mad inventions like
nappies for parrots and washing machines powered by car wheels, then
of Obscure Patents
is for you!
Anyone up for a challenge might want to head for the wonderfully
Exhausted researchers may appreciate the Cooper
Toons Science Cartoons site
. (Please note this is not
If you've never seen the funny side of University mathematics, then Mathematical
could be just what you need.
Physics World, November 1995, page 84.
Physics and the
Sharon Ann Holgate
I have noticed over the last few years
how it has
become increasingly fashionable for people to air their private
confessions on television chat shows. Indeed, we have now gone one
stage further and turned it into prime time entertainment. I, however,
have decided to make my own confession to a more select audience.
It all started quite innocently - as most
My choice of third-year project led me into the cathodoluminescence
laboratory. There he was, in the corner. Tall, grey, distinguished.
Together we had the potential to produce some amazing results.
Unfortunately, with my being young and inexperienced in these matters,
neither of us quite received the satisfaction we were looking for, and
we eventually parted company.
However, soon after beginning my PhD, I
introduced to his friend, who was in the thermoluminescence laboratory.
Younger, and with a more athletic appearance, I was instantly attracted
to him. This time, he was almost all dark, with only the odd bits of
grey here and there. After a few very tentative encounters, true love
blossomed and we began an affair.
To begin with he was very awkward. I
wasn't at all
sure how I should approach him, and the slightest mistake on my part
would incur the full wrath of his anger. It became quite normal for me
to go home of an evening, feeling as though I had achieved nothing that
day, having spent the whole time dealing entirely with his changeable
Talking to friends and relatives didn't
seem to help
much. They couldn't understand why I would want to continue a
relationship that was making me so unhappy. Fortunately, a couple of
colleagues at work, who had been in exactly the same situation
themselves, came to my rescue. They told me that while I shouldn't rush
into a serious relationship, particularly as we worked in the same
place, if I really felt that I could eventually get something good out
of it I should take my time and things would be fine.
I took their advice and decided not to
pack my bags.
Day after day I gradually perfected how to handle him. I discovered
that all he really needed was some tender loving care. At first I
assumed he shut himself off from the outside world out of malicious
intent, but soon realized it was usually due to his having suffered
some form of injury, and therefore being unable to work to his full
potential. This seemed to upset him, and on particularly bad days I
even heard cries of anguish coming from the lab. Although his friends
in the workshop usually tend to be more of a comfort than me on these
occasions, I do try my best to help.
What about the positive side of our
may sound big-headed, but I feel that I help to make his existence
worthwhile. In return, he gives me wonderful presents. I know I
shouldn't be too materialistic, but these are beautiful pictures, often
with a hidden meaning. And although it can take quite some time to
realize what the hidden message is, it's fun trying to find out.
Our relationship has also helped me to
personally. I have become more patient, and have realized that I cannot
always control what happens in the future. We now work very well
together, and in a spirit of co-operation we have even managed to
accomplish some good work. However, I do tend to find that I seem to
get left having to do all the interpretation and writing-up of our
work, while he gets on with the practical side of things. I don't mind
too much, but it would be useful if he could help me to think
sometimes. It would also help if he was more thorough, and didn't just
stop what he was doing in the middle of sample runs - but these are
However, there is one major problem that
I feel less
able to deal with. He is unfaithful to me. I know it for a fact. It was
the little things that were out of place that first led me to suspect
someone else was spending time in my shoes. Somehow I'll have to find
it in my heart to forgive him, because he means so much to me. In fact,
when I was unwell for a few weeks earlier this year and unable to see
him, I was amazed how much I missed him humming away in the corner of
I think the main reason for the enduring
our relationship is that, unlike a lot of partners, he doesn't answer
me back. It is also very easy for me to keep him happy - massaging in
the odd bit of oil or grease seems to work wonders. I don't even have
to put up with him ringing me up when I'm in the middle of
working/washing my hair/having a bath, and if I don't want to see him
for a week he doesn't moan about it.
The only thing the thermoluminescence
seem to have in common with his human male counterparts is an ability
to soak up money on the latest technological gadgetry. I hope he enjoys
having the new closed-circuit TV my supervisor has just bought him. At
least in this case it's something I can benefit from too.
Copyright IOP Publishing Ltd