Distraction From Midterms

By Joshua Bradley-Bevan (University of California Berkeley, USA)

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It has been exactly two months since I landed in the States, and I find myself finally writing my second post. This is mainly due to the fact that I have midterm examinations coming up and writing about what I have been up to is way more fun than going over physics problems.

At the end of September I secured a research position with my particle physics lecturer, so on Wednesdays and Thursdays I take the bus up the hill to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBL) to do physics things. It was a bit of a pain sorting out my government ID badge due to being a foreigner. Health insurance was another issue as I had to prove my insurance covered stuff like being blown up or growing a third arm from exposure to high radiation… the usual, of course.

I’m working on something called Neutrino Oscillations, which involves the transformation of different neutrinos to another, (there are electron, tau and muon neutrinos). More information can be found here for anyone that is interested. So far though, I have been learning how to program in python and becoming familiar with ROOT (data analysing software) to study the data that is coming from the Daya Bay reactor in China.

As of two weeks ago, I now have a surfboard! Currently I am using a 7’6” board to hopefully progress as I haven’t been surfing since the beginning of summer. Recently, I went to Pacifica with another exchange student who’s from Norway, then a week later I went surfing with one of the brothers from the fraternity which I’m still in the pledging process of.

Deciding to join a fraternity is one of the most fun experiences I’ve had so far. It’s connected me to people with similar interests and I’m sure that a lot of the brothers will become lifelong friends. It turns out that another exchange student from Manchester studying physics pledged with the same fraternity two years ago. I met Lars at a study abroad meeting and talked to him on the bus about studying abroad in general, but I never had any idea that he joined a fraternity, let alone the one that I ended up pledging with (Phi Kappa Psi). On top of that, each new member gets assigned a ‘big brother’ and it turns out that Lars and I have the same big brother… I don’t even know what the chances of that happening are, but there are about thirty fraternities and then probably fifty potential candidates for a big brother, so probably quite slim.

One of the fun additional courses I’m doing is something called Berkeley Connect. We essentially meet up for an hour a week to talk about physics related topics and eat free food which changes each week; we’ve had pizza, burritos, Chinese food… the great thing is that this counts for one academic unit.

Although it has been two months, the time has flown by quickly and I am now deciding what to do for the first two weeks of winter break. For the last two weeks, I should be going to Tahoe for two weeks to snowboard with the Ski and Snowboard Team here at Berkeley. This upcoming week will probably be the most intense week so far as I have three midterms: Electrodynamics, Quantum Mechanics and Particle Physics. It looks like I will be taking my first midterm in less than ten hours, so hopefully all goes well!

(Posted on October 20th)

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