Festival season – week 46

PhD Life

Well, I can’t think of anything better to do with my Saturday morning, so I shall write my weekly weblog.

As I write this, it is day two of the Reading festival – I am aware that what I am about to tell you will expose my location, but I shall throw anonymity to the wind – and I live very close to the festival site, so for the last few days I have had a constant stream of taxis going past my house1. Reading festival, as far as I can tell, is a sixth-form convention.

I have been to the festival a few times, but as I live so close, I have never camped. I think you have to be 18and comfortable with no sleep for three days, to even consider camping at a festival. I enjoy live music less and less as time goes by, the whole shared experience thing is not for me. I am not even slightly jealous of anyone attending the festival.

I have heard a lot of people complaining the festival is less ‘rock-centric than it used to be. You hear this kind of thing all the time in music, it is very tribal, and people often attach their identities to the music they listen to.

My point is this, the demographics of the festival is clearly 18-year-old people having fun with their school friends before they leave for University. Clearly, It makes sense to aim the music at the people that are likely to be attending, and as there are fewer rock acts in the public eye, it makes sense that current 18-year-olds will prefer different music. Festivals go in and out of business like empires, well done to Reading for catering to there audience and therefore surviving. Okay, enough about a music festival, you have never heard of.

As has been the theme of me for the last few weeks I have spent a couple of days writing, I shall say no more on the subject it is not the time nor the place. The most interesting – I admit I am playing with the boundaries of the word ‘interesting’ here – the activity I did this week was to spend an entire day analysing the output from one of my experiments.

A quick recap.

We grew Rocket plants at different temperatures 20, 30 and 40°C to see how it affected the chemistry of the plants. You will have to take it from me, that the plants showed a wide variety of phenotypes across the different temperatures which is interesting in itself.

Now I am looking at the results from the chemical analysis. This required me to learn new software and techniques for analysing compounds. I have well over 200 different outputs each with 10 or so things inside I need to look at.

A lesser man would see this as a dull, repetitive task that adds no value to the development of me. I, however, see it as a great learning opportunity. Well, the first ten are a great learning opportunity, the rest is a rinse and repeat process that makes the Marvel universe look innovative2. I learnt how to confirm what an unknown compound I was looking at is. By searching for the output from the UV spectrum and matching that with the extracted ions, I could confirm what compounds I had In my sample.

In short, you look at the mass of the molecular ion and then compare that to the known retention of the compound, if they align you can be mostly sure the compound is correct3.

In summary, it was quite a repetitive week, but I did learn something new, and overall I would say it was a good week. I have had worse.

1. Rented apartment, thanks baby-boomers.

2. A character in the marvel universe is almost exclusively 2-d. They have a super power and hidden secret e.g. murdered parents.

3. Exclusions apply.

Published by Louis

Spend less than you earn, Invest the surplus, avoid debt. Eat food, not too much, mostly plants

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