Glasshouse challenge – week 39 as a PhD student.

Note: this was written three months ago, as were all my posts.

As I sit here writing this, it is one of the hottest summers I can remember, and England are about to play Sweden in the world cup; there is a lot of potential for this to be one of those talked about summers for years to come.

I have managed to complete two days of what I am going to call the glasshouse challenge. What is this challenge? Well, for my project I am monitoring how the colour of plants change over time. To monitor the plants I need to take pictures of them, which means I need a lightbox. The lightbox resides in the glasshouses at the university – I haven’t had any time to move it.

I have spent about six hours on each of the two days that I was photographing the plants in 38°C heat. For an Englishman, this is the approximate temperature of hell. Because I was using my phone as a remote trigger for the camera – the lightbox has to be hermetically sealed, so no outside light interferes with the image – I needed a complicated charging/cooling system.

Towards the end of the shoot, my phone would run out of battery, so I needed to charge it. The problem with this is that it overheated! To remedy this, I wrapped some Ice in some tissue paper and laid my phone on top of that; it was a highly sophisticated solution, perhaps It will get published in Nature?

One positive from my time in hell is that I am now able to withstand this relatively mild 30°C heat with ease, whilst my girlfriend won’t even let me near her as I am ‘too hot’. She has been severely crippled by the heat and spends most of her time sleeping on the sofa.

I have spent a lot of time trying to find out what chemicals I need for my experiments and how much they are going to cost me. Provisioning for myself is something I did not expect to have to do at the start of my PhD, partially because of the undergraduate experience, my expectation was that I would turn up to some room and say I need x and they would hand it over.

It turns out; this is not the case, you have to buy absolutely everything yourself as if you are a member of the general public buying research chemicals for personal use. Maybe this is different at different universities, but here it is every man/women (mostly women) for themselves.

For the first time in roughly 15 years, I am excited to watch a game of football. I have not seen this level of shared excitement throughout the nation before, not even during the 2012 Olympics in London.

It really goes to show how popular football is here in the UK and Europe. I realise that most of the readers of this blog are American, and when I say football, In American that would be soccer. American sport is fascinating in many ways. Americans have many unique sports that are almost exclusive to America, American football, basketball, baseball etc. Of course, they are not exclusive to America, but they might as well be as I don’t know any other nation that takes those sports seriously.

Imagine if America competed in sports that the rest of the world did! Due to the size of the population, I imagine they would win most competitions, making the country even more popular. I may write about this subject at some point as it is fascinating.

World class procrastination – FIFA world cup

A sporting event has got in the way of me writing a post this week, and it was for a sport I don’t usually care about. However, this world cup has felt different, I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it did feel different. Looking through social media, it seems everyone other English-man/woman seems to feel the same.

A sporting event has got in the way of me writing a post this week, and it was for a sport I don’t usually care about. However, this world cup has felt different, I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it did feel different. Looking through social media, it seems everyone other English-man/woman seems to feel the same.

Usually, I have little respect for football, amongst many things, the player’s attitudes towards fair play have been a problem for me. I guess this a side effect of the ridiculous salaries and pressure; however, it might be the culture. I used to be very keen on the game until rugby came into my life around age twelve, since that day I have been a rugby fan – as an aside we found out today that we did not get tickets to the rugby world cup in Japan, it has been a sad day for English sport, and my spectating of it.

Anyway, I really enjoyed the atmosphere that has been hanging in the air around the country this year and based on history; It will not happen again until I am in my mid-50s. I have seen one world cup victory for rugby, but I am uncertain as to whether I will witness a win in football, I indeed won’t hold my breath, but you will want to be in England if it does happen as I imagine it will be the biggest party the country has ever seen no exaggeration.

I hope you all had an enjoyable evening and good luck to France and Croatia in the final.