The Next Three Weeks

Busy day today, getting ready for tomorrow’s return to teaching. The year’s second semester is always a strangely fragmented affair because of the Easter hiatus. We teach for eight weeks from late January until late March, have three weeks off for Easter, and then return to teach another three weeks before a brief revision period and, then, the examinations. It’s an awkward business, that gap.  There’s also quite a danger of missing lectures later on, if you happen to be teaching on a Monday, owing to the Spring Bank Holiday. I lose a lecture in that way,  for my first year module Astrophysical Concepts, although it’s only in revision week so I’m not going to be struggling for time. I hope.

I’ve organized my first year lectures (if “organized” is the right word!) in four sections and managed to make sure I finished three of them, representing areas covered by three of the four questions in the forthcoming examination, before the break. Now I just have half-a-dozen  lectures on cosmology to get through, so this bit should be reasonably self-contained and it won’t matter too much if the students have forgotten the other three parts I did before Easter.

I’ve also got my third-year particle physics lectures to finish off in this period, so it’s going to be quite a busy three weeks. Still, I’ll have plenty to distract me from the General Election campaign which will cover pretty much the same period. Polling day is May 6th, and my last (revision) lecture will be on May 7th.

Another curiosity about Cardiff’s calendar is that we only get three weeks for Easter. I seem to remember it’s usually been four weeks in the other places I’ve worked. One of the downsides of this is that we’re back to term-time while the annual National Astronomy Meeting is going on. This moves around from year to year, and this time is in the splendid city of Glasgow. I’d like to have gone, and would have done if I hadn’t had so much teaching concentrated in this period. Regrettably I’ll have to give it a miss this year.

Anyway, I was getting my notes together this afternoon, sitting in the April sunshine among the new flowers and listening to the birds singing. Completely by accident I came across this little quote from Johannes Kepler, translated from the Mysterium Cosmographicum, which I thought I’d share with you…

We do not ask what useful purpose the birds do sing, for song is their pleasure since they were created for singing.  Similarly, we ought not to ask why the human mind troubles to fathom the secrets of the heavens…  The diversity of the phenomena of Nature is so great, and the treasures hidden in the heavens so rich, precisely in order that the human mind shall never be lacking in fresh nourishment.

4 Responses to “The Next Three Weeks”

  1. Russell Smith Says:

    “I’ve organized my first fear lectures” — Sounds great. Do you get many students enrolling for that course…?

  2. telescoper Says:

    I was trying to scare them off. Thanks for spotting the terror. Sorry, error.

  3. I’ve been teaching GR for the last 4 weeks, and start masters level nuclear stability tomorrow, while at the same time trying to write applications to get a research only fellowships and observing proposals – exhausted.

    Roll on sabbatical in July!!!!

  4. telescoper Says:

    Actually I just realised I won’t miss a lecture, as the Bank Holiday is in the 4th week, which is the revision period. Silly me. I get the full 6 lectures of cosmology then. Joy.

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