Archive for Robert Simpson

The Day’s Events

Posted in Biographical with tags , , , on April 21, 2010 by telescoper

Just a quick post today, because I’m worn out. Today was Cardiff University’s Open Day – not the small-scale one’s we have from time to time in the School of Physics & Astronomy, but a full-blown university-wide affair. The School is in the Queen’s Buildings, which are a little way to the East from the splendid civic buildings in the Cathays Park district of the city centre that constitute the core of the University. Naturally the organizers tend to concentrate on showing off it’s finer buildings, so many activities are centred on the posher parts, and often we don’t get that many visitors in our building especially if it’s raining and visitors don’t fancy the 15 minute walk. Today, however it was gloriously sunny and even the Physics department was packed with visitors, prospective students and their parents.

I’d agreed some time ago to give a public talk as part of the School’s activities, which meant that this morning I had a tutorial, an undergraduate lecture and a public lecture all one after the other. I was very surprised when I got to the venue for my open day talk to find it was absolutely full, with standing room only. By lunchtime I was already knackered, although the public talk was a lot of fun and the audience were very attentive and friendly. Some of them even laughed at my jokes. I got lots of questions at the end, which I always enjoy, although I was flagging by then after talking more-or-less continually for three hours.

This afternoon it was someone else’s turn to do the talking. It was the occasion of the PhD examination of Rob Simpson (orbitingfrog) for which I was Chair. Cardiff is unusual in having a Chair for PhD oral exams, as well as internal and external examiners. The Chair acts as a kind of umpire, making sure the rules are followed, but doesn’t play a very active role other than that. In fact I had the chance to chip in here and there – chiefly on matters of statistics – but also managed to get the Guardian crossword done.

I won’t talk about the substance of the examination, but it suffices to say that the examiners recommended that he be awarded the PhD subject to some corrections being made to his thesis. No doubt he’s out on the town celebrating as I type. Well done, Rob!

I got away just in time to go an collect my Tuxedo from the dry cleaners on the way home. It being good weather I thought I’d wear it for Friday’s annual Chaos Ball. I don’t know how widespread this usage is, but in Britain I’ve always thought the word Tuxedo refers to the white (or cream)  alternative to a traditional dinner jacket. That’s what I meant, anyway. I bought mine years ago in an Oxfam shop in Nottingham and hardly ever wear it, but it’s nice to push the boat out every now and again. Although it was bought second-hand about 8 years ago it still looks quite posh. Apart from the bullet hole in the back you would never have guessed it had been worn before…