Today was the last day of lectures in the first semester, hurrah. There’s something very satisfying about emptying out the teaching briefcase and filing the notes and overheads back on the bookcase until next year. (Yes, we have computers and data projectors in Waterford, but I still use overheads quite a bit). The students now have a study week followed by exams but for lecturers, it’s an ideal time to get back to research.
I’m frequently asked if WIT is a let down after Harvard, but I must say I enjoyed this semester no end. I taught maths (to 1st science), physics (to 1st engineering) and my ‘concepts in cosmology’ course to our physics students. I’m writing a book based on the latter so it was fun summarizing a chapter each week and presenting it in class as bullet points. After each lecture, I found myself rushing back to the office to rewrite a paragraph or re-jig an explanation – very satisfying!
Then there was the neutrino experiment; a superb opportunity for public lectures on relativity. Like almost all physicists, I expect this result is an anomaly because neutrinos are known to have a finite rest mass. I really enjoy explaining this in outreach lectures so long may the anomaly survive! The Trinity lecture was very satisfying, we got a great crowd including some very eminent physicists.
Now I have four weeks to work quietly on the book, uninterrupted by classes – what a job!
Meanwhile, rumours continue to circulate in the media about a possible sighting of the Higgs boson. I haven’t heard anything in physics circles so I’m betting it’s a false alarm based on a misunderstanding of the purpose of next week’s roundup meeting at CERN (see here for more on the rumours). Still, I’ll be keeping an eye on the news on Tuesday!