Ah yes. The dark side of studying.

As I write this post it’s 2:44 in the morning. The reason I’m still up and studying is due to poor scheduling and not always having my priorities straight. It sucks, but I try and see it as a learning experiences. Everyone makes mistakes and thus I do too. All-nighters are not as glamorous as people make them up to be, but in the end if you focus hard enough and make sure you catch up with all the sleep deprivation, they can be real lifesavers.

Going back to studying now.

Some thoughts on studying Physics (at university)

I recently graduated from Exeter University with a physics degree and you know what?

It was hard. Like, really hard. Regular homeworks and midterms (more like quarter-terms in first year) and lab reports practically every week for the first two years, and tutorials and classes and lectures, and then exams on top… I had more contact hours than like, half my house combined. And I lived with seven other people.

It was tough.

(Note: Brace yourselves, dear readers. This post turned out to be a doozy.)

I did not graduate with excellent grades across the board. In my my third year I worked my butt off. Sometimes I struggled with the content and I spent a lot of time going over my lecture notes and working on labs or homeworks. Maybe I should’ve studied Further Maths at A-Level (yes, yes I should have, but I do not regret studying French and Spanish instead and I am so happy I studied those subjects).

I got some really awesome grades. Mostly in lab projects or presentations, but I also did really well in my C programming module and my Galaxies module, to name a few. Actually, if I hadn’t got a place on a graduate scheme, I had a place to study a Masters in Computer Programming at Cardiff. Which I might go back to do some day. I think I’d like to.

And on the other hand… I loved my Nuclear and High Energy Physics module. Like, it was one of my favourites of everything I studied. It was majorly focused on particle physics (which I love). But you know what? I didn’t do so great in that exam. And it’s still my favourite module. I got a lot of the content, but I struggled with the exam.

So maybe I didn’t get as good a grade as some of my friends from physics. Maybe I’d have graduated with a First-class degree if I had done languages instead, which I seem to be pretty decent at. Or, seemed, at any rate, when I was studying them.

I do not, for one single second, regret any of it.


I mean, sure, I made awesome friends, and had a great uni experience, but I mean that I don’t regret my choice of degree. It might not show up in my grades necessarily but I learned a lot. I can talk you through the whole lifecycle of stars and explain how we are all, in some way, made of stardust (because that’s something I see talked about online a lot). I can tell you what a quark is and what wave-particle duality actually means. I can differentiate the hell out of Schrodinger’s equation and tell you what it all means.

I built a cloud chamber with my lab partner, H (you should totally check out cloud chambers – they’re an old school way of viewing particles and they’re generally amazing), and we studied half a dozen butterfly wings (most of which we broke, oops) to understand why they look blue sometimes and not-blue other times. (Yay particle physics!)

Besides the whole academia stuff, I also had the chance to speak at the Institute of Physics to talk about gender bias is subjects with a particular focus on physics. Which was really, really awesome.

So yes, maybe I didn’t graduate with an outstanding academic record. And maybe I spent a lot of time, like seemingly everyone else on my course, complaining about all the work and all the hours and how hard some of the exams were. But does that in any way diminish my love of physics? Of knowing and understanding how the universe works and why it works that way?


Plus, I graduated with some amazing experiences behind me. Working independently and as a group, analysing large chunks of data, being innovative and organised and dedicated… These were all skills that I was able to hone throughout my degree. And I did some book-stuff in my first and second years, speaking at events and having things published and being up for awards. (I tried to take third year off from all of that.)

Besides that, science is just so freaking awesome and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to study such an incredible and diverse subject. I’m so grateful that I was able to do that.

I was the only girl in my A-Level physics class and there was a huge male bias at degree level. Past that, I think I had two female lecturers in three years. Which is crazy. Only two!

Throughout my studies in physics I was always very aware of the fact that it’s a male dominated area. As are most STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) areas. When I said to people that I studied physics, I was more often than not told, “there must be a lot of boys doing that” or “there can’t be many girls on your course.”

And honestly I feel like those kind of attitudes in themselves are hugely damaging, even if it’s unintentional. Gendering subjects is damaging. It impacts and influences young people even if it’s on a subconscious level, to the point where it stops people progressing any further just because they don’t think they’re supposed to do or supposed to like that subject.

(When I spoke at the IOP, it was about gender bias, focusing on A-Level subjects and typical ‘male’ or ‘female’ subjects, like Physics and English. So I have some thoughts on this, but I’m trying not to go on too much.)

After GCSEs I was confident enough in myself to own up to who I was. I was a nerd and I liked writing and I liked physics. I didn’t care if people thought I was ‘cool’ or not. Actually, I knew I wasn’t ‘cool’. I just didn’t care. I was happy. I made good friends who were also ‘not cool’ and who liked things.

So I decided to do an A-Level in physics despite people saying, “Oh. That’s a boy’s subject/nerdy/weird.”

When I said I was going to apply for a physics degree, I was met with a similar response. Not from my family, necessarily (although they did think I’d be better doing languages), but also some teachers and other people I spoke to.

They were all surprised. People are still surprised that I didn’t study English because I’m a writer. And, you know – “Did you find many girls studied physics?”

I was confident in who I was, enough to say, “Yes! I’m studying physics! I think it’s cool and I want to learn more!” But a lot of sixteen year olds – even eighteen year olds – aren’t that confident in themselves. They will hear people gender a subject like that and think, oh, maybe that’s not for me, then.

That’s what I heard.

I just ignored it.

Look, this isn’t a post saying, hey, you should like science because it’s cool and interesting and therefore you should devote all your time to it! Science doesn’t have to be your thing.

It’s okay if it is! It’s totally awesome if science is your thing, or other branches of STEM like computer science and programming, or maths, or engineering, regardless of your gender. Because the world always needs more scientists and what’s so bad about being a science geek, really?

But my point is – you don’t have to just have one thing. You can be a lot of things and you can like a lot of things. And sure, maybe you’re not always ‘good’ at certain things, but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying them and wanting to learn more. I mean, if you pick up a guitar and you’re not much good, that’s cool. You can keep practicing and learning and maybe eventually you will play shows. Or maybe you’ll just play and you’ll be decent enough but not that proficient but you’ll just like playing. And that’s okay too. Enthusiasm matters.

And honestly, I don’t see what’s wrong with that.

P.S. I wrote this post after watching Hank Green’s video about Why Are Fewer People Studying Science and Engineering over at the Vlogbrothers channel, and I’d love to know how you guys feel about science (especially physics), and I’m kind of curious to know if you ever felt like you couldn’t study a subject because you weren’t ‘supposed’ to, for some reason or other?

Learn about them at these sources:

1. Pythagora’s Theorem

2.  Logarithms

3. Calculus

4. Law of Gravity

5. The Square Root of -1 (a more detailed look into it)

6. Euler’s Formula for Polyhedra

7. Normal Distribution

8. Wave Equation

9. Fourier Transform

10. Navier-Stokes Equation

11. Maxwell’s Equations

12. Second Law of Thermodynamics

13. Relativity

14. Schrodinger’s Equation

15. Information Theory

16. Chaos Theory

17. Black-Scholes Equation

Read the material before going to class. This method is known as the “flipped classroom” and is becoming very popular. It seems to be particularly useful in Chemistry. Students should study lessons before going to class, allowing students to follow the class much easier.

Master the basics. Scientific subjects can be based on a number of central theories from which everything else follows (especially Chemistry and Physics). Learn the basic concepts and theories to help you understand connections with more complicated material.

Strengthen your maths skills. Review mathematics as you’re studying because it can be central (especially Physics).

Learn the terminology. If you want to understand what you’re studying, you need to familiarise yourself with the key terminology. One way to do this is to try and break complex words down to identify their roots (e.g. adrenal can be broken down into ad / renal meaning above the kidneys).

Go from the general to the specific. Master the general concepts before trying to tackle specific ones. Study everything thoroughly before moving on to the next level. Mindmaps are especially useful in moving from the general to the specific, particularly about processes and relationships.

Practice. If you use a lab, put theory into practice as often as you can. You can test hypotheses and prove your theories. It’s also likely to make things more memorable if you perform them in this way.

Draw. Use drawings to understand concepts and information that would be difficult to define adequately in words.

Use flashcards. Scientific subjects are often full of symbols, and definitions. Flashcards are great for organising and storing this information, and let you test yourself and other people.

Practice answering exam questions. Past papers should be available from your teachers and are an invaluable resource when it comes to studying. Know the format of the exam, and how long you’ll have to finish it. As you get more comfortable with the exams, try practising them under timed conditions.

Understand rather than memorise. When you study, you should focus on understanding the concepts rather than memorising every detail. Memorisation shouldn’t replace understanding.

Patterns of taxonomic and morphological diversification in early ray-finned fishes.

Ray-finned fishes (Actinopterygii) is the most species rich class of vertebrates, and by far the most dominant type of ’fish’ in both marine and non-marine environments. In the figure above you can see how the proportion of ray-finned fishes increases within fossil ‘fish’ faunas, from a low proportion during the Devonian, then steadily increasing during the Carboniferous and Permian until reaching the currently-held point of dominance during the Triassic.

Friedman, M., 2015. The early evolution of ray-finned fishes. Palaeontology, 58(2), pp.213–228. DOI: 10.1111/pala.12150

Mathematics is not merely a physical science that can give us evidence without experimentation, but it is also the sole language of the Universe. Consider this; If we were to ever stumble upon an intelligent species other than our own, mathematics would be the only manner in which we we could communicate with them. It is after all the most objective aspect of science.

Its not just a significant subject but also a boundlessly beautiful one. All you have to do is briefly read about great minds such as Archimedes, Eratosthenes, Calavieri and Lui hui to know what i’m talking about it. These brilliant beings came up with elegant yet extraordinary equations that could effortlessly break down the universe around us and give us human beings a predictive power like never before. One can write volumes about the beauty of mathematical proof.

Maybe, if we high school students we’re told this in our math classes, we would take it much more seriously.

Space object differences:

  • Comet: A comet is a relatively small solar system body that orbits the Sun. When close enough to the Sun they display a visible coma (a fuzzy outline or atmosphere due to solar radiation) and sometimes a tail. It is composed of rocky material, ice, and gas. It comes from the Kuiper Belt and Oort Cloud. In summary, they are a relatively small, at times active, object whose ices can vaporize in sunlight forming an atmosphere (coma) of dust and gas and, sometimes, a tail of dust and/or gas.
  • Asteroid: Asteroids are small solar system bodies that orbit the Sun. Made of rock and metal, they can also contain organic compounds. Asteroids are similar to comets but do not have a visible coma (fuzzy outline and tail) like comets do. They range in size from a tiny speck to 500 km wide; most asteroids originate in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Asteroids are believed to be debris left over from the formation of the solar system, and some even have their own moons. In summary, they are a relatively small, inactive, rocky body orbiting the Sun.
  • Meteoroid: A meteoroid is a small rock or particle of debris in our solar system. They range in size from dust to around 10 metres in diameter (larger objects are usually referred to as asteroids). Astronomers believe that meteoroids are rocky chunks that have broken off asteroids and planets. In summary, they are a small particle from a comet or asteroid orbiting the Sun.
  • Meteor: A meteoroid that burns up as it passes through the Earth’s atmosphere is known as a meteor. If you’ve ever looked up at the sky at night and seen a streak of light or ‘shooting star’ what you are actually seeing is a meteor. In summary, they are the light phenomenon which results when a meteoroid enters the Earth’s atmosphere and vaporizes; a shooting star.
  • Meteorite: A meteoroid that survives falling through the Earth’s atmosphere and colliding with the Earth’s surface is known as a meteorite. They’re a solid piece of debris that was originally an asteroid or a comet that entered the atmosphere and survived to impact the surface. Prior to impact, they are called meteoroids and become meteors when they fall through the planets atmosphere. In the process, they are heated to incandescence by air friction and form a bright trail, leading to the creation of a fireball or “shooting star”. In summary, they are a meteoroid that survives its passage through the Earth’s atmosphere and lands upon the Earth’s surface.

science/visions winter 2014 lookbook by Domino dollhouse

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I swoon!

That is how I felt once I got a peek of the new { Science/Visions } winter 2014 Domino Dollhouse lookbook!  The collection is dramatic, clean, modern, dark & intriguing.  Definitely after my heart!

Here are a few of my favourite pieces and editorial photos: {all images courtesy of Domino Dollhouse}

From Domino Dollhouse:

For our Winter 2014 collection, we wanted to focus on 2 things: fashion and wearability. Inspired by movies like
Bladerunner and Tron, we wanted to offer something the plus size community had never seen before. For our
Science/Visions collection, we are offering a taste of everyday luxury in a way that is anything but basic. We
focused on luscious, soft stretch jerseys and added edge-y accents, such as faux stretch suede and perforated
pleather. These pieces are perfect for everyday wear…the ultimate in cool comfort. This entire collection was
Made in the USA by a plus size woman-owned factory and the quality is superb. The Science/Visions pieces are
available in sizes 1X-4X and range from $35-140. The collection will be launched on 11.14.14.

What do you guys think??  I absolutely adore the palette and the textures look lux and edgy!  I’d love to get my hands on a few pieces, specifically the moon leggings, that silky looking purpley grey crop tee, the geometric print maxi set and that jacket with the perforated faux leather!

As I said… I swoon! 

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