College was interesting - we crunched most of Astrophysics into the session. Mind you, since my notes include references to Sliders (TV series) and Counter Earth (from Marvel comics), I don't think they'd mean much to anyone other than me! Oh, speaking of which, an interesting thing happened last week. We just started Astrophysics on Tuesday morning (intensive course, this one), which included a description of main sequence stars on the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram. That evening, I decided to re-read Pyramids (Pratchett novel), since I hadn't read it for quite a while. On page 1, you had the traditional description of how large A'Tuin is, and this book included the phrase "The only turtle large enough to show up on the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram". I've read that book several times, and that's the first time I've actually known enough to understand that joke!
Anyway, moving on, I had an email back from the MSc people at Kings - looks like my prod did the trick. Very encouraging actually - they said that although they normally want a 2:1, I should still apply, because my work experience looks relevant. Also, I was browsing the Kings website again, and found an interesting thing. Previously, I'd gone to the Computing department's site, then to the postgrad section, which had various pages about the MSc courses. Today, I went to the main Kings site, then the postgrad section, *then* the Computing section, which gave me a different set of pages about the same MSc courses! Helpful... Anyway, whereas at Imperial you have to apply by May, then they get back to you in due course once they've considered all the applications, Kings do it differently. They say that if they make you an offer it will normally be within one month of your application, and they receive applications until mid-September, or until the course is full. So, it sounds like a "first come, first served" situation, rather than "we'll wait to get all the applications, then choose the best from them". Since I was recommended to apply, that presumably means that there are still spaces left, so I'm in with a shot here. The main question is who I should ask to act as referees (I need two references), so I've emailed the MSc people back to ask for advice. It's a choice of:
a) The Durham lecturers. They know about my undergrad CompSci degree, but it's been almost seven years since I graduated, and I haven't seen them since.
b) My Physics teachers at Barnet. They've seen me recently, but it's only an A-level course, and not Computing.
c) The partners at work. They know me (I've been there almost 3 years), and my abilities, but they're not academic.
Anyway, with luck I'll get a reply back tomorrow, so I should be able to get the application all sorted out by the end of next week.
Then had a good evening in the flat, with one of those excessively random conversations. It all started when I was discussing tunnel pressures with Michael on IRC, since I've just been reading "A Transatlantic Tunnel, Hurrah!" (Harry Harrison), and I didn't understand how water could be under pressure if it didn't compress (it turns out that it does slightly, and energy levels are important). Anyway, he wound up coming downstairs to discuss it in person, and Lorna came out of her room to join in - she offered some helpful comments by analogy to water bombs! After this, we moved onto the alternate world depicted in the novel, which included the Spanish recognising the Incas as a sovereign nation. Lorna then mentioned the effect of smallpox on the natives, which led onto a big discussion of diseases/vaccines. At this point Michelle wandered down to see what was going on, and we all wound up camping out on the stairs for about two and a half hours, with many ranging subjects... It was fun, although I think we need to decamp to sofas next time!