09 December 2015

Wet and Windy in England

I've been slow to keep up my blog writing, especially as it pertains to my sabbatical experiences.  Late 2015 here in South Yorkshire has seen lots of wind and rain.  We have rarely found a day in the past month that we've not felt at least a little mist on our faces.  People north of us have had it much worse with Storm Desmond causing lots of flood damage.  For all the rain and wind, it's great being in Sheffield as holiday time approaches.  The city centre is decorated and fun to see at night when I'm on a bus headed for home after work. With the sun setting before 4 pm now, it's always night when I leave work!

A torn muscle in my left calf has kept us from doing much travelling of late.  Before the tear, my girls and I toured Shepherd Wheel, which is quite close to where we live.  Kudos to the woman (a volunteer?) we met there because she gave us lots of great information.  The wheel makes use of water that's been dammed from the Porter Brook.  I took the photo below on Sunday, 15 November 2015 (click on the image for a larger view).
The wheel is 18 ft (5.5 m) in diameter.  The large shaft through the wheel sends lots of kinetic energy into the building that's used for various grinding work.  It's great watching energy conversions in action!

Walking to Shepherd Wheel took us through Endcliffe Park, which is our wonderful local park.  The photo below shows the Porter Brook in Endcliffe Park, downstream from the Shepherd Wheel (click on the image for a larger view).
Wet weather could not distract from the natural beauty in the park.

This past Sunday, which was 6 December 2015, my family visited the 23rd Victorian Christmas Market at Kelham Island Museum.  That was a lot of fun!  We saw people dressed as Dickens characters, heard great bagpipe music and Christmas songs, and visited many shopping stalls.  I couldn't resist getting a fine pint while I was there and a jar of lemon curd to take home.  My younger daughter snapped the photo below of some reindeer at the market (click on the image for a larger view).
Some of the fine singers we heard are seen in the photo below (click on the image for a larger view).
It was a fun day to be out with family and denizens of Sheffield as we enjoyed a little holiday cheer.

Sabbatical research continues to stimulate my mind and keep me busy.  As a clumsy theoretical physicist who is more comfortable writing code and using a pencil and paper than tinkering in a lab, I am continually amazed by the ingenuity of people with experimental and engineering training.  Lots of what we do on a piece of paper takes for granted just how hard it is to build and measure what we're scribbling on that paper.  I take great joy in seeing what clever people construct to allow for precise measurements.

I am also enjoying the one hour per week I get to teach.  I volunteered to teach one of the second-year tutorials for the physics department.  My eight students are great and I enjoy interacting with them each week.  They see an enormous amount of material, so much that I wonder if being exposed to that much material is truly effective.  Just two days ago, I talked to my students about Lagrange's equations in mechanics, non-inertial forces, the infinite square well in quantum mechanics, and Born's interpretations of the wave function.  It's out of this world fun for me because I can yap about many areas of physics, but it's a lot for my students to digest.

Holiday break commences on Saturday, 19 December 2015.  Lots of research work to do before then!

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