frith_in_thorns: (Neal 1)
Hello LJ. Let me share my exam paper from today with you, which I'm totally counting as #8 on my #100things list. (I would tell you to think of it as a birthday present, but I'm not quite that bad a friend.)

For context: You answer two questions in the three hours. This whole exam paper is brand-new: we're the lucky year who get to be guinea-pigs to see whether it works. As such, there were no mock papers, no one knew any guidelines, and we've been explicitely told that the examiners have no model answers to compare ours against. FUN.

1. Are all taxa successful?
2. What benefits will new technologies bring to our understanding of biology?
3. If life exists on other planets, what features would you expect it to share with life on Earth?
4. What is the most significant scientific challenge now facing biology, and why?
5. Will biology become more reductionist as knowledge increases?
6. What role do parasites and pathogens play in biology?
7. Is an understanding of statistical methods essential for biologists?
8. Are all species doomed to extinction?
9. How do organisms respond to stress and how are these responses similar across taxa?
10. Is homeostasis an essential attribute of living things?
11. Are organisms well-designed?
12. What is the evidence for evolution?

So yeah XD (I answered #4 and #8.)

Then I went and hung around in the botanic gardens with Conrad and Seb and Seb's brother where I did a lot less revision than they did and ate strawberries. So that was very nice and de-stressing :)

Only two days left. I CAN DO THIS.
frith_in_thorns: An open black umbrella with small red hearts falling out of it (.Love)
#8
Mason placed rats in a Plexiglass pen with two cages: in one was another rat, in the other was a pile of five milk chocolate chips—a favorite snack of these particular rodents. The unrestricted rats could easily have eaten the chocolate themselves before freeing their peers or been so distracted by the sweets that they would neglect their imprisoned friends. Instead, most of the rats opened both cages and shared in the chocolate chip feast.

"In our lab we called it the 'chocolate versus pal' experiment," Mason says. "The rat could have put his butt in the opening of the cage containing chocolate to block the other guy, but he didn't. They were sharing food with their pals. In rat land, that is big—I was shocked." Mason says that free rats typically took the chocolate out of the cage before eating it and that sometimes the free rats placed the chocolate chips in front of or very near their recently sprung peers, "as if delivering it."

- Scientific American
frith_in_thorns: (Writing - tea and book)
Does anyone else do the thing where you start filling a prompt on a ficmeme and the whole time while you're writing it you keep on refreshing the page at intervals, being paranoid that someone'll have been faster than you and already filled it? /laughs at self

I'm currently interspersing fic-writing with revision, half an hour of each and then switching. It's going okay. Well, the end of last week and the weekend were a complete and utter loss, but I'm finally beginning to pick up again. However, when writing fic I'm even less inclined to come up with actual plots than usual. Expect continuing spam of contextless h/c.

(Speaking of which - is 'getting a bug' used in the context of having a cold in the US? Enquiring minds are unsure.)

- -

Book! I love this book. It's extremely funny and dark and witty. You should read it. It's... quite hard to sum up what it's about, but it mostly focuses around a soul-destroying shopping centre in Birmingham. Anyway, it's one of my favourites.

#7
She'd been staring at the words for so long, they were bled of meaning. Hobbies and Interests. What did it mean? Technically it wasn't actually a question, and it was only the two inches of white space below that would clue you into the fact that the words were supposed to elicit a response. Maybe she could just write something equally ambiguous as a response: 'Good', or 'Hello', or 'Yes'. It was a conundrum. Obviously she had no hobbies and interests, she was a duty manager... and yet there were those blank two inches, as if they wanted or expected you to have a life outside of work. It was a trap, but the thing with these traps was to act as if you didn't realise it was a trap. Lisa knew that writing, for example, 'I find hobbies and interests take up valuable time that could be better spent developing top-notch merchandising skills in store' would be too obvious. She also knew that even if she had any interests, to list them honestly would be disastrous, a clear compromise of her commitment.

After twenty-three minutes of staring at the three words, she had a flash of inspiration and wrote: 'Shopping and reading magazines.' So simple. And true! They would be delighted that her life truly was that small.

- Catherine O'Flynn, What Was Lost
frith_in_thorns: (Zundry - Coffee cup)
#6
And not expecting pardon,
Hardened in heart anew,
But glad to have sat under
Thunder and rain with you,
And grateful too
For sunlight on the garden.

- Louis MacNeice
frith_in_thorns: (Zundry - teacups)
I celebrated doing my viva by tidying my room. It's now immaculate. (Everyone who's ever been in my room is laughing/unbelieving right now, I know.) There's so much floor! Fran came into my room to ask me something and was literally stopped speechless.

It apparently amuses a lot of people how I'm obsessive about keeping kitchens clean and orderly, but happily live in rooms with clothes and paper all over the floor. SO MUCH PAPER.

--

I've finally begun uploading my backlog of fic onto AO3. Because I don't want to annoy everyone by spamming, I decided to do two stories a day. This has already become "two stories on days when I remember". My organisational skills, let me show them to you. Okay, since I've just told you how I filed two terms' worth of lecture handouts on my bedroom floor, this probably isn't a surprise.

--

Last night, for reasons which are beyond me, I made a spreadsheet of all the goods I own in Echo Bazaar and calculated out their values. Conclusion: I can comfortably afford an Overgoat. But I'd have to sell lots and lots of stuff to do that. I have an unreasonable attachment to stuff (even virtual stuff), so this is a Difficult Decision. I mean, I'm already sad that I can't have my Bifurcated Owl and Unfinished Hat equipped as pets at the same time. I kind of want them to both ride around on my Bengal Tigress.

--

#5
Celia Bowen sits at a desk surrounded by piles of books. She ran out of space for her library some time ago, but instead of making the room larger she has opted to let the books become the room. Piles of them function as tables, others hang suspended from the ceiling, along with large golden cages holding several live white doves.

- Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus

frith_in_thorns: (Default)
So, I had my three-hour stats exam. It went okay, I think - I'm pretty sure I passed, and that's really all I'm aiming for at this point. Now I'm back to reading about ants in prep for the viva voce tomorrow. I'm really not looking forward about that. Gah, I hate oral exams.

--

I was probably going to post a snippet from the Newsflesh series eventually anyway, but I was reccing them to [livejournal.com profile] sholio so they're on my mind. There's Feed, Deadline, and I'm currently waiting for Blackout to be released in a couple of week's time. They're about government conspiricies and a group of young adults who run a news website. And zombies. They're very good.

#4
At least Becks was being smart about her stupidity and was using a crowbar to poke the zombie, which greatly improved her chances of survival. She'd managed to sink the clawed end under the zombie's collarbone, which was really a pretty effective defensive measure. The zombie would eventually realize that it couldn't move forward. When that happened, it would pull away, either yanking the crowbar out of her hands or dislocating its own collarbone, and then it would try coming at her from another angle. Given the intelligence of your average zombie, I figured she had about an hour before she really needed to be concerned. Plenty of time. It was a thrilling scene. Woman versus zombie, locked in a visceral conflict that's basically ground into our cultural DNA by this point.

When you're going out to play with dead things, do it during the daylight. They don't see as well in bright light as humans do, and they don't hide as well when they don't have the shadows helping them. More important, the footage will be better. If you're gonna die, make sure you do it on camera.

- Deadline, by Mira Grant
frith_in_thorns: (Writing - Universe)
I've just handed in my viva powerpoint slides, and tomorrow I have a stats exam. But in five weeks it'll all be over.

I'm actually walking round the house in my black heels today because I pretty only wear heels as part of subfusc and I've forgotten how to walk in them :P I'm smooth. I also forgot to get a white carnation over the weekend - anyone know what time the covered market opens? I'm guessing 9, which would give me enough time to get one before the exam. Also, so glad I get to do my exams in a room by myself in college, rather than in Schools.

---

I was wondering how to do the quotes from 100things which are from fiction books. I've decided that I'll do this by picking bits from near the beginnings of the books, and which don't give away plot spoilers. Is this an okay way to handle it, do you think?

#3
I was born in a water moon. Some people, especially its inhabitants, called it a planet, but as it was only a little over two hundred kilometres in diameter 'moon' seems the more accurate term. The moon was made entirely of water, by which I mean it was a globe that not only had no land, but no rock either, a sphere with no solid core at all, just liquid water, all the way down to the very centre of the globe.

If it had been much bigger the moon would have had a core of ice, for water, though supposedly incompressible, is not entirely so, and will change under extremes of pressure to become ice. (If you are used to living on a planet where ice floats on the surface of water, this seems odd and even wrong, but nevertheless it is the case.) This moon was not quite of a size for an ice core to form, and therefore one could, if one was sufficiently hardy, and adequately proof against the water pressure, make one's way down, through the increasing weight of water above, to the very centre of the moon.

Where a very strange thing happened.

- Iain M. Banks, The Algebraist

This is nearly my favourite of his books. (Excession and Look To Windward narrowly beat it.) I love the way he puts little things in near the start, like this whole I was born in a water moon section, which you know are important, but you just can't quite figure out how until later.

frith_in_thorns: (Zundry - bobtail squid)
Guess who's got to hand in her extended essay in twelve-and-a-half hours and still has ~3000 words to go? :D

On the plus side, I have way more than 3000 words of notes to use. Apparently Helen and I are able to make each other work by some strange occult magic or something. (Perhaps it's because when I'm working in her room I a. feel guilty if I'm not working and she is (apparently this works in reverse), and b. can't mess around on the internet. Also she is very reassuring when I start panicking. Yay!)

On this topic, here is my next quote-thing for 100things:

#2
Sediment blankets much of the deep-ocean floor and was a source of endless tedium for those lowering dredges and raising mud during the three-year voyage of HMS Challenger in the 1870s. This voyage marked the first systematic look at the biology of the deep sea. Perhaps all that mud contributed to the suicide, two cases of insanity and 61 desertions that are among its lesser known achievements.

- Callum Roberts, "Deep impact: the rising toll of fishing in the deep sea", Trends in Ecol & Evol
 
GUESS WHAT MY ESSAY'S ON. Well, at least the bobtail squid in my icon is actually relevant for once. Well, more so than the "science is awesome, yay!" that I generally use it for...

(In related news, this is why I'm behind on answering comments. And now my break's over and I must go back to wooooork...)

frith_in_thorns: (Zundry - bobtail squid)



Saw this on [livejournal.com profile] leesa_perrie's journal - it sounds fun, and like an excuse to spam everyone with things! My topic is going to 100 small piles of words I come across. So, you know, paragraphs or phrases or lyrics I like on that day.

Here is my first one, from my Viva reading I was doing earlier:

#1
How ants measure distance has remained obscure until recently. Mathias Wittlinger and his collaborators addressed the problem by lengthening the legs with stilts or shortening them by cutting off the tarsi. In this ingenious way, they were able to demonstrate that the ants measure distance by counting steps.

- from "The Superorganism: The Beauty, Elegance, and Strangeness of Insect Societies" by Holldobler and Wilson.
 
ANTS ON STILTS, YOU GUYS. I would love to know the thought process which led to that experiment. At any rate, it massively amused me, although it's not quite as wonderful as bee swarming experiments, where the queen is in a little cage and the swarm forms around her. Then when the swarm reaches a site consensus and starts to fly off, they get a little way and then are all "nuuuuu, where is our queen???? this is terrible :O" and then they go back and swarm because they won't leave her behind and don't understand why she isn't flying with them. Am I alone in finding this adorable and also feeling sad for the poor confused bees? :P

Anyway, that is the sort of strange things I'm signing up to spam you with :D


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