At the start of the week, my simulations were still running. Many had finished, but some had been held back waiting for space available on the computing clusters, so I spent much of the week going through dark matter theory. My supervisors wanted to know how the calculation of the relic density works; put simply, how much dark matter do we theoretically expect to exist in the universe for a given model. The key questions though, were what were the assumptions that went into the calculation and where might they break down. By Friday, there were still four simulations running, and they wouldn’t finish until early on Sunday morning.
Away from the books, it was a rather straightforward week. Wednesday night was another Gates Internal symposium; a semi-regular series where scholars present their work. As is typically the case, the talks were selected from a diverse range of topics. There were a diverse range of topics; explaining immunology through literature, analysing the political statements of the Disney film Zootopia, how to analyse exoplanetary atmospheres and the ongoing political problems in the Central African Republic. As usual, it is amazing to hear about all of the different things that people are studying. Cambridge, and Gates in particular allows me to mingle with so many different people from different disciplines. It is something rather unique to Cambridge and that I have never really experienced before.
My other social event for the week was on Friday night, where I had invited Annalise, Jacqueline and Paul to formal at Darwin. We met by the Porter’s lodge, for predrinks in the Old Library, which today had been decorated in an exhibit on the Russian Empire. Dinner itself was, in my opinion, one of the best I have had at Darwin. For our entrée, we were served salad with tomato soup in an artisanal narrow jar. I opted out of the seafood main course, instead going for the vegetarian gnocci, which was coated in a beautiful sauce. Finally, dinner was topped off with a scrumptious chocolate tart.
After dinner, we farwelled Paul who had some work to do later that evening, and walked as a trio to Joanna and Danny’s; who were hosting a Partyyy (sic) that night. We didn’t change, so I turned up in my formal wear. There were a number of mostly Gates people, many of whom stayed to about midnight, and I got to socialise with a number of people, and got caught in the crossfire in a discussion about North Carolinian College Football. I stayed later, and moved from from the kitchen to the living room to join in the karaoke; which turned out mostly to be questioning on what I would like to do for my upcoming 21st birthday.
It was some hours and spilled glasses of wine later again before it was time to go home, but it took longer still to actually leave and longer again to convince everyone that everyone else was sober enough to manage themselves. The walk home was made more interesting by the fact that there was snow falling and settling all over the cars and streets.
I recovered the next morning with a long bike ride to Great Chishill, the highest point in the county of Cambridgeshire. Throughout my ride, the snow was falling. I had never ridden in snow before, at it was a really great experience. The road wasn’t slippery, because it would melt when it settled on the tarmac and so it wasn’t much different to cycling in the rain. When I was climbing up to Great Chishill, the snow started to settle on the ground, and so I was treated to a beautifully white English village; the first time I’d seen as such this winter. I descended down into Whittlesford to catch a train back home.
Sunday Brunch this week was with another group of Gates Scholars, this time at Pembroke college. The attraction this week was intended to be the famous Pembroke waffles, but by the time we visited they had all gone. Instead, we resigned to pancakes, which were delicious in any case. That said, they brought comparisons to the antipodean pikelets (which took some explaining to the non-antipodeans). The rest of my weekend was spent in the office working.