Friday, 25 September 2015

Higher Options & QUB Horizons in Physics

Higher Options

Higher options, for those of you who don't know, is an annual Irish college fair spanning several days, where universities, ITs and related organisations have stalls around the RDS and hold talks throughout the day. It's supposed to show you the variety of colleges and courses you can apply to after secondary school and broaden your horizons. Probably. 

Nearly my entire year went, in three buses. When there I wandered around for a while and bumped into Kat, talked to some people at stalls and eventually met up with Ben, with whom I spent the rest of the day. I hadn't seen him in a while, so that was fun. We continued touring stands and collecting mountains of prospectuses, then met up with John and Kat for lunch. 

Unfortunately, the UCAS talk was too full for us to get in, but we went to the Oxbridge talk, where a very well-spoken woman took us through the Oxford and Cambridge applications processes and answered questions. I was disappointed to find out that Cambridge offers no scholarships to international students at all, with only a needs-based bursary that doesn't come close to covering costs. C'est la vie. 

It was a pretty good day, but a tiring one, so I didn't get much done that evening. 

Horizons in Physics @ QUB

This was our Physics trip. Four girls from 6th year physics and about 12 from 5th year got into a minibus and went up to Queens for three lectures on the nature and applications of light. This was my first time visiting Queens, and I discovered that it's hugely picturesque and at least three of the lecturers are really enthusiastic and charismatic. So that was great. 

Our first lecture was on Light and Colour, with Prof Alan Fitzsimmons showing us how phone screens make colours and reintroducing us to the electromagnetic spectrum. He did a cool trick with an infrared camera and a projector. The second lecturer did something similar and taught us about excitation and how photons are emitted when electrons return to lower energy levels. We'd done this already in Physics and Chemistry but it was still enjoyable. The third lecturer showed us how light and the Doppler effect can be used to find exoplanets and exomoons. I had a question at the end about how you know which way an exoplanet is rotating and she answered it perfectly, which was very satisfying. 

Another tiring day, after which I just chilled before getting ready for a reunion the next day. It was a really good experience though, and I've decided to include Queens in my college applications. Which was probably the point. 

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