Way too few updates

It feels like I’ve been updating this blog way too rarely the last couple of years – and that’s also the case for the web site as a whole. The last couple of days I have been procrastinating a bit, and had some fun with re-coding parts of the page, and setting up statistics. Turns out, a lot of the notes collections and old hand-ins get a lot of traffic, and it’s interesting for me to look at statistics for this.

Since the last post, I participated in several workshops, courses, experiments and conferences. Worth mentioning was the ICNS conference in Edinburgh, Scotland, two summers ago (July 2013), and a very exciting experiment at IN12 (ILL, France) the same month.

I finished all my teaching responsibilities, after having been a course instructor in the Experimental Physics course three times (although the first time was before I started my PhD) and once in the Neutron Scattering course, plus a couple of smaller things at different summer schools. I’m also almost done with taking courses, since I participated in a large number of workshops during the first part of my studies. I’ve had over a year long hiatus from my studies due to personal issues, and am currently working on getting back, by finishing my master thesis so I can continue on the PhD plan I started back in March 2012. Hopefully this will be over with in the beginning of this summer.

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Teaching maths to biologists for the second time at a summer school

Both today and yesterday I’ve been teaching at the “Applications of X-Ray and Neutron Scattering in Biology, Chemistry and Physics” summer school at the Niels Bohr Institute. Just like last year, I was teaching in split-sessions, where we tried to get some physics and math into some biologists and chemists – so they would be able to follow the rest of the course.

This time that was the only thing I did though, since they didn’t need me for any of the later tutorials.

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Experimental Physics got a prize, and so did we!

Mads and I got flowers, wine, and a gift card for an evening at a restaurant because of our work on developing the Experimental Physics course the last three years, and how much time we have both put in to getting the course be awesome! This was especially cool because Kim got the Jens Martin Knudsen prize as the best educator in February, because of his work on the course. So it was great for us student assistant teachers to get some recognition of our work as well. I am extremely honored and happy about this.

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Finished the last time of teaching in the Experimental Physics course

The last two days we have held the final exams for the Experimental Physics course, which I’ve been teaching in for a third time this year. The students did awesome – I’m super proud of all of them!

This will also be the last time I teach in the course, since I’ve been teaching plenty more than the required hours during my PhD already – and this course really takes a long time because of all of the actual hours in class, with all of the report corrections added on top!

Silly log books

I kept myself busy – using all of the train rides back and forth over Øresund last week to the Nordic Physics Days – to correct log books from the students on the course, so no boring transport for me! Now, I’m not telling who did this – but one of the log books had these amazing pages in them:

That gave me a good giggle.

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Yet another beam time, now with students!

Yet another beam time, now with students!

I just got home from Switzerland, once again, this time from a beamtime at the DMC powder diffractometer, where I was measuring on one of our LCO+O single crystal samples, in order to map out part of reciprocal space (both for the crystal aligned in the cb- and the ab-plane). It was some really cool measurements, and I think I’ve already found the front page image for my thesis!

I actually started out the trip with starting up a beam time at the RITA-II instrument, where a YMnO3 sample were to be investigated. That was also really exciting – and that experiment continued during my own DMC beam time as well (sadly I didn’t have time to follow it all the way though, but their results looked really cool!).

Some of the students from the neutron scattering course were down there with us, to follow the two experiments. That was really fun, but I hadn’t expected how hard it was to help them to understand everything, when I didn’t even understand half of it myself! Usually beam times are really tiring, but this really took the price!

The DMC data weren’t really the most perfect data to do structure refinement from (in the cb-plane we only got 12 structural peaks, and some of them were of really bad resolution), but we saw some cool temperature dependencies, and already have some new proposals out for TriCS and other instruments in order to explore those things more. We also got a friendly beam time of two days at the new EIGER instrument, which will be really cool to work with.

This trip also marked the end of the neutron course, although I still need to correct a few reports, and help a few more of the students with their final project. But all in all, it’s been fun teaching in the course, even though it has been quite hard at some times!

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Started teaching in the neutron scattering course

This week was the first week of block 1, and hence the first week of the neutron scattering course held at the Niels Bohr Institute. I was helping a bit last year as well, since I was hired to develop some different e-learning tools for the course, but this year I am an actual student instructor on the course.

We started Monday afternoon with some small introductions and a few exercises, and the small team (this year I think there are only about 12 students following the course…) is kind of cozy. Wednesday was the first long day, and since Kim went to Switzerland, Linda and I (and Peter Willendrup, who had promised to help with giving an introduction to McStas and the virtual machines we wanted to install on the student’s laptops, was also there) handled the day. Linda took care of lecturing about instrumentation, while I did a small MATLAB introduction and a little view of our local neutron source and He-3 detector tube. Most of the students seemed to get things running, and I think they’re ready for the startup of the real simulation projects in next week.

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Teaching at a neutron and X-ray scattering summer course

These last couple of days (that is, Monday through Wednesday), I’ve been one of the teachers of the Applications of X-ray and Neutron Scattering in Biology, Chemistry and Physics course held as a collaboration between the University of Copenhagen, the University of Lund, the University of Roskilde, and DTU. It’s a three week course, and this is the first time for the course to be held.

The idea was to teach fairly young university students the basics of both neutron and X-ray scattering, in order for them to be prepared for the great new times with the ESS and MaxLab IV.

These first three days, where I was teaching, consisted primarily of introductions, and Monday and Tuesday I was teaching in split-sessions. These sessions were a split-up of the students in biologists and physicists (or, in practice, people not usually using a lot of math, and people better at math). The physicists were taught something about proteins, while Kim Lefmann and I were teaching the others to do some basic math, and understand things like complex numbers, Fourier transformations, waves and simple scattering. All in all, I think it went okay. But I guess I would have liked to be better prepared (I only found out that I was going to be teaching at Sunday evening…).

On Wednesday, I helped three of the lecturers with exercises. The last two weeks I have been working on a simulation of a simple neutron reflectometer instrument, to be used this single day. I never got the multilayers working flawlessly, but I got the rest working okay, and offered to help the three others to do the actual teaching, using the live-simulation tools that we also used during the tutorials that I was helping in on i Italy in July. This ended up kind of a mess, but I hope that the students learned something anyway…

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Home from teaching in Italy

Home from teaching in Italy

The last week (from the 15th to today, the 22nd) I have been participating in the International Neutron Scattering Instrumentation School (INSIS), partly as a teacher, and partly as a normal student. This was all happening in the small town Frascati, on a mountain close to Rome, Italy.

I was teaching the students about McStas during two afternoon tutorial sessions, where Linda Udby, Peter Willendrup, and I strolled around helping the students getting through the exercises we made for them. For the rest of the school, I followed the lectures – learning a lot of new words from the neutron scattering world (even though some of the lectures were kind of a repetition of what I already knew), and I met a lot of cool people. I really had fun during the evenings, talking to a lot of great people from the neutron scattering world.

We also got a tour of the particle accelerator at the Laboratori Nazionali di Frascati, which was absolutely awesome!

A little trip to Rome

I did take a single day off, though, to go down to Rome and play turist. I went downthere awfully early in the morning, to have time to see things and walk around without dying in the heat. I was one of the first people of that day to get into the Colloseum – that was really cool. I also saw the pyramid of Cestius, the Trevi fountain, and the forums.

All in all I had a great trip – but I would recommend people that are not very heat-tolerant to not go there in the middle of the summer!

A while later, a meeting report was published for the school in Neutron News, which can be viewed here.

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Experimental Physics exams, finally over!

Today and yesterday we had the final exams of the Experimental Physics course. The students used the last couple of weeks on doing experiments around in the actual research groups at the Niels Bohr Institute. These experiments were then documented in small 4-page articles (PRL style), and the final exam was then individual oral presentations of their projects, using slides. The idea was to make it small konferences, and the students were split up into different teams where they held the presentations for each other (as well as the teachers, being there both as chairmen and examinators).

It went really well for most of the students, and it seems like they’ve learned at lot during the course. I feel like the course has been a success again this year – although I haven’t looked at the student evaluations yet..

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Experimental Physics course start

This year I will be teaching as a teaching assistant in the second-year course Experimental Physics (just as I did last year). Today was the first day with the students, and it looks really promising. There are, however, a huge number of them (it seems like they ended up being 72, as compared to last year when we only had around 48).

I will be the primary teacher of the numerical math program MATLAB, as well as the typographic program package LaTeX. I will also help in the practical exercises, where the students will be doing different experiments over the course of a full day (they will do three of these experiments), in order for them to write an experimental report/article over it. We will have a lot of reports to correct for them this year..

The course went really well last year, so I hope we will be able to keep the standard again. Because of the large number of students, I ended up making a wiki for the MATLAB exercises, such that they can help themselves more during the exercise sessions. I hope it’s actually usable! This first day, it seemed to lessen the queuing for questions a little – so it might have been worth the effort (and anyway, I can use it as-is next year as well).

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