i can’t sing it strong enough

Results came out, and I did quite well. Okay, really well. I had my best semester yet, results-wise (and, really, everything else-wise too), and I’m going to graduate with first class honours. I also won a prize from the University for pure mathematics, which comes with a modest amount of cash and an unlimited amount of feelgood, and – to cap off a really exciting 24 hours – was offered funding to do my PhD at Manchester. I have a little bit of time now to choose between Manchester and Aberdeen, which is a dilemma in itself, but it’s nice to have the choice.

It’s also nice to have all these things that affirm that I can do mathematics. Mathematics is the single most beautiful thing out there, but it’s sometimes very frightening that I’ve committed the next three years of my life to studying it. I can’t think of any other subject where huge tracts of the literature are utterly unintelligible to people with Masters degrees, but that’s how mathematics operates. Before you can start research, you have to reach the cutting edge, and the only way to do that with mathematics is understand everything that’s come since in your area. Sometimes you go to the library and happen upon a textbook or a paper with an interesting title, and you get it out, but then you can only understand the first few lines – the rest makes literally no sense – and I find that very scary and it makes me wonder if I’m really cut out to be a mathematician. It’s nice to get reassurance that perhaps I am.

I’m very, very sad that Doctor Who has ended. The past thirteen weeks have been something really, really special. I’ve tried to put what I’ve loved about the new series down into words several times now, but I’ve always struggled. Undeterred, here are just a few reasons: the writing is spiky and the plotting is tight and the Doctor is alien and strange and brilliant. I liked Ten, but it was sometimes hard to remember that he was a 900 year old Time Lord. Eleven is far more quirky, and he’s both young and ancient at the same time, which is something that was said about Ten a lot (by other characters in the show) but I never really bought with him.

And how good was it to have a finale with a genuine happy ending? Top stuff.

I spent the day in Sheffield with Hann today; she had an open day there and I tagged along. I was up there a week ago last Monday, as well – I spend the day walking in the peaks with Richard, and in the evening went to see Marcus du Sautoy give a lecture. Oddly, the sort of things that I thought university in Sheffield would be all about – walks in the peaks, celebrity academics, the like – only happened after I finished there. But it’s great. I love that city. It’s a monster of a place.

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