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Journal Journal: Honours Update

Honours completed sometime ago, with a mark that enables further research. The model results were nothing to write home about. I was able to tweak the model to match, broadly, alkalinity observations around towards the end of the last glacial period. I did also get to learn more about myself. After years of denial, I sought help with mild depression and my outlook improved significantly.

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Journal Journal: Graduation! Now an honours thesis

After five and a half years of mercurial grades and effort, I wandered across the stage to collect my BSc(REM) pass degree from the Chancellor of the ANU.

This week I begin my two years of part-time study towards my honours degree. My thesis will be a description of my revisit of the revisit of the coral reef hypothesis by taking the original model (of the revisit) and incorporating changes to ocean circulation since the last Glacial Maximum(LGM).

The premise of the Coral Reef Hypothesis is that the majority of the rise in pCO2 in the atmosphere following an initial warming trigger is due to sea level rising, flooding continental shelves. This leads to the increase precipitation of calcium carbonate (reef building), releasing carbon dioxide into the ocean and thus (by Henry's Law) the atmosphere. This is a positive feedback effect.

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Journal Journal: Marine Biogeochemistry done

What an exciting 6 months. Punctuated by a field trip on a 12m charter boat in 2.5m swells. I was going OK until we stopped to take sea water samples and water column measurents such as T, salinity, depth etc. I then got to see breakfast again, and dinner....and my spleen. Withdrew from my maths class as there was not even enough time to do the marine course well. This means my graduation date is put back six months as I want to do the modelling course next year.

Journal Journal: A Fail and a Pass tops off an "Interesting Semester"

A first for my degree, a Fail (Maths Methods I). In hindsight, early withdrawal would have been a smarter approach but optimism over-rode reality. Looking at the stress-factors, including starting a new job with SGI and "fun" with the Tax office I can see some of the reasons for my performance suffering. Now I get to choose another subject. I won't do the subject again. I scored nearly 50% on the exam with only being able to review about 45% of the lecture material. I will be reviewing PDEs in my own time.

Journal Journal: Totally Mathematical semester

The semester is in full swing and I am doing two maths units this semester.

Mathematical Methods I consists of Vector Calculus and an intro to PDEs. There are sixty in the class which is really exciting because all the lecturers have really small writing so a lot of my dx might be dz! What is also exciting is the fact that the honours stream class and "the rest of us" have been rolled into this one, giving the "rest of us" access to vector calculus and PDEs that wasn't really available in the Mathematics Department. Consequently, the lecturers are trying to walk a line between boring the pants off the honours students or befuddling the rest of us. I think they might be achieving both at the moment :). The first assignment will be the real test of my understanding. There is the danger of nodding knowingly in the lectures and then being bamboozled when confronted with an actual problem.

Environmental Mathematics is run jointly between ICAM (Integrated Catchment Assessment and Modelling) and the Maths Department. Some students have dropped it as it seemed a bit lightweight for their mathematical tastes. To me, however, it is the primary reason I have taken Mathematics as I want to do scientific modelling. The emphasis is on the process of creating a strong model, though there is some meaty maths in the second Assignment involving PDEs (in Q1) which will be a challenge.

I have elected to do the Honours Pathway Option in this which involves a project that tests our understanding of model development and application, without too much emphasis on building a realistic one in the time provided. Data selection/tranformation, parameter selection, assumptions and goals are much more important.

Silicon Graphics

Journal Journal: New job!

I will be starting on the first of June as the SGI man in Canberra at the Australian Partnership for Advanced Computing. This is exciting as it not only involves supporting a large Altix supercomputer but also will be liasing between SGI, APAC and other research organisations. My goal since starting my degree was to move out of the IT Security field and move into scientific computing/environmental sciences/modelling.

Lots of people ask the Chapter 11 question and my reply is that companies like Storage Technology have traded out of chapter 11. SGI has a good culture and good technology and I look forward to seeing it finding its way back in the marketplace.


Journal Journal: A change in plans for First Semester

I've decided to do the core Geography Unit this semester, Environmental Policy and Planning instead of Scientific and Industrial Modelling. This means I would have complete4 all the core units of the Resources and Environmental Management degree by the end of this semester. There is a quite exciting job possibility coming up and I want to make sure I have the flexibility to respond while still keeping the hope alive of completing my degree.

Journal Journal: Hasn't time flown

Happy New Year. Last semester, having secured full-time employment once again, was another slog towards the end. It began with the luxury of being able to go to every lecture and tute and plenty of time for research. Early marks were promising at the HD level. In the end I was happy with the results, given the 50 hour weeks I put in at times at work. My Maths marks were reasonable enough to give me confidence for this year's 3rd year courses. They have introduced a new 2nd year maths course, covering PDEs at the non-honours level in the second semester. I have enrolled in this as an understanding of PDEs are essential for CFD. An interesting year, with 3 of my 4 courses are in the Maths Dept, doing two modelling units. The Geology course will be the sister course to the New Caledonia trip I did back in the beginning of 2004.
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Journal Journal: Geophysical Fluid Dynamics

Spent some time with Andy Hogg this morning. He is doing some interesting modelling of ocean currents and ocean-atmosphere intereactions.

Modelling is not confined to APAC's new SGI Altix supercomputer. He is also working with a rotating annulus of water with a means to set differentials in temperature. There may be an opportunity for a part-time student internship. This would be a great way to get an insight into modelling of the ocean and atmosphere as well as the RSES itself.

BTW, happy with my results. Exactly as I calculated.

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Journal Journal: Geology and Maths

Had a chat with Steve Cox yesterday about where I'm going and where I want to be. I talked about my Maths exploits and he discussed his latest maths travails. He struggled with modelling with Mathematica, but is making headway with Matlab at the moment. He's working on modelling involving Bessel functions and (from his description) Dirac Delta "functions" related to fluid transport in fault events. He gave two pieces of good advice. 1. Wait until 6 months before the end of the pass degree (2007 for me at this part-time rate) then start visiting potential supervisors. 2. If I have to do Honours part-time, try and do a block of full-time for the writing phase. A lot of time is lost winding up and winding down if there are frequent interruptions.

Journal Journal: Life and study

Still on track. Yay. Going into the exams for both Geog and Maths with ~75% marks. Note that 75% is "below average" for the Maths class! Have one week to review the Geography and another 10 days for the Maths.

Study has been also made "easier" by the fact that I have been "between contracts" for two months now. It would be nice to get some work as my family likes to eat food and live in comfortable shelter etc. :-) Have online businesses in startup and developing training delivery, but nothing that will put food on the table next week

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Journal Journal: Maths on track

Beginning to grok DEs. Of a total of 25% possible marks, now on a Distinction average. Need to improve my performance on the assignments. Just getting the hang of converting an application word problem to a DE. It is a real art. Geography was a surprise. First assigment was worth 30%, most people did poorly. I suspect the lecturer failed to specify what he wanted. I did OK but not as well as expected. I am baffled by the marking scheme. Beginning earlier would have helped of course ;-)
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Journal Journal: A new year dawns

Stumbled through the supplementary exam. I have dropped to the "normal" maths stream this year, doing Differential Equations and Applications. The lecturer is enthusuastic and frequently acknowleges that maths can be painful, frustrating and also fun and rewarding. So far, I am following the coursework better than last year.

Am also doing my first geography course. Interesting GIS work and modelling promised. A lot of the biogeography and earth science has already been covered so the challenge will be not to fall into the trap of "I know that", until the exam! There are a couple of us oldies in the course, but this is primarily a new batch of first years. Doing the course part-time means that a lot of the students move on. Which is a pity in some ways as the social bonds formed, especially on field trips, is an important aspect to me.

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Journal Journal: A tad better in some ways

Had fun with Chemistry of the Earth (geochemistry++). Stable Isotopes, Phase diagrams and thermodynamics. Bombed final exam and got a Credit. *sigh*. Maths was a struggle, particularly when my assignment scores were only ~50%. Made the Exam more crucial. I have a supplementary exam next month. Definitely dropping down to the "standard" maths stream. Anyway, had a great holiday in South Australia.
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Journal Journal: Made it through the semester from Hell

Scraped through Maths with a Pass(noone could get a lower score and still Pass!). Worse was a Pass for the Structural Geology subject, crashing the exam. Serves me right for walking out after an hour without reviewing the answers. Good result for Hydrogeology. Have rejigged my course plan to a strict 2 courses per semester, part-time plan. It would be too much of a strain to squeeze in enough courses to shave off another year from the 8 years projected. As it stands, 6 years including a full-time honours year.

To restore a sense of reality, I think Walt Disney should have a Hardluckland. -- Jack Paar