Tag: science

"That" vs. "Which"

I know, this is hardly science. However, the only reason this comes up is that I’ve been editing papers recently.

Microsoft Word has a number of hang-ups that can be described as “cute” when you’re editing a page-long document, and something considerably stronger when you have a 10-page scientific paper you’re trying to spellcheck/format. One of these is the dreaded “that”/“which” dilemma, which seems to haunt it constantly.

Surviving a conference without your laptop

Travel these days for me means this:

  1. I pack all my stuff, including laptop (for serious work), iPad (for non-serious work, optional), Kindle (for reading) in my somewhat-bulging Belkin travel bag (an old model probably closest to the Larchmont Messenger out of their current range).
  2. I go to the airport and hit security.
  3. I take everything out of my bag for scanning, put it back in, spend prescious mental RAM + ego keeping track of everything.
  4. I get to where I’m going and then spend the rest of the trip making sure I don’t lose any of my devices.
  5. I pack to leave, and triple-check everywhere to make sure I haven’t left anything behind.
  6. Going through security, I once again have to dismantle my stuff to have everything scanned.


Later on today I’m bound for Sydney to attend a conference. I’ve booked my own accommodation, and I guess I’ll get to find out how comfortable/exciting it is to stay in a backpackers’ for a week.

The thing is, I was supposed to head out yesterday. Or, more to the point, I was supposed to head out on Saturday, but along the way my brain switched that to Sunday, which meant when I woke up on Sunday morning and decided to check my boarding pass, I got a nasty surprise. Thankfully, the nice people at QANTAS were able to switch me over to a flight today with a minimum of fuss, and while I’ll be arriving at my conference a day late, I’ll still catch the majority of the action and hopefully get to do all that networking stuff you’re supposed to do at conferences.

Graveyard shift

It’s twenty-five past three in the morning and I’m sitting in a tiny room in an airport-hanger sized hallway waiting as a stream of X-rays impacts a sample.

One of the many reasons I haven’t been posting recently (apart from my vast to-do list of other things) is that my research group has been preparing for our trip to the Australian Synchrotron. It’s my first visit and it’s been somewhat overwhelming. I’ve had to learn two new techniques from pretty much the ground up, and since time on the machines here (for those of you with any knowledge of this, we have the soft X-ray beamline for two shifts of 24 hours each to do XPS and NEXAFS is limited and valuable, we’ve been working literally around the clock.