Wednesday, 23 January 2008

S282: Chapter 1 - Seeing the sun

The text book An Introduction to the Sun and Stars is a great book, although there is a lot to it. There are lots of full colour pictures, and scattered through the text are questions to check you're understanding - which is very like the S103 course.

Its very much like the S194 course, but MUCH more detailed. Also the questions you have to answer, such as how many kilograms of hydrogen does the sun consume a year (its about 5.8 × 1011 kg s−1 in case you're interested), are not handed to you on a plate. You are given some figures, but others you may have to find from earlier in the text or deduce from other information and formulae. I find this all quite invigorating at this stage - and I know that may make be a little weird.

Anyway, this first chapter considers observations of the sun and its various components (yes, I thought the sun was just a yellow thing, but its much more complicated than that!). It has pictures of the sun taken in everything from visible light to x-ray to radio waves. It looks at the theoretical structure and what is going on deep in its depths based on what can be seen on the surface.

Monday, 21 January 2008

S320: Book 1 - Pathogens and People

Well book one is all quite general. There is a reasonable amount in it although its only 88 pages long. You only get two weeks to read it following the course schedule.

It's at this point that you also have to go through the Malaria CD. There is a lot of information in the CD, and I'm not really sure how much I need to know. We covered Malaria in quite some detail in S204, so there isn't a lot new to me - at one point I could recite most of the parasite life stages and forms.

The first chapter is a general introduction to the topic, and makes for interesting reading.

The next is a case study on influenza and looks at various aspects including its habit of reoccurring in new and more virulent forms every so often, and even touches on the H5N1 bird flu variant.

Chapter 3 is very short as its about Malaria, and just directs you to the CD.

Finally chapter 4 is all about hospital acquired diseases. Things like MRSA and so on are introduced here and how hospitals are a hot bed of infection, although compared to even a hundred years ago things have improved immeasurably. In those days you were lucky ever to come out of a hospital.

Friday, 11 January 2008

S320: Starting

The S320 Materials arrived on the same day as the S282 - which do I pick first! Both boxes were about the same size, so no help there! Anyway, on investigation the S320 box contains:
  • An A4 folder
  • A folder insert for the course
  • A study calendar
  • A welcome note
  • A course guide
  • Book 1 - Pathogens and People.
  • Book 2 - Infectious agents.
  • A bookmark for Book 2
  • Book 3 - Immunology.
  • A bookmark for Book 3
  • A large DVD pack about immunology
  • A DVD about syphilis
  • A syphilis case study booklet
  • A tuberculosis case study booklet
  • A cholera case study booklet
  • A Malaria CD
  • A CD reference library
  • 2 PT3 forms
You also have to send off for a couple of extra CDs about tuberculosis and AIDS/HIV, which is a little strange as usually everything comes together.

All in all it looks quite a list of rather dodgy topics! I suppose its book 1 first then...

S282: Starting

Well what a day - both the S282 and the S320 materials arrive on the same day!
The initial mailing contains the following:
  • An introductory letter
  • A Planisphere - the same as the S194 one.
  • A study calendar
  • A Large book called An Introduction to the Sun and Stars
  • A rather large activity book
  • A DVD with course materials on plus some video sequences.
  • An applications CD ROM
  • A glossy colour A4 picture of the Jewel Box cluster.
  • A course guide
  • 2 PT3 Forms
The book looks interesting with lots of pictures but is nearly 400 pages thick. Oh well, onwards and upwards!

Friday, 4 January 2008

More course decisons

It suddenly dawns on me as the new years starts that I'm only taking on 30 points - all be it at the 3rd level, plus a residential school. This is probably sensible, but I'm wondering if I can do 2 30pt 3rd level courses at once next year.

In the meantime I'm quite taken with astronomy, and suddenly it occurs to me that another 30pt course at level 2 might be doable, and in a sudden frenzy of possibly misplaced enthusiasm I sign up with just a couple of days to go for the S282 astronomy course.

Will this be a big mistake? That will be two exams come October time... but then I did manage to take several exams at once back in school days.

The good news is that I passed both S204 and SXR270, so I have 2nd level points in the bag so to speak.

Thursday, 3 January 2008

A251: The ECA

So I've gone with the 2nd of the two ECA topics of:
  1. In the archaeological record, what has happened when cultures have met?
I've decided that, well, fighting is the main event that happens when two cultures meet. Sooner or later it breaks down into fisticuffs.

I've borrowed some examples from TMA-3, and then expanded by looking at lots of other cultures, particularly the Romans as there is a lot written about them, and lots of examples of them meeting other cultures.

Two thousand five hundred words turns out to be a lot for me to get up to, and it takes a number of sessions of editing to get close to that goal. I included some pictures to break up the text a bit and to illustrate a few points. I had lots of references thanks to zotero (which also has an A251 style I wrote specially).

However despite the rest of the course being eTMAs and the like, the ECA still has to be printed 3 times and posted. The instructions are also for double spacing so it comes out at quite a healthy weight of paper by the time its all packaged up - in fact 60p's worth 2nd class!

I can't say its been my favourite course, but it has had its interesting points. I've learnt a lot about various cultures, but not much about what I think of as archaeology - digging stuff out of the ground and evaluating evidence.

Well, its done now, and the markers will have their final say.