Monday, 22 September 2008

S282: TMA-4

Its the last of the TMAs for this course. This is probably one of the more scary ones, as I found the first book much easier to digest in terms of concepts and ideas than book 2. Anyway, onwards...

It starts, conventionally enough, with question 1.
This consists of an image of a galaxy, and a spectral diagram of the same, and then there are a variety of questions on it. Firstly, just from the image you are asked to work out if you think this is a regular or active galaxy. Also what galaxy classification would you give to it?
Then there is a collection of data which has to be plotted as a graph to give the spectral signature of the galaxy. Again you have to discuss whether this looks like data from a normal or active galaxy.
The next part asks you to pick between a radio-loud and radio-quiet active galaxy, so rather giving the game away!
Next you have to make some more connections about a small part of the spectrum which is given to you as a graph. Looking at broadening of spectral lines and so on to work out what each shows.
Then some calculations on the broadening values to try and determine velocities.
Finally all the information has to be put together to determine what classification this galaxy is.

Question two is all about cosmology, and FRW models. It starts by getting you to define some FRW assumptions, then to imagine a universe with some given properties, and sketch out how the scale factor would change with time.
Then some algebra and stuff to work out if the curvature of space in this universe is negative.
A couple more calculations of other quantities such as the deceleration parameter and so on.
Then the last part throws in another observation and gets you to refine the model in the light of this new data.

Question 3 is only 5% and just asks you how you plan to revise for the exam. Not really any wrong answers here, although according to the tutor some interesting ideas are forthcoming!

This was a ratehr tough one for me, as cosmology is probably the weaker subject for me, and there hasn't been a lot of time for it to bed down in my mind. Still - its done now. I have a CMA to practice on - which is marked but not assessed, and then its just the exam left.

Friday, 19 September 2008

S320: TMA-3

The last TMA of this course, and its a big one. Its big because it counts double, so you can easily win or lose on this one. Its also big because there is not really a question to answer, but a paper to write.

So what you have to do is write 1500 words on a given topic, and include plenty of references and notes about it too (1500 again). There are also some constraints that you have to take care of.
  • First - the word limits are hard limits - in that you should not exceed them, and there are penalties if you do.
  • Second - you need a punchy attention grabbing title of up to 10 words. 10 words!!
  • Third - an abstract of 40 words. Again quite mean.
  • Then the usual introduction, conclusion, content, and some diagrams/tables/graphs.
There are several topics available, and this year its one of
  • The spread of West Nile virus in North America
  • Outbreaks of E. coli infection in the United Kingdom
  • The emergence of multidrug-resistant pathogens
In this case, I picked the third one, and focused on MRSA and C. difficile as two pathogens that are resistant to drugs. It took a while to read up what was current and what the literature said and how medical professionals are dealing with the outbreaks.

Eventually it was all put together, and sent of, with not a little crossing of fingers. Now it's just revision - however there is one extra thing. The exam includes an essay to be written on a topic disclosed in the exam. However the general subject of the essay is given ahead of time for you to research. This year its something to do with C. difficile - so that was lucky!

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

S320: Book 7 - Treatment and control

So the final book and its a bit bigger than the last one. This one looks at various options for the control and treatment of infectious diseases. It starts off by looking at simple strategies for controlling disease. Then it moves onto chemical attacks - looking at things like selectivity of chemicals and the development of them. After that we are into vaccination and how to make successful vaccinations. The next chapter looks into public health issues and how disease can be controlled from that aspect.

Finally there is a case study on the rather gruesome guinea worm which is one of the targets to be eradicated.
Its a good wrapping up book - now there is just a double weighted TMA to do, and the exam to revise and research for.

S282: Book2 - Chapter 8

The last chapter of the book, and it is here where we are treated to some ultimate answers, although as it turns out they are not ultimate answers. However after several chapters of "this constant might be this" and "space might be flat or might not" its nice to have something a little more solid feeling.
Anyway it discusses such topics as
  • What is of dark matter
  • What is dark energy
  • The horizon and flatness problems
  • Where did structure come from
  • Why is there matter and not antimatter
  • What happened at the big bang
  • The anthropic Universe
So actually there is no real answers - just best guesses and ideas, but its nice to know these abstract things we've been looking at may become more concrete. Anyway - that's the end of the text books.