How to make the day a minute longer

Hey everyone!

The beginning of fourth year has felt like being told to perform a one-handed cartwheel completely off the bat – a little disorientating and incredibly difficult! We split into groups on the first week back and were asked to produce a paper to submit to the Journal of Special Topics a week later!  Not only this but courses are in full swing – resulting in a number of up-coming deadlines – and all the while we are reading paper after paper in order to write a 10,000 word expert report (in a subject totally new to us) by the end of November!

On the plus side the number of lectures per week has dropped to allow us to organise our time with much more freedom. Not only this, but suddenly I am able to research any topic I like for the Journal of Special Topics. This week saw me spending most of my evenings studying the mass of a meteor required to alter the Earth’s orbital period by 1 minute. It turns out it is 1.5×1019kg – given the correct initial conditions! This equates to an asteroid consisting purely of Iron with a diameter of 154km…I’m not sure the fact the day is a minute longer would be high on our list of concerns if this collision were to happen, but there you are!

A photo of a meteor during the 2009 Leonid Meteor Shower I saw of Wikipedia. I think my meteor may be a little more fiery...

A photo of a meteor during the 2009 Leonid Meteor Shower I copied from Wikipedia. I think my meteor may be a little more fiery…

As part of this research I found a website called ‘Earth Impact Effects Program’. Here you can input any initial conditions you like into a program and a detailed effect of the meteor you described is returned to you. Using the program you can input parameters like the asteroid is travelling at near light speed, or is the size of Jupiter. It’s really fun and incredibly detailed! There is also a link to a scientific paper on the website so you can find out how each parameter is determined. The science behind crater formation is pretty complicated but very interesting so I recommend you give it a read!

Outside of my course, I have been taking advantage of the campus’s close proximity to the cinema and have been averaging at 1 film per week! Also De Montfort Hall is hosting a number of famous comedians over the next few months – notably Ed Byrne, Bill Bailey and Sarah Millican – and I got to see Bill Bailey last night! A great perk of being a Leicester student is having a venue like this right on your doorstep.

Now I am off to watch the Philharmonia Orchestra at De Montfort Hall (I know, again!) for £5 since I am under 25! Another thing to take advantage of if you study here.

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About Lilian

Lilian has now graduated from the University of Leicester and is no longer blogging for this site. Lilian was blogging as a fourth year MPhys student, explaining how Physics can be rocket science – but then it can be chemistry, nanotechnology, biology and astronomy too.

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