Well after a harrowing journey which involved transferring from the alp’s, a quick stop home to change suitcases (approx 6 hours) and then buses to Heathrow and flight to Cancun via Houston I finally arrived at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma Mexico (UNAM), total travel time only 47 hours!!
After a quick coma I awoke to the most stunning views off our very reasonable roof terrace just a stones throw from the beach and the UNAM research station. The group is quite a mix with participants from Hawaii to Singapore and via New Zealand and Europe! Not all of the participants are PhD students either, there are post docs, professors and governmental employees, all here to learn and develop their research skills.
Well after receiving the timetable all I can say is jeeez!!! I knew this course would be intense but wow it is chock-a-block!! Basically from 9 until 10-11 with only a 2 hour break at lunch, not quite sure when we are meant to eat dinner.
The day began with some heavy physics, basically expanding our knowledge on the physics of light. It was actually really interesting if a little intense at some points. I love it when things relate to simple examples in the real (non-science world). For example why is the sea blue, I know many of you out there will say “because it’s a reflection of the sky” but you are wrong! Its due to the molecular scattering of light, smaller particles scatter blue light preferentially and as water molecules are relatively small that is why scatter blue creating the blue appearance. So why is the sky blue? Well this works on a similar principle, when the sun is overhead you sea the direct light from the sun which is yellow and then the rest of the sky appears blue due to diagonal direction of light scattering towards your eyes, and again air molecules are small and so preferentially scatter blue light! So hang on a minute I hear you say, what about at sun set! Why is the sky red? Well it’s the same principle but the sun is further away. When blue light is scattered it basically runs out leaving the other end of the spectrum which is red, therefore all the blue light has been scattered by the time the light reaches your eye leaving only reds (and a bit of pink and orange) it also depends on the amount of particulate matter in the atmosphere which increase scattering!
So like I say I learnt a lot, obviously a bit more technical than that but examples like those make it that little bit more interesting and memorable!
Part of the course is to conduct research each day in groups, analyze the data and then prepare a presentation which we present at the end of each day. As well as this at the end of the day each of us takes it in turns to give a 30min presentation on our own research interests. So as you can expect the days are very long and grueling. However there are highs! Today is now day 3 and it was the first chance we got to go out in the water and to the reef. However each high must have a low! Mine was that my sunscreen seems to have ceased usefulness as although I applied several times I am as pink as a milkshake! But I did get to try out my new super snorkel, which reviews state, is THE snorkel, if you’re interested it’s the Oceanic Ultra Dry and it does what it says on the tin!!
So now its 8.30pm central time I’m about to give my presentation from day 2 and 3 as we finished so late yesterday we couldn’t possibly stay later, I’ll be starving by the time I get back it will be gone 10 and too late to go to a restaurant, we have no food either as we have had no time to go to a shop! But I’m still enjoying it and I could defiantly come to work here everyday if you factor in usual working hours.
A few other interesting events that I will quickly squeeze in, my flat mate found a scorpion in her bed yesterday eeekk!! And there are some cool iguanas on the campus here I will attach a pic!! I creeped up on one earlier to get a good picture it started doing this funny dance, cracked me right up!! Oh yes also I have a nice hammock on my terrace which I eat breakfast on everyday whilst listening to Phil Collins on out outdoor stereo system, just to make you jealous!!
So from the first 3 days in Mexico I bid you Sionara
Ciao from Mehico