Arrived in Crete

I am now in Crete, where I will be spending most of the next 6 months. I arrived Monday morning, by ferry from Athens. I will be working at FORTH, the Foundation for Research and Technology, Hellas, close to Heraklion, in the group of Dimitris Vlassopoulos. So far, I have an office and have met several members of the research group. Dimitris is running a conference nearby on associating polymers and supramolecular assemblies Wednesday through Friday, which I will attend. Looks interesting, and I know a few of the speakers, so it will be a good few days.DSC_7532 Here’s a picture of the institute!

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Thanks to Cristian and Muhammad

Summer is over and the new term is underway – except for those of us on sabbatical! Cristian Ardelean spent all of last year and this past summer working in my group, first through the  Scholar’s Electives program and then as a summer student. He worked with Cameron on the vibrating wire rheometer project. Muhammad Khalid was a summer student working with Nirosh, doing dielectric spectroscopy of materials. Thanks to both of you for your contributions!

Between jobs

My visit to UIUC ended a few days ago. The work I did there on using PCA to analyze large amplitude oscillatory shear data was useful, I think, and will eventually find its way into one of Simon’s papers. Simon and his family and research group gave me a nice send-off at the Big Grove Tavern in Champaign. Now I’m back home in London briefly before flying to Greece for an extended visit with Dimitris Vlassopoulos at FORTH in Crete. Dimitris works on the rheology of “architecturally complex” molecules such as star polymers.

Eclipse report

Recently back from a trip to Maryville, TN, to view the solar eclipse. We were on the campus of Maryville College, which sponsored an “event” for the occasion. I set up my camera on a tripod, donned my eclipse glasses, and spent a couple of hours staring at the sun in the 90 degree heat. Totality lasted 98 s where we were, but it seemed to go by much more quickly that that. It was spectacular. The corona was beautiful, with a very complex shape. There was a beautiful “diamond ring” as totality came to an end. I saw Venus during totality, but didn’t notice any stars. I will admit I was mostly looking at the sun and not at the rest of the sky! A wonderful sight. I saw one total eclipse before, back in 1979. That was great, too, but I think this one was more beautiful.

Getting ready to see the eclipse

The solar eclipse is just a few days away. I am planning to head south (and a bit east) to observe and enjoy the event. I have a friend who teaches at a college in Kentucky. I will drive to his place on Sunday, then go with him and a busload of his students to a spot in Tennessee to view the eclipse on Monday. At present, the weather forecast is “mostly sunny”, so I am optimistic and excited. As is my style, however, I left a lot of the details rather late. I was looking around for eclipse glasses a few days ago, but it seems that most of the country is sold out! Same for a solar filter for my camera. Instead, I went to Walmart and bought a couple of aluminized plastic emergency blankets. A few layers of that, and all will be good. I’m actually a bit ambivalent about taking pictures of the eclipse. On the one hand, I claim to be a photographer, and I like to have a record of things that I do. I took pictures of the 1975 eclipse in Gimli, Manitoba that still take my breath away. On the other hand, I don’t want to spend all my time futzing around with the camera, filters, etc. I want to enjoy the beauty of the event! So, I will probably compromise – take a few pictures, but spend most of totality oohing and aahing as the sun hides behind the moon.

A thesis defence

This week I went to the PhD examination of Jeremy Koch, one of Randy Ewoldt’s students. Jeremy’s thesis was about how air bubbles and particles move in vibrated or rapidly accelerated yield-stress fluids. Experiments on glass beads, Carbopol, and concrete. Interesting work, and Jeremy handled questions very well. It was interesting for me to see how a PhD exam works at UI. I was allowed to – and did – participate in the exam, for example, which would not be allowed at Western. Congratulations to Dr. Koch, and thanks for the champagne and cake afterwards!

It’s been a while…

It has been a few years since I have written anything on this blog. There are reasons… But this year I am on sabbatical leave, so perhaps I will get back to posting regularly. I’m spending the first two months of my leave working with Simon Rogers in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Simon has lots of good ideas about things rheological which I would like to understand better. So far, I’m getting involved in a couple of projects with Simon’s grad students relating to thixotropic suspensions and gelation. I’m also pursuing an idea of my own, which ties in nicely with some of Simon’s work.  Time will tell if it’s a good idea, or not, but it is so nice to have the time to work on it!