Congratulations to the 15 School of Physics and Astronomy students who received an Edinburgh Award at a ceremony in April.
The Edinburgh Award
The Edinburgh Award recognises the non-academic University activities, such as volunteering work, community activities or part time work, which some students take part in. The Award encourages students to reflect on and develop the skills gained through taking part in such activities. One of the important aspects of the Award is the opportunity for students to articulate what they have gained from such activities – a skill which will be of advantage when communicating with potential employers.
The School’s Edinburgh Award recipients had contributed to the School’s Physics Outreach Team or the Maths Buddies scheme.
The science of what makes good chocolate has been revealed by researchers studying a 140-year-old mixing technique. The team in the University’s School of Physics and Astronomy have uncovered the physics behind the process responsible for creating chocolate’s distinctive smooth texture.
Scientists have uncovered the physics behind the process – known as conching – which is responsible for creating chocolate’s distinctive smooth texture. The findings may hold the key to producing confectionary with lower fat content, and could help make chocolate manufacturing more energy efficient. A team led by the University of Edinburgh studied mixtures resembling liquid chocolate created using the conching process, which was developed by Swiss confectioner Rodolphe Lindt in 1879.
Their analysis, which involved measuring the density of mixtures and how they flow at various stages of the process, suggests conching may alter the physical properties of the microscopic sugar crystals and other granular ingredients of chocolate. Until now, the science behind the process was poorly understood. The new research reveals that conching – which involves mixing ingredients for several hours – produces smooth molten chocolate by breaking down lumps of ingredients into finer grains and reducing friction between particles.
Before the invention of conching, chocolate had a gritty texture. This is because the ingredients form rough, irregular clumps that do not flow smoothly when mixed with cocoa butter using other methods, the team says. Their insights could also help improve processes used in other sectors – such as ceramics manufacturing and cement production – that rely on the mixing of powders and liquids.
The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, involved a collaboration with researchers from New York University. The work in Edinburgh was funded by Mars Chocolate UK and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.
For more information about science at Mars UK, visit their website.
Professor Wilson Poon, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Physics and Astronomy, who led the study, said:
We hope our work can help reduce the amount of energy used in the conching process and lead to greener manufacturing of the world’s most popular confectionary product. By studying chocolate making, we have been able to gain new insights into the fundamental physics of how complex mixtures flow. This is a great example of how physics can build bridges between disciplines and sectors.”
#ThursdayThrowback to our recent #CCCF19 webinar on starting a journalism career. Hilary Mitchell, editor of the online digital publication, “Edinburgh Live”, shared some great advice on how to get into this competitive industry… read on for a summary of Hilary’s top tips:
Start building momentum for a freelance journalism career
Simply do it!
Put your work out there on the internet by creating a blog or a website – there are lots of free places to publish your work such as WordPress or Medium.
Recruiters are unlikely to hire someone fresh out of university that doesn’t have a blog or a website. They look for a passion about writing that leads you to do it as a hobby initially.
I’m not encouraging you to work for free but it’s for your own enjoyment more than anything; a way that you can build a base to then leapfrog…
Good post from my colleague Alison Parkinson on how very different degrees relate well to careers in tech. There are even more connections with physics & astronomy degrees so it’s a popular choice with students
Alison Parkinson, Employer Engagement Adviser, picked up some very positive messages from a recent event.
We had four fantastic speakers on campus recently – debunking the myth that you have to have studied a particular degree discipline to work in a tech role or for a tech company. Not so!
Emma Langmean is Digital Adoption Experience Manager with RBS, joining them after her History of Art degree
Laura Wilson studied International Business with French here and is now working as a Data Scientist at Skyscanner
Katie Barker-Ward, studied History and is now a Senior Transformation Consultant with Waterstons
Andy is UX Team Lead at FreeAgent and studied Music Performance and Technology
Their Top 10 tips:
There is a massive range of roles in tech- not all about programming, at our recent Careers in Tech fair around half of the 50 + organisations who attended were recruiting students from any discipline.
Curious? On Thursday 9th May, Kara Owen, Director, Americas at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) will be giving insights and advice for those interested in working for the FCO. Her profile can be found here.
The recent black hole image, captured by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) – a network of eight linked telescopes – was rendered by Dr Bouman’s algorithm. Good article by Katy Steinmetz in Time Magazine online:
Though her work developing algorithms was a crucial to the project, Bouman sees her real contribution as bringing a way of thinking to the table. “What I did was brought the culture of testing ourselves,” she says. The project combined experts from all sorts of scientific backgrounds, ranging from physicists to mathematicians, and she saw the work through the lens of computer science, stressing the importance of running tests on synthetic data and making sure that the methods they used to make the image kept human bias out of the equation.
Bouman says that most of the time she’s not focused on the fact that she’s in a field where women are the minority. “But I do sometimes think about it. How do we get more women involved?” she says. “One key is showing that when you go into fields like computer science and engineering, it’s not just sitting in a lab putting together a circuit or typing on your computer.”
She plans to continue work with the Event Horizon Telescope team, which is adding satellite dishes in space to the network of telescopes here on Earth that were used to produce the image released on Wednesday. With the increased perspective and power, she says, they just might be able to make movies of black holes in addition to still images.
“It’s exciting,” she says. And that’s also her message for the next generation who might consider careers like hers. “As long as you’re excited and you’re motivated to work on it, then you should never feel like you can’t do it.”
SEPnet is the South East Physics Network, a network of nine universities in the South East of England, working together to deliver excellence in physics. SEPnet partners have useful careers pages on their websites full of information, advice and relevant resources for physics students.
They also offer Skills Transformer which provides science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) students with a structure to help you recognise, write about and talk about your skills. Skills Transformer shows you, through hearing from STEM graduates, why transferable skills are vital to working successfully in science and technical jobs after graduation and why being able to write and talk about them is fundamental to securing a job.
Spend 5 minutes trying out the online Skills Transformer tool and work through the sessions to help you prepare for placement or job application forms and for interviews.
To improve your chances of doing well in job and placement interviews, watch the video clip below. Gil Travish at Adaptix provides tips on how to do well in Skype interviews and explains what he is looking for in a physics graduate
The Space Placements in INdustry scheme (SPIN) provides an introductory link for those considering employment(and wanting to build experience) in the space sector with space sector organisations looking to find the most talented and enthusiastic people to ensure the future. It’s managed by the UK Space Agency and supported by the Satellite Applications Catapult. They offer paid summer internships with lots of benefits. Kathie Bowden from the UK Space Agency says:
“Please spread the word to your students there are some great opportunities now – and more to come – in the next few weeks.”