(Date: 29.6.2015 – 3.6.2015)
The final week is here. I will defend my thesis on Thursday.
The most preparation-intensive thing is my defense talk. A reminder: A talk of 20 minutes, summarizing in 8 slides the 250 pages of my thesis. I am holding test talks for this one quite a lot. On the weekend in front of myself, in front of my girlfriend, in front of André. And on the weekdays prior to Thursday once per day in front of the German-speaking colleagues of the institute. Everything needs to be on point, and I need to train a bit to get the length of the talk from 24 minutes down to about 20. Also the transitions between the different logical parts and/or slides need to be perfect. I think, in total I test the talk about ten times.
On Thursday, I will hold my talk and the whole defense in German. It’s probably the first German talk in about three and a half years. Quite strange to find German phrases for tracking and all the technical terms. The reason why I hold the defense in German at all is because of the Q&A session after the talk. I fear that the committee will ask questions about basic physics stuff I just know from my university studies – and there everything was in German and my English vocabulary might be a bit limited.1
For sure, in the leftover time of the week, I continue studying. I kept a few selected topics for the end, since I wanted to have it fresh in mind. Among them is some spin physics stuff, a topic in which I always felt not really comfortable in. One specific thing I learn, for instance, is how to polarize beams in an accelerator. As it turns out: Do don’t do that very easily. You polarize electrons of an atom with the Stern-Gerlach principle and then project the spin from the electrons to the protons by means of a clever RF field. After that you can strip the electrons and have a polarized beam. The spin transfer is quite complicated, though.
In addition, there are some defense-surrounding things to organize. Mainly, food and drinks at the defense. My colleague D. and I are defending both on Thursday2, first I at 14:00, then he at 16:00. Unfortunately, the usual place to deliver canapés and the likes is already booked, so we need to find an alternative. Eventually, the plan emerged: Between my defense and D.’s defense coffee, cold(er) drinks, and some fruits (since it’s suppose to be hot that day), after D.’s defense a cold buffet with sparkling wine and celebration and stuff.
Finally, Thursday comes.
I hold a very short defense in nearly 40°C — no one wanted to have it go any longer than needed. I sweat through a talk3 which suddenly was only 19 minutes long, and a number of strange questions, which of course only barely touch on any of the in-detail prepared topics.
But, finally I’m done; it’s done! I pass with »very good« and am only some technicalities away from calling myself Dr. Andi.
My PhD journey of three years and a half is over at last.
Thanks for participating!
Looking back, I probably would have managed the Q&A session in English quite alright, and it would have given me ease of mind to talk in English. So, dear time-traveling Andreas, better chose English for your defense! ↩
Although he handed in two weeks earlier! He had a lot more time to prepare!!1 ↩