Feb/March 2008

If you see the amount of photos I uploaded this year, you may wonder whether I still have time to do research... Well... the answer is "not really". Although I'm having great fun, it's a pitty sometimes that I cannot get to working, as I still have some ideas I want to realize and check some hypotheses I formulated at the end of 2007. Partly because of the travelling (and planning for that) and partly because of all kinds of small things that came inbetween (arranging new visa, passport, writing final assignments for some courses, a on-campus conference where I had to participate) I have only spent about 2.5 weeks of the last 2.5 months on really doing research... Well, luckily it's not very different for most of the others in the lab, as the final assignments for graduating bachelor and master students had to be handed in early february and most of them went travelling abroad after that (the new school / working year starts only in April).

Well, then what did I do?...

Late february I suddenly got a message from Mae Rose whether I liked to go to an orchid trade show... One of her lab-mates had some special tickets for the preview on the evening before the actual opening (apparently the orchid industry in her hometown is quite big and her father got some free tickets). So we went to Tokyo Dome and saw a lot of flowers...

Many were special breeds and were shown in separate pots next to eachother, some with a medal they had won in some competiton. Apart from that, there were some big arrangements (some by ikebana schools, but most just by some city or retailer or so) like this one

With winter almost gone already, we just had to go ice skating some time still... We picked Antonin's birthday as an excuse and went to FujiQ highland. There are 3 skating rinks, but unfortunately the speed skating rink was closed (due to bad weather). The other rinks were quite fun thoug, but we got figure skates at the rental, which took quite some time to get used to (but they are actually practical at the small rinks).

It was Mae Rose' first time to go ice skating, but at the end of the day she already managed quite well!

At night one of the rinks was lit up (this one is a swimming pool in summer by the way) and as the crowds had gone (home) it was really nice to skate some more (although it was getting cold...)

My professor is advising the Narita Airplane museum about exhibitions and attracting visitors etc. For that job he will visit some famous aeronautical museums around the world to see how they do it there. Initially our technical assistant would go with the prof, but due to some recent eye operation he couldn't and the professor asked me to assist during his world trip (something like 10 museums in 10 days in Washington, London, Munchen and Paris). It will be a busy schedule and I have to take notes & photos and help out with some translation maybe... Not much time to relax and go sightseeing it seems, but probably interesting anyway.

To prepare a bit, I went to the narita museum to see what they have now. We got a special tour and demonstrations that are normally only once a week (and only for me and 2 lab-mates now) so of course we are quite biassed in our opinion already...

In the museum they have a 1:10 scale model of a boing 747 and a normal size cockpit behind it. From the cockpit you can control the main parts of the plane (power, rudder, ailerons, elevators, landing gear) and you see what is happening in front of you on the scale model (it also moves like it would in flight, except for the forward motion that is...)

In the demonstrations there was a small wind tunnel to explain air-flow around wing shapes and the effect of the flaps (and many more home made experimental setups to explain lift, drag, hydrolics etc.)

Finally they started up a real helicopter engine just for fun. We could change the power level by ourselves and feel the hot air at the exhaust and hold a metal fan on a stick close to it to see/feel the power of the air flow.

Just outside the building there were more aircraft, some could be entered. They even had one (small but real) where the propeller started rotating after puting 100yen in it

Begin march we went to the Yoshino baigou (Yoshino ume no koen = Yoshino plum park). As Maarten (we used to live in the same student house in Enschede, NL) came to Tokyo and would leave before the cherry blossoms early April, I thought it would be nice to show him the ume instead. However, we were too early as there were only a few trees flowering yet... too bad.

There was some traditional musical / dance performance

Easter 2008 we celebrated in the botanical garden of our university. We baked some cakes in lamb-shape boiled a lot of eggs (some we colored, some we but into the plastic wrappers with a picture printed on them and some we left for hand-painting). A bit less intensive than last year, but still fun (and not so tiring).

the result of egg painting this year


It has already been some time ago, but there is a project going on to prepare for throwing a paper airplane from the international spase station. My professor is helping in the project and the guy sitting next to me in the lab (Konno-san) folds some airplanes for experiments. They are working together with the japanese origami airplane association and recently tested a design in a high speed windtunnel. The paper has some special coating, but there were still some issues with heat concentration on sharp points/edges, so they re-designed the shape and did some new tests. It has been reported by several national and international media, some with movies. See for example:
The Michigan Journal
Pink Tentacle