Maternity leave has been a bit bizarre. After all, what do you do with the day when you don't have a giant list of stuff to do? Actually, I do have a giant list, but because its not work related, it feels like most of it could be comfortably ignored. I don't think that will last long!
Today, waiting for several deliveries and people to pick up freecycled junk has been greatly enlivened by the turning on of the Large Hadron Collider. I have sat happily on the sofa listening to the coverage on Radio 4 while watching the live broadcast from the control room on BBC News on silent! A part of me kept remembering the pictures of the control room after Arianne blew up - all those discarded, mostly-full bottles of champagne!
The coverage wasn't too bad. All the presenters made a pretty good job of staying "interested" until the beam had got all the way around, and eventually even John Humphries stopped burbling about the end of the world. They all seemed to conveniently forget that the end of the world won't come until they actually collide the beams!
What made me turn off in the end was the BBC deciding to read text messages from the general public. Then I really did have to restrain myself from throwing things at the radio. Lots of comments about what a waste of money it was when there were starving orphans in Africa (obviously from people who don't use the internet!!), and others objecting to scientists trying to prove there was no God (must be from creationists!).
The most useful part of the morning was the discussion on Woman's Hour about why there are so few women physicists. By that time I was starting to miss actually being in physics, and pondering all the what ifs. But one of the women on the programme was the same age as me and talking about the difficulties of short contract post docs, antisocial hours, and the fact that as a scientist you need to be your most attractive to employers (eg through loads of publications and long hours in strange places) at exactly this point. The point when you really want to be getting on with the whole procreation thing.
Good point, well made. Actually I don't want to be a kick-ass physicist that much.