Greg Baker, 30272726.
School : M.P.C.E., 2nd year.
Degree : B.Sc. Advanced.
13th June, 1993 (Earth-based).
I am writing to you with respect to the forthcoming PHYS 323 (General Relativity and Cosmology II) exam. I would like to ask
(1) That I be allowed to sit for the exam off-campus,
(2) That I may complete the exam in my own time, and
(3) That special consideration is given to my grade, considering the extenuating circumstances of my last few weeks.
While I understand that (1) and (2) are very rarely granted at this university and only under very stringent conditions, I think my predicament is sufficiently rare for it not to set a precedent.
In the final practical session for PHYS 323 on Wednesday 26th May this year, I was (with my lab partner) completing experiment R26 (In this experiment students measure the objective versus subjective time for each half of the "twin" paradox) . As you know, PHYS 323 is a new course this year, and this was the first occasion that this particular experiment had been attempted by students. I believe the instructions were a little unclear, and consequently, instead of travelling for 10 minutes out-and-back at 0.96c, we accidently programmed the ship computer to travel at this speed for 10 months (objective time). [Please see attached declarations and reports from Siding Springs and Jodrel Bank].
Fortunately, this was the last practical session for PHYS 323, so I have not missed any compulsory-attendance classes. Nevertheless, it may be exceptionally difficult for me to attend the end-of-semester exam if I am required to sit it on campus. I have spoken to the Centre for Evening and External Studies, and also to Examinations, and both are prepared to make an exception in this case, pending your approval.
The other major problem that I may have in sitting the exam is that there will be a major discrepancy between us as to when exactly 9:20 a.m. on June 28th will be. Should I start writing at 9:20 as far as my own subjective time is concerned, or should we attempt to synchronise in some way? Please note that if you decide the latter, I would like to have some special consideration as I may lose up to a week of stuvac.
Secondly, it will appear to an earth-based observer that only 36 minutes will pass on this ship in the time of the three hour exam. Symmetrically, the rule of no-one being allowed to leave the exam room within the first hour (presumably earth-based time) means that I will suffer at least five subjective hours before I am allowed to leave. Hence why I ask (2) above.
One further problem involving the exam is that it may be impossible for any examination officials to be present. I am currently 17.28 light-days out from Earth, and there are only 15 days until the exam begins. Might I suggest that you keep a close eye on the Examinations Centre, and see if any hyperspatial research is done there in the next fortnight?
With regard to (3), it has been very difficult to attend classes for the last two and a half weeks. While I have had a friend transmit recordings of the lectures to me at regular intervals, there have been a few problems with this. Even not allowing for the time dilation between us, our relative velocities mean that one minute of recording takes twenty minutes of receiving time. Furthermore, even though some of the better lasers have spreads in the order of 1 part in 10 million, over the distance of 17.28 light-days (and fast increasing) this roughly corresponds to a laser beam some 42 000 km across, giving an unimaginably high signal-to-noise ratio.
I hope that this will give you some guide to why I think these concessions should be granted,
P.S. Could you pass a message on to Austudy to confirm that I do now qualify for the living-away-from-home rate, as I am more than 45 minutes by public transport from my parents' home.
P.P.S. Seeing the difficulties that have arisen in PHYS 323, might I suggest scrapping (or at least making not assessable) the prac. component of PHYS 329 (Alternate Universes and Space-Time Singularities) ?