My internet connection has been spotty the last few days. Apparently there is a problem with an undersea cable between Djibouti and Port Sudan. Hard to imagine this will get fixed anytime soon. Nevertheless, the connection is still pretty decent. It is hard to stream video, but most everything else still works, albeit at reduced speeds.
Last night I was skyping with Doreen. As usual, I was on my balcony. Crickets were loudly serenading me. I could hear an echo of the crickets coming back to me via skype. The delay was about four seconds. It was slightly distracting. And then I stopped and thought about it. The sound of a cricket chirping in Kigali is picked up by my microphone. It travels approximately 11,000 km to my home in Maine. The sound is played on Doreen's speakers. Doreen's microphone picks up the cricket sounds and transmits it to me, back in Kigali 11,000 km away. The entire process took around 4 seconds. So the signal traveled at 5500 km/s, or about 1.8 % of the speed of light. This is difficult to fathom.
In other Kigali news, I seem to be having a string of bad Mondays. Today hasn't been as bad as a few previous Mondays, but it has still been somewhat annoying. I've done a lot of work the last two days, the majority of which seems pointless. I have done lots of grading of labs and homework assignments the last few days. More than three quarters of my general physics students still do not know the difference between precision and accuracy. It is clear that they haven't encountered these ideas before, and that the language barrier does not help.
I would estimate that around half of my computational physics students do essentially no work on their own, but instead get solutions to problems from other students. This is a common practice here and is not necessarily viewed as dishonest by everyone. I will structure things differently next term to minimize this. (There will be a lot more quizzes and less homework. I don't prefer teaching this way, but I don't see that I have a choice.)
A highlight of the day was a tasty, quick Indian meal for dinner. I was going to cook at home, but the kitchen was in heavy use so I zipped downtown and had a nice veg thali for a little over five dollars. It was definitely worth it.