Sunday, August 05, 2007

More of the same


  • Cool crystals and scary skateboarding fall.
  • From Slashdot, the physics of beer bubbles.
  • From Gizmodo, a big truck to assemble telescopes.
  • Sean's three-part series on what it takes to get a theory paper out got me thinking that there can be much more stress to it. It's not always (often?) that one simply chats with colleagues or has epiphanies in upscale bars (my epiphanies usually come in the shower). What's missing from his discussion is the stress, the drive, the stubborn refusal to let some issue stand in the way. I'm working on a problem right now that is ostensibly easy. But as I got close it became clear that I needed to change how I was computing something. Fine, I knew how to do that. But the method didn't quite work as expected. A certain instability was preventing getting a result. A few hours later, I remembered another trick that should overcome that problem. I still have to implement and then I should be on track again...at least until something else creeps up and tries to block me. That's the thing with research. You have to have an attitude that you'll get to the end, otherwise you'll just move on to something easier (and presumably less significant). You can't just go home 5pm, show up at the office at 9am and say to yourself, "Ok, let's see what we can do about that problem today." It's mostly self-driven and most people outside of research don't have much of a clue. But more importantly this type of stress can make personal relationships tough. I don't have any hard numbers, but it seems academic physics research has more than its share of divorces.

1 comment:

Joel Deguito said...

That's true but you must face the problem...

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