Monday, July 19, 2010

Homage to Rorschach

Timmy's Journal. July 19th, 2010. 12:28 AM.:

Motivation dwindling at work recently. Still have not accomplished task. What to do next? Will have to do a presentation shortly. A bit worried. Would like job to end, but that means school starts soon. A bit excited for school, but nevertheless apprehensive about workload and stress. Referring to both academic and social stress.

Read Watchmen. Good novel. Will reflect in more detail later. Especially liked Rorschach. Interesting character.

Watched movie adaptation. True to novel, but quality nowhere near book. Still, enjoyed casting choices. Liked Laurie and Dan, but imagined Dan more nervous. Also wished Rorschach's voice were less hoarse.

Now reading "Who Do You Think You Are?". Collection of short stories by Alice Munro. Good read so far. Now in the middle section of the book. Rose falls in love with a different man every story. Good thing. Makes her life captivating. Book gets better and better.

Glad I made 25 books goal. Helps deal with loneliness. Feel like I rediscovered something I lost in childhood. In elementary school, used to read a lot of science books. All knowledge came from there. Nowadays, read less, so less knowledge.

Recently, been reading a lot. Gaining a different kind of knowledge. Start to remember now the diverse lives people lead. Perhaps in the past, have only seen things own way.

Still have trouble being empathetic and understanding. But this will help.

Timmy's Journal. July 19th, 2010. 2:44 PM.:

At work now. Professor asked "So, what's new?"

I said, "Nothing much." I've been stuck on experiment. Conversation left guilty feeling inside.

Getting tired of working in lab. Would like to stay home and read or write. Amongst other researchers I feel useless and powerless. They have large-scale experiments. They can brainstorm solutions to fix errors. I am not creative in the same way. No good with hands.

Friday, July 9, 2010

My New Perspectives On Physics

This summer, I've been working with Professor Morris of the Department of Physics. He is the head of the experimental non-linear physics group, as well as the Undergraduate Chair of the department.

I haven't used anything that I've learned last year in my lab. I've forgotten my calculus, the laws electrostatics, and everything remotely related to the word "quantum". Instead, I've traded in my prior physics knowledge for a lot of valuable perspective into the field. In particular, a few things that he said have stuck in my mind.

On Wednesday, during his seminar, he made fun of string theorists and high energy physicists. Professor Morris studies patterns in nature such as icicles or washboard roads or the patterns that syrup makes as it is poured. He said, "You don't have to go to the edges of the Universe to find beauty, and you don't have to go to the LHC. The type of beauty in icicles or washboard roads is the type of beauty that a 3-year old could watch and be fascinated by." In fact, the laboratory-grown stalactites did fascinate me and was the reason why I chose to work in his lab for the summer. I love his mentality and it reminds me of why I chose to major in physics in the first place. Amidst the research of Quantum Gravity and The Higgs Boson and The Behaviour of Gold Atoms at 2 K Under 5 atm, his studies of pattern formation are a breath of fresh air: ordinary, yet fascinating.

He said that, more often than not, string theorists try to fit the data into their theories, instead of their theories into the data. Perhaps, then, scholars of physics and English literature are not that different after all: they both see in their subject the things they wish to see.

Finally, he said "Physicists should be able to do things. If we were placed on an island, we should be able to build a BlackBerry in a given amount of time." That's an interesting take on the role of a physicist. Before this summer, I liked the idea of being a theoretical physicist, of playing with symbols in my head and somehow discovering their relationships. But Professor Morris's opinions must have affected me, because I no longer feel that way. I don't see how sitting in front of a computer playing with math would make me useful to society. I want to be able to do things too. I want to write. I want to express my opinions and inspire people and help change society.

My coworker told me to learn the Fourier Transform well. "It's the most important thing you'll ever learn." With my current career plan, I somehow doubt that this will be true - I doubt I'll need to Fourier transform my writing - but who knows?