It's seven o'clock on a Friday night and I'm still at work. I think I just erased the magnetic strip on my student ID and two of my credit cards. I work with a superconducting magnet that is putting out a field of 7 Tesla, or 10,000,000,000 times the strength of the Earth's magnetic field. The good part is that I'm getting good data, which means that after being up since 6:30 this morning I must be running on pure adreneline. I'm fantisizing right now about these results getting publishing in Physical Review Letters, the New York Times of the Physics community. This is opposed to the usual Journal of Applied Physics (where I normally publish), the equivalent of, say, The Chicago Tribune. Not bad by any means..... but no New York Times.
The third week of the semester is over. Thank heavens. Usually as a researcher semesters mean nothing to me. This semester, I am finishing up those two pesky classes left before I can do my PhD candidacy. Forgetting what a hellish experience grad classes are, I thought, "I'll still have plenty of time for a life!" Wrong. What ever time I haven't spent working or studying I've been a complete bitch due to being stressed out about the work or studying I should be doing. Poor Dean has gotten the worst of it, which doesn't help as he started his new job this week (congratulations, Deano!). I miss having him on campus close to me, having lunch together and carpooling, but the money is too good to pass up. Maybe this year we'll be able to move out of the Tampa ghetto!
So the reasons I have no life right now. My two classes are biophysics and solid state physics part 2. I'm going to describe why they both suck. Biophysics is the hottest field in physics right now, which as a purest makes me completely skeptical of it. It doesn't help that my professor has such a strong accent I can't understand a single word he says. For a topic where nomenclature is key, this is quite frustrating. He is obviously a nice guy and very excited about biophysics because he is always gesturing wildly, but I understand nothing. Then, rather than handing out homework, he dictates the assignments to us. Lord only knows if what I turned in on Thursday was remotely close to what he asked for.
My solid state 2 class is very interesting but taught by a professor that is known as the toughest in the department. He's always thinking of these creative ways to torture people. He came up with a good way this semester. He assigns the hardest homeworks ever. For this semester, he is making up half the problems and for the other half, assigning problems out of the textbook. However, the solutions to the textbook problems are in the back of the book. Our job is to fill in the missing steps and completely understand the problem. Since he doesn't want to grade these problems, every week he calls on a student to come to the board (because we're in 5th grade?), work the problem out while explaining it and then answer questions from him about it. Only one student per week has to present, but since we don't know who it will be ahead of time, we all have to do all of the problems. Clever. Anyway, rather than enjoying a class where the primary topic is magnetism, my field, I sit there developing an ulcer all class period terrified of being called upon. It doesn't help that I'm the only woman in the class and get teased incessantly. The guys are always "volunteering me". Since I haven't been called on yet, this might have actually worked to my advantage. It still doesn't alleviate my discomfort of being the only woman and feeling like that means I must do above average just to prove myself.
Couple these factors with research, the gym, book group (it took me 2 weeks to get through Their Eyes were Watching God at a miserable pace of 15 pages a night before passing out from exhaustion), kitties and phone calls at work from Dean saying "I think I left the iron on, would you go home and check?" and now you know why I haven't been blogging much. So what's the point? It's now 7:45 on Friday night, I'm bored waiting for my experiment to finish. I am vindicated by knowing that now you are probably bored too.