Friday, September 16, 2005

Goodbye, Credit Cards (or Why I am the Magnet Babe)

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.


brainhell said...

I think the magnet you mention is strong enough to erase data. However, when I tried it on a floppy using a household magnet, thew data was fine.

DearOldDad said...

Ah, what you folks need is a magnetic tape degausser. That’ll erase just about every thing that gets in its path. I have one that I bought back in the early 70’s to scramble reel to reel tapes (it makes them better than new!) I was working at my very first IT job as a tape librarian for a fortune 500 company. I still remember the look on my supervisor’s face after I had bought this thing on my lunch hour and innocently dragged it back to the office mainly because, what else was I supposed to do with it. Anyway, after I bragged about what I had just bought my supervisor went from 0 to 90 in about 3 seconds and told me to get that thing the hell out of here!!! Ahh, youth! Looking back on it, the potential for damage to the corporate data was…HUGE!!

Hairless said...

Try as i might to get credit cards to demag, i have never seen it happen. At least not accidentally. I don't think dentally either. Well other than the dog. But it is hopeless. You are better off cutting them up.

mom said...

tal, thanks for making me realize what it means to REALLY be busy. while we were coming home from our 3 days at the lake (no phone, no tv, no internet) i was freaking out because we left at 11am instead of the usual 10-10:30 that we usually leave by. i was thinking about all the things i had to do when we got home. catch the last half of the twins game, make a little dinner, decide what to wear to work tomorrow, check my email... then i was lamenting the fact that i ONLY got to read 350 pages in my book this weekend. this was do partly to the fact that at 2pm yesterday (prime lake reading time) tom decided that a tree limb that was 30 feet from the ground HAD TO BE REMOVED RIGHT NOW. to his credit he claimed that it would take 1 person 10 minutes to do. well we all know how that goes. it took both of us, an extension ladder, an extension saw (borrowed to us by a neighbor whose sole entertainment was watching us try to get the limb down) and a rope with an old tralier hitch attached (for tork in throwing) and 2 hours to get the limb down. Not to mention the clean-up! did any of this HAVE TO BE DONE? no. that's why i cringe when people say high school college etc are the best years of your life. tal someday you'll have time to read 350 pages in a book or anything else you want to waste a weekend doing and enjoy it like i do. (p.s is it a bad thing about your credit cards?)

mom said...

sideline to dearolddad, i seem to remember your degausser erasing my david lee roth greatest hits (5 songs) cassette "accidentally"!

magnetbabe said...

Yep, our magnet is pretty strong. We like to watch the computer screens get all distorted from the shift in electron paths. Thanks for stopping by and do so whenever you like! I checked out you blog and found it fantastic.

That's a hilarious story. 30 years later and that thing is still going strong! I remember you using it the last time I was home. I wonder how many people in Washington have degaussers...

Nice to hear from you again. I probably should just cut them up. The experimenter in me wants to see if I can do it this way though. Turns out I didn't actaully demag them, even when the magnet is fully charged and I was right up against that sucker. I guess we don't need those warnings up anymore.

350 pages, how luxurious! I know how Tom is when he gets an idea, he wants to act on it NOW. That's how I felt when I decided I needed new speakers in the Green Machine TODAY.

Did David Lee Roth even have 5 hits?!

Scott said...

Hey, sorry I've been away for a while, and thanks for such a long reply to my post. I've been buried, and still have a lot of work to do, but I have to make my rounds before people forget me completely. I had a professor in college that I could not understand either, and it makes me pretty damn mad that such an important core course to my computer science curriculum is at the mercy of my ability to understand stilted english. It should be a crime. Your field sounds fascinating, no pun intended. I admire you.

bubba69 said...

Magnet Babe-I'm never busy, this is your first blog in a long time that I could understand what you were talking about. That intellectual design blog was scary, I thought you were trying to suggest that my ancestors were monkeys or had sex with them or something (next thing you'll be trying to tell us the astronauts really walked on the moon). Anyway, I love magnets, I have alot of them on my refrigerator. What I need to know from you is - will they affect the taste of my beer inside? Some of the cans seem
to be drawn toward the side. I also noted the cheese smelled kind of funny last time I cut it. Could it be the magnets? I'm glad you went back to word verification, when I say them really slow, they do sound dirty.
Still waiting for more on Dean and to have his picture added to you blog site.
Keep up the good work.

Scott said...

You've been tagged.

magnetbabe said...

All of our ancestors were monkeys and some of us are less removed from our ancestors than most. To compensate for this, I suggest you start wearing a steel helmut, espeically when you want to cut down huge tree branches. That way you can stick the magnets from your fridge on it AND intercept secret messages from aliens. Afterall, they know more about this "alledged" moon landing than us. I don't think it's the magnets making your beer and cheese foul, maybe it's the fact that you buy MILLER beer and WISCONSIN cheese. You should really drink Coors Light, like my boyfriend, Joe Mauer. As for the word verification, say this really slowly:
I am sofa king we Todd Ed.