Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Good Day

Today I rode my bike to work. 14 miles there and 14 miles back. It rained all the way home. That sort of sucked, but it wasn't that bad. I think that riding my bike gets me all energized and pumped, giving me energy to do my wonderful job!

I also have been huddling in a room with another person every Thursday morning and writing. We have committed to writing during this time every week. So, last week I wrote proposal stuff. This week I actually worked on a paper! Holy crap! Paper? Yes! I made a few figures and started working on the paper, which I started about a year ago.

I did have a conversation with one of my students about what she wants to do with the rest of her life and more specifically about what she wants to do in the next year before she finishes. This was an interesting conversation. My student is extremely talented in just about everything that she does, but she doesn't really seem to like to do science. Science is extremely hard. It involves realizing that the solution is not straight forward. That may be a trivial thing to say, but it is hard to take. In everything that everyone does throughout school, there is a solution. It may be extremely hard to get to that solution, but there is a solution. With science, there may not be enough data or the simulations may be extremely difficult to figure out. If you hit your head against this wall over and over and over again, when you have never had to hit your head before, it is hard to take. This is a lesson that she will have to learn. It is not an easy lesson. It sucks.

I actually have no real idea how to teach her this. She is obviously smarter than I am and pretty much an equal when it comes to coding and such. How do I then teach her how to think independently and come up with unique solutions? All I basically do is tell her what I would do next. Lead by example. I am not really sure if this is the best way to teach something like this, but I'll give it a go for a while.

My Post Doc is doing pretty well. He has made a bunch of code modifications to a model that I developed and is starting to get some results. One of the problems that we are running into is that the model is slow - most other models that are of this type are simplified so they can run fast. My model is not simplified, so it runs slow. We have optimized the crap out out it, so it runs about 2-3 times faster than it did about 6 months ago, but if you are used to using a model that runs a day in about 4 hours on your desktop and you need 64 processors of a supercomputer to do the same thing, it is a drag. But, he is working on it. We have a pretty hard deadline to get some of the research done. I am going to a meeting next week and he is going to Europe the following week. Both of us have to give presentations on what he is doing. Needless to say, it is put up or shut up time. He is confident in the put up, so tomorrow he has to show me results. Should be another good day, eh?

Then one of the undergrads that is working for me finished one of the steps in a 100,000 step process. He didn't really know how to program before he started work 5 weeks ago. He learned Fortran90 and a bit of IDL, then played with C to reproduce what he did in Fortran. Next he has to learn how to program in CUDA, which is NVIDIA's parallel programming language. Did you know that your video card in your computer is like a little super computer? Why do you think that you can play Quake so well (ok, I don't know what the latest 3D games are... 3D Pac-Man? Actually, Halo 3 would be my best bet...) So, you can program your video card to do a bunch of really, really simple math very, very quickly. The key is to figure out how to do it. My undergrad is going to figure it out. Hopefully. Well, enough that I or someone else can take what he did and figure it out.

When I got home, the wife had dinner ready. It was soup and bread, which is good, since we tend to over eat a LOT, so having a light meal is great a couple days a week. I got to read to the kids for about 30 minutes (over half way through Eragon now - he's in jail! What's going to happen???? Tune in tomorrow, unless Crab Boy has a sleep over, in which case, tune in Saturday.)

And now I am blogging. A couple days in a row. Wow!

Ahhh... I was also going to start putting in lyrics to songs that have some meaning to me. Like the other day's Gun's and Roses lyrics. But different.

Let's play name this song....

When you try your best, but you don't succeed
When you get what you want, but not what you need
When you feel so tired but you can't sleep
Stuck in reverse

Ok, that is probably pretty obvious. But, there it is. Maybe I will make it harder and harder and harder, so only Rico can answer!


drumgeek said...

Oh, science is so hard. I'm so smart. Making movies is hard too, damn it, making movies is hard too...

Space Prof said...

Is the above comment supposed to be funny, or sarcastic, or something? I don't get it.

Crab Man: "Fix You"