Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What is Research?

Nobody really knows. Albert Einstein said, "if we knew what we were doing it wouldn't be called research".

Most research starts out to prove something or discover something. Sometimes those things we are trying to prove we end up disproving. At least I always did in high school. Now that I'm in grad school we keep pounding away until we prove what we tried to in the first place. It is not always that way, a number of my doctor friends have proven things that nobody else knew or that was counterintuitive. In my case however we have measurements that my simulations have to match and we have the recipe for how to get there. The problem is putting it all together and making it all agree with each other. 

Research takes a certain type of person. You have to be stubborn to keep trying after numerous failures. You have to have a little memory loss so that you forget how it feels to have an experiment fail. You have to have a good memory so that you do not make the same mistakes twice. You have to focus on the task and not the timeline. Experiments do not automatically work because it is finals week. Before committing your life to research take a good look at yourself and be as honest as you can. Research is hard work, that's why people get doctorate degrees and nobel prizes. It is not for everybody but if we want to keep pushing science we need those dedicated minds to suffer for us. 

Work hard, play hard my friends.

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