Research Gone Pear-Shaped

Research is eating me alive, but my actual progress has been virtually nonexistent. Having access to the tunnel is going to turn into a nightmare at the end of this month, which gives me only a couple weeks to get the data I need. That said, I couldn’t get any measurement done this past week. It was as if the lab hated me with a burning passion. Wednesday was spent in a futile attempt to rebuild the $1000 probe, and I had to end by making just a simple one-wire probe for the next day instead. By the end of the day, it felt like someone had stuffed cottonballs in my eye sockets and I couldn’t solder another wire to save my life.

Thursday I got into the tunnel, only to find that the plate’s height had been changed such that I couldn’t perform my experiment. To make matters worse, we don’t know what height the plate was at for the measurement I was trying to match, and the post-doc doesn’t want to change the plate’s height because right now it’s perfect for his set-up. End result: I may have to throw out all my data from this summer. Spent the rest of the afternoon with Stephanie actually getting the $1000 probe remade.

Friday morning I got in a bit late, but we got the $1000 probe all calibrated and ready for a detailed experiment that didn’t require the height of the plate to be altered. We got the probe in the rig, lowered it into place, turned everything on–and got no signal out of the second channel, which had been fine ten minutes before. At that point we had to run out to class, but when we came back we put the probe under the microscope to inspect it. Even at the highest magnification, we could barely see a break in the wire. The fracture had to have been less than a fraction of a micron wide, but air, unfortunately for me, doesn’t have the same resistance as tungsten, so that day’s measurements were also scrapped. We spent the afternoon remaking the probe. Again. I won’t have another shot at getting data until Wednesday and sometime before then I have to explain to my advisor why I haven’t accomplished anything.

I went to a party at the house of one of my fellow second-years on Friday night and had a lot of fun, even though I just sat around and talked while everyone else got to drink. I’d driven over, so I stuck with juice and water. I’m glad that we still manage to socialize despite it all.

I’m continuing to devour book after book in my free time, and even managed to write some 1100 words earlier this week. Sometimes I think it would be great fun to finish my novel, get someone interested in publishing it, and then walk into my advisor’s office to ask for some time off so that I could go publicize my novel. I think the expression on his face would be very entertaining.

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