Archive for September, 2009

Unpaid Internships and Power

Because I have always had my eye on academia, there are many things I don’t know about the business world, including the process of getting started as a young person and moving up the ranks.  However, whenever I hear aspiring business-types talk, internships perpetually come up.  Internships seem to be central to the plan of getting experience, getting noticed, and getting on track to a good job.  And the accompanying question is always asked: is the internship paid or unpaid?

Before today, this question never fazed me.  I have always been paid for my internship-like research experiences, but I was not surprised that in some fields, people paid their dues by working for free.  However, a blog entry that I read today completely changed my mind, and not in the direction that the author intended.

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Cumulative Links Dump

It’s Friday afternoon, time for you to goof off with this list of links that I’ve saved up over the past few weeks:

  • Advanced physcis labs — What we expect from them, what we should expect from them, how to change them.  My experience with advanced lab didn’t teach me all that much, and wasn’t all that rigorous.  I didn’t mind, since I had my mind made up to be a theorist anyway.  Plus, we were all required to do a senior research project, which filled in many holes, along with our fairly demanding modern physics lab.  But a more challenging advaced lab might have been like foul-tasting medicine that would make me better off today.
  • Physics Toolbox: Symmetry: The return of Morning Coffee Physics!  Explains the role of symmetry in physics.
  • Cities and Ambition — What does your city say to its ambitious people?  I’ve been trying to figure out the underlying message in Minneapolis, but haven’t quite gotten there yet.  Plus, it’s interesting to think about ranking cities by the quality of the eavesdropping that you can do.
  • Grad School and Vacations, PhD Comics — Q: So what do we get? A: Exploited, mostly.
  • Impossible Tasks, PhD Comics — I think we all go through this at some point.  Not quite as disheartening as saying it’s impossible and then having your adviser do it in five minutes, though
  • Thoughts on Grad School: Trying to employ as many of these tips as possible this semester.  Especially intriguing: #10  Take Days Off.
  • Most Depressing Ideas in Physics: The eventual heat death of the universe is harshin’ my mellow.

Going Greener With Alternative Power

It’s been a little over a year since I blogged about my carbon footprint, and detailed some of the steps that I was taking to reduce my environmental impact.  Here’s an update, along with a new step that I encourage all of you to look into: purchasing electricity from alternative energy sources.

Car-Free Existence

I grew up dependent on cars for transportation, but I’ve found the transition to not owning a car to be pretty easy.  I ride my bike when the weather cooperates, 8 miles round trip to school (EDIT: Closer to 6 miles, now that I’ve found a faster and shorter route).  Thanks to a good network of bike lanes and trails, plus (mostly) conscientious drivers, my bike commute is usually pretty nice.  I can definitely see why Minneapolis is considered the #2 bike friendly city in America.

UPDATE: If you’re hesitant to start biking places because you’re not sure you’d be able to find a route, Google Maps now has bicycling directions that are fairly good.

When it rains, and during the winter, I take the bus.  This is also very convenient, as the Twin Cities have good public transportation.  I can use Google Maps to find the best route at any given time.  Plus, it’s great that the Twin Cities have a growing number of hybrid electric buses, which furthers the cause of going green.

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Unsolicited Advice, Volume I

So you want to be a physicist?  Hey, me too!  While I don’t know everything there is to know about getting there, I might be farther along than you are, and have some wisdom that I’ve accrued along the way that I can impart to you, even though you never asked for it.  Hence, this series of Unsolicited Advice.  (I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the inspiration I got from Cosmic Variance.  Plus I borrowed stole the name.)

Since this is Volume I, we’ll start early: before college.

Nurture Your Interest

If you’re reading this, and you’re not yet in college, then I’m willing to bet that you got interested in physics by reading one of the many popular books on physics.  It’s a great way to get into physics (it’s the way I got into it all those years ago).  You should continue to feed that interest in any way you can: read more books, watch tv specials, and discuss what you’ve learned with anyone who will listen. Continue reading ‘Unsolicited Advice, Volume I’