11 August 2009


From out of the blue this morning, it dawned on me that if I go into a graduate program next year, it does not need to be in math. I double-majored in math & physics as an undergrad, so I've got a B.S. in both. Admittedly, my physics is rusty (so is my ability to spell physicis... that's the third time I've mistyped it, and I'm not fixing that one), but here's the thing: a doctorate in math will just put me back in the same situation I'm in now, unless I'm willing to take any university opening in the hopes of establishing tenure. I'm not. I have very specific areas of the country that I want to be in (Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado... more reluctantly, Montana, Oregon and/or Washington), and that's just not very compatible with an academic job search.

But physics... We've got INL right here, and they do busing out to their site. Having experienced INL rush hour once, I'd be just as happy to ride and save both stress and wear and tear on my car. Now, since I have been out a while, there's no guarantee I'd be accepted to the program, though I'm thinking if I brush up and take the physics GRE and do well enough, I'll be okay. I'll still apply to the math program, but the physics one gives me a heckuva lot more options when the future comes due. Also, the thought of physics courses fills me with curiosity and interest, while the thought of math courses just fills me with...um... See, there's a certain level of abstraction beyond which I stop giving a damn. I need to see a purpose to the thing I'm working on, beyond "it's part of your grade." So some classes I absolutely love, generally applied things like statistics and combinatorics, while others I get sick of as soon as I open the book. Yes, there's abstraction in physics, but there's a point to the abstraction.

FYI, my mind's been doing so much jumping around the past month or so that I may change my mind in another week. Still, this is one of the more plausible ideas I've come up with. It's also a tad ironic. My dad was working on his doctorate in physics at ISU, and his thesis project went screwy, and I guess he just gave up. It was something to do with DNA (using a laser to split it? I'm not sure.), and the foul-up, er, fouled up the department's air for a while, as in it stank to high heaven. I don't know why he didn't try again, or try something else. I'm not going to ask, either, because he's so deep in his schizophrenic paranoia that there's no telling whether what he said would have any resemblance to the truth or not. Hopefully it won't drive me mad. ^/^

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