The idea of getting a C feels rather refreshing - Social Anxiety Forum
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post #1 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-14-2018, 08:34 AM Thread Starter
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The idea of getting a C feels rather refreshing


I am taking a certain graduate level class where they have no exams at all, they just gave a large list of homework problems and I have to do only some portion of them for an A+, smaller portion for A, smaller portion for B, smaller portion for C, etc. I can decide when in the semester I do what problem. In any case, I am probably half a semester through and I am one problem short of a C. Well, in graduate school they like to inflate grades so getting a C is horrible and I won't let it happen. But sometimes I think "hey wouldn't it be kinda nice if I did in fact get a C". The whole concept of a C reminds me of my undergraduate years when I was much younger than I am now. Getting a C at the age of 20 is much better than getting an A at the age of 38.

In fact, back when I had a girlfriend -- at the age of 33 (and she broke up with me when I was 34) I told her "if someone were to give me an option of becoming 10 years younger, at the exchange of never seeing you again, I would totally do that without the slightest hesitation or regret". Needless to say, she got upset about it, but it turns out she misunderstood what I meant: she thought I was alluding to the idea that I would be dating younger women if I was younger. Nope, that had nothing to do with it. I was alluding to having my opportunities as a theoretical physicist ahead of me. Once she understood it, surprisingly enough, she was no longer angry, she said "yeah, I would also rather be younger than date you" and we continued dating for another year but then she broke up over other things (have no idea what, I couldn't get her to tell me).

Well, right now I am both old AND single. And I desperately want a girlfriend to alleviate my single-loser status. But then again, what I want even more than a girlfriend is to go back to the past and be younger again. Unfortunately, I can't do that, so I have to stick to second-best things, such as trying to find a girlfriend OR trying to get my physics papers published.

Yeah, speaking of publications, if I was 20 year old right now, having 3 physics publications would look great, everyone would be impressed. But now, at 38, I am way behind: most people have 15 or 20 publications. So there are two ways of solving my problem: getting 15 or 20 publications OR getting 15 years younger. I would certainly prefer to get 15 years younger. But since I can't do that, oh well, I have to try to get published.

Going back to that course I was talking about, an idea of getting a C in that course feels quite refreshing. Sort of reminds me of that rainy day, back in Minneapolis, when I was 23, sitting on that bench and reading a physics book. No, I didn't get any C grades in Minneapolis. But the rainy day kinda feels that way. Rather be in a rainy day and younger than in the sunny day and older. But no, I won't get a C in that class -- I am more responsible than that. But just the idea that *IF* I solve that one more homework problem and forget about the class I would get a C, kind of feels refreshing.

P.S. I miss good old Minneapolis.
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post #2 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-14-2018, 09:14 AM
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I agree with this 1000%

Enough about me, lets talk about you, what do you think about me?
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post #3 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-14-2018, 10:05 AM
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I'm also trying to get papers published, after having 3 published from my PhD. And I also am having a hard time, trying to get it going, and I keep wishing I was 10 years younger so that I wouldn't have wasted so much time being anxious and just avoidant in many ways. Also I don't have a girlfriend and being this age doesn't exactly help, since everyone my age is either married or would expect more from me than what my loser life has become. I guess us loser physicists are doomed to (metaphorically) living under a bridge scaring all the children who walk by.
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post #4 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-15-2018, 08:26 AM
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Surely you are excited about some aspect of physics, otherwise you would not be devoting your life to studying it. Why the dearth of papers? Nothing interesting? Bored with your major? Has the fun gone out of physics for you?

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post #5 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-15-2018, 09:28 AM Thread Starter
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@causalset

Surely you are excited about some aspect of physics, otherwise you would not be devoting your life to studying it. Why the dearth of papers? Nothing interesting? Bored with your major? Has the fun gone out of physics for you?
The short answer is: yes I am excited about physics but I am not excited about where my career is going.

Let me explain the whole context of it in a laymen terms. So you probably heard about the fact that quantum mechanics contradicts the intuition. Now, when I was studying quantum mechanics, I was *not* getting disracted off of that tangent because, in the very first week of quantum mechanics course, the professor told us about all of the paradoxes and that they are still aren't fully resolved. Now, don't get me wrong: I did, very much, intend to devote my future career to resolving those paradoxes. But take a note of the word "future". In other words, the one thing I didn't do, is I didn't say "I can't read the next chapter of the quantum mechanics book until I answer those questions". Well, unfortunately, the situation with quantum field theory didn't turn out as nicely. The professor did NOT spend the first week of quantum field theory course telling us ahead of time what it is we would be confused about and that nobody can answer those questions. So I was thinking I was the only one being confused by those things and, indeed, I decided to try and resolve them before reading the next chapter of the book. Thats how I screwed myself over.

In any case, few years after I have received my Physics PH.D. I have, in fact, answered "some" of the questions I had (the ones I didn't answer, I finally realized I can live with it; but the ones that I probably still won't be able to live with, I answered). I posted my answers to the website called arxiv.org (the way it works is you can search for the authors name and see all their papers; I won't post my name publically but if you, or anyone else, want to see my papers I can send you PM privately with my full name). In any case, the papers posted on that website don't count as publications: yes they can protect me from my ideas being stolen (it would be unethical for anyone to publish this without giving me credit) but at the same time they won't count as publications when I include those things on my CV when I apply for jobs. What counts is the papers I have in peer reviewed journals. Normally, people submit the paper to both arxiv.org and to peer review journal, that way people can read it right away, from arxiv, while the paper awaits being published in a journal. Thats what I did, but in my case the journals rejected most of my papers. I have only 3 of those 29 papers published in journals. Most people who look for physics jobs have 15 or 20 papers published, so I am far behind.

Now, I can see one reason my work doesn't get published. A lot of it has to do with saying "quantum field theory as such is counterintuitive but if I make up this or that which is going on in the extra dimension or whatever then it won't be counterintuitive any more". But you see, there are multiple ways to make things up to make it up to my standard, so how do I know that specific proposal is what indeed happens in nature rather than one of the mirriad of other things I might come up with? The answer is I don't. But I need to see "at least one possibility" in order to be able to accept quantum field theory as such. So, if quantum field theory textbook were to provide three or four chapters each outlining a distinct possibility of how different concepts are "possible", THEN it would make sense for them to write in the chapter after that "you see, you can't really prove which of those possibilities take place, so let us now drop the speculation and deal with such and such abstract concept". If it was presented to me this way, then I would have no trouble accepting those abstract concepts, I know that. Since they didn't do those supposed few chapters, I had to, instead, write the papers that I wrote. Once I wrote those papers I moved onto the next step in realizing that I should accept the abstract things they tried to teach me, after all. But the problem is that it took me 15 years to do that. So now I feel like I wasted all those years.

One way for me "not to" have wasted those 15 years is to actually get those papers published. Even though none of them can be proven, I can argue they are worth publishing since they make a difference between me being or not being stuck in quantum field theory questions. But I guess nobody besides me was stuck on those things. Thats why, 15 years ago, when I was running around the offices and asking those questions nobody could really answer since they didn't know what I was asking on the first place. Well, for the same reason that 15 years ago they didn't see what I was asking, right now they aren't seeing what it is I answered -- hence they refuse to publish it. I suspect part of it might be my writing style. The way I express things sounds quite convolutted to people.

As a postdoc, I was trying to get professors to edit my work, but they were saying one week later, one week later, etc. etc. tec. and never actually got to editing it. Thats why I decided to go back to graduate school since, as a graduate student, it is their responsibility to hlp me. But you see, in order to make it look legit, I decided to go to math graduate school rather than physics: that way I can say my first phd. was in physics, second in math, so I am not repeating the same thing. But mathematicians don't know any physics, so they can't really help me either. I found two professors that tried to accommodate me, so they gave me projects that are on interface between the math they are doing and physics I might be interested in.

One of those two professors agreed with my idea on connecting my prior work to his work -- but that refers to ONE of the papers I posted, so even if we succeed, that would amound to my having 4 out of 29 papers published instead of 3 out of 29. Not much difference. But in any case, since he is a mathematician and not a physicist, it seems like he isn't focused on trying to understand my ideas but instead he is focused on some small tiny details. Like he keeps complaining that what I give him each week is constantly changing. But I didn't actually make any of those changes, I simply wrote the same thing in slightly different terms. I guess I should try to use cut and paste a bit more to keep him from saying I change things. Also when I use the simplest physics notions that physicist take for granted, he asks me to prove it. But why should I prove it if its not even my idea at all, its a basic common knowledge. So when he spends all the time asks me to prove basic stuff we never have time to actually get to my ideas and what I want to do with them. And its already been a year I been working with him and we are just running in circles.

The other professor gave me a project that has nothing to do with my prior work but instead it has to do with string theory. But you see, I don't know string theory because, back when I was studying it several years ago, I kept getting stuck on those tangential questions I was having and couldn't read further until I no longer stuck. Like I said, right now I am no longer stuck on those questions (thanks to the arXiv papers that I wrote) so I am ready to go ahead and study string theory like most people do. But you see, I am in math department, not in physics, so when I have "normal" questions as I read the book I can't really go to my math advisors and ask those questions since they know a lot less string theory than I do. So finally when I couldn't really move forward with string theory, that professor switched it over to quantum mechanics question and I already knwo quantum mechanics so no need to try to understand any textbooks. But the question that he gave is really just a math question in the physics context, there is no new fundamental physics insides involved. But I guess from what some people tell me trying to do fundamentally new stuff as a graduate student is way too ambitious and its normal to do some small stuff first. But will physicists care about that particular problem he gave me? Based on what *HE* says, mathematicians would care physicists won't.

So yeah, I guess I wish I was in a physics department which is why I want to go back to the past so badly.
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post #6 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-15-2018, 09:35 AM Thread Starter
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I'm also trying to get papers published, after having 3 published from my PhD. And I also am having a hard time, trying to get it going, and I keep wishing I was 10 years younger so that I wouldn't have wasted so much time being anxious and just avoidant in many ways. Also I don't have a girlfriend and being this age doesn't exactly help, since everyone my age is either married or would expect more from me that what my loser life has become. I guess us loser physicists are doomed to (metaphorically) living under a bridge scaring all the children who walk by.
Its interesting we have the same exact number of publications. So what area of physics were you specializing at? Are you still a postdoc or did you have to give up and do some other job? In my case I am determined to work n theoretical physics so I refuse to teach in communicty college or liberal arts college and/or work in the lab. But were you forced to do some of those things?
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post #7 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-15-2018, 05:37 PM
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The short answer is: yes I am excited about physics but I am not excited about where my career is going.

Let me explain the whole context of it in a laymen terms. So you probably heard about the fact that quantum mechanics contradicts the intuition. Now, when I was studying quantum mechanics, I was *not* getting disracted off of that tangent because, in the very first week of quantum mechanics course, the professor told us about all of the paradoxes and that they are still aren't fully resolved. Now, don't get me wrong: I did, very much, intend to devote my future career to resolving those paradoxes. But take a note of the word "future". In other words, the one thing I didn't do, is I didn't say "I can't read the next chapter of the quantum mechanics book until I answer those questions". Well, unfortunately, the situation with quantum field theory didn't turn out as nicely. The professor did NOT spend the first week of quantum field theory course telling us ahead of time what it is we would be confused about and that nobody can answer those questions. So I was thinking I was the only one being confused by those things and, indeed, I decided to try and resolve them before reading the next chapter of the book. Thats how I screwed myself over.

In any case, few years after I have received my Physics PH.D. I have, in fact, answered "some" of the questions I had (the ones I didn't answer, I finally realized I can live with it; but the ones that I probably still won't be able to live with, I answered). I posted my answers to the website called arxiv.org (the way it works is you can search for the authors name and see all their papers; I won't post my name publically but if you, or anyone else, want to see my papers I can send you PM privately with my full name). In any case, the papers posted on that website don't count as publications: yes they can protect me from my ideas being stolen (it would be unethical for anyone to publish this without giving me credit) but at the same time they won't count as publications when I include those things on my CV when I apply for jobs. What counts is the papers I have in peer reviewed journals. Normally, people submit the paper to both arxiv.org and to peer review journal, that way people can read it right away, from arxiv, while the paper awaits being published in a journal. Thats what I did, but in my case the journals rejected most of my papers. I have only 3 of those 29 papers published in journals. Most people who look for physics jobs have 15 or 20 papers published, so I am far behind.

Now, I can see one reason my work doesn't get published. A lot of it has to do with saying "quantum field theory as such is counterintuitive but if I make up this or that which is going on in the extra dimension or whatever then it won't be counterintuitive any more". But you see, there are multiple ways to make things up to make it up to my standard, so how do I know that specific proposal is what indeed happens in nature rather than one of the mirriad of other things I might come up with? The answer is I don't. But I need to see "at least one possibility" in order to be able to accept quantum field theory as such. So, if quantum field theory textbook were to provide three or four chapters each outlining a distinct possibility of how different concepts are "possible", THEN it would make sense for them to write in the chapter after that "you see, you can't really prove which of those possibilities take place, so let us now drop the speculation and deal with such and such abstract concept". If it was presented to me this way, then I would have no trouble accepting those abstract concepts, I know that. Since they didn't do those supposed few chapters, I had to, instead, write the papers that I wrote. Once I wrote those papers I moved onto the next step in realizing that I should accept the abstract things they tried to teach me, after all. But the problem is that it took me 15 years to do that. So now I feel like I wasted all those years.

One way for me "not to" have wasted those 15 years is to actually get those papers published. Even though none of them can be proven, I can argue they are worth publishing since they make a difference between me being or not being stuck in quantum field theory questions. But I guess nobody besides me was stuck on those things. Thats why, 15 years ago, when I was running around the offices and asking those questions nobody could really answer since they didn't know what I was asking on the first place. Well, for the same reason that 15 years ago they didn't see what I was asking, right now they aren't seeing what it is I answered -- hence they refuse to publish it. I suspect part of it might be my writing style. The way I express things sounds quite convolutted to people.

As a postdoc, I was trying to get professors to edit my work, but they were saying one week later, one week later, etc. etc. tec. and never actually got to editing it. Thats why I decided to go back to graduate school since, as a graduate student, it is their responsibility to hlp me. But you see, in order to make it look legit, I decided to go to math graduate school rather than physics: that way I can say my first phd. was in physics, second in math, so I am not repeating the same thing. But mathematicians don't know any physics, so they can't really help me either. I found two professors that tried to accommodate me, so they gave me projects that are on interface between the math they are doing and physics I might be interested in.

One of those two professors agreed with my idea on connecting my prior work to his work -- but that refers to ONE of the papers I posted, so even if we succeed, that would amound to my having 4 out of 29 papers published instead of 3 out of 29. Not much difference. But in any case, since he is a mathematician and not a physicist, it seems like he isn't focused on trying to understand my ideas but instead he is focused on some small tiny details. Like he keeps complaining that what I give him each week is constantly changing. But I didn't actually make any of those changes, I simply wrote the same thing in slightly different terms. I guess I should try to use cut and paste a bit more to keep him from saying I change things. Also when I use the simplest physics notions that physicist take for granted, he asks me to prove it. But why should I prove it if its not even my idea at all, its a basic common knowledge. So when he spends all the time asks me to prove basic stuff we never have time to actually get to my ideas and what I want to do with them. And its already been a year I been working with him and we are just running in circles.

The other professor gave me a project that has nothing to do with my prior work but instead it has to do with string theory. But you see, I don't know string theory because, back when I was studying it several years ago, I kept getting stuck on those tangential questions I was having and couldn't read further until I no longer stuck. Like I said, right now I am no longer stuck on those questions (thanks to the arXiv papers that I wrote) so I am ready to go ahead and study string theory like most people do. But you see, I am in math department, not in physics, so when I have "normal" questions as I read the book I can't really go to my math advisors and ask those questions since they know a lot less string theory than I do. So finally when I couldn't really move forward with string theory, that professor switched it over to quantum mechanics question and I already knwo quantum mechanics so no need to try to understand any textbooks. But the question that he gave is really just a math question in the physics context, there is no new fundamental physics insides involved. But I guess from what some people tell me trying to do fundamentally new stuff as a graduate student is way too ambitious and its normal to do some small stuff first. But will physicists care about that particular problem he gave me? Based on what *HE* says, mathematicians would care physicists won't.

So yeah, I guess I wish I was in a physics department which is why I want to go back to the past so badly.
Thank you for such an in depth explanation of your situation. Here's a summary of some things I thought while reading it.

It sounds like your need to come up with subjective, personally acceptable, solutions to the problems presented in Chapter one, demanded your immediate attention and that the mechanics of how to explore those problems covered in subsequent chapters was reinvented by you, so that you could solve the problems before learning the established way of doing so (which were covered in subsequent chapters). So the people who are reviewing your papers are not accepting them because you have not presented your findings in the lingua franca of the standard methodology presented in the subsequent chapters. I am diagnosed asperger's too and I can well understand how that can happen. I think that it's an obsessive compulsive sort of thing.

Your name, @causalset , together with a quick bit of googling makes me think that you must be interested in the deep nature of space time and energy.

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post #8 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-15-2018, 06:21 PM
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post #9 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-15-2018, 06:37 PM Thread Starter
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@Erroll If the issues I has with the first chapter were explained in subsequent chapters, I would have just read further to see the answers. The whole point is that they weren't explained any place further. The subsequent chapters were simply developing more and more stuff based on the assumption that the reader accepts chapter 1 as a given -- and I didn't.

As far as publications go, a publication regarding this or that chapter in a book is typically not acceptable (regardless of whether it is first chapter or last chapter or any chapter in between) because publication is supposed to be an original work; anything that made it into textbook is, by definition, not original.

Now, in my case, I want to claim that yes, my work is original: after all, the textbook doesn't provide my explanations and I do. But that's the point that nobody else seem to buy. From their perspective I just rewritten a textbook and it doesn't matter if I written it differently. But from my perspective no I didn't just rewrite a textbook: the ontology of my theory is different from the ontology I see in a textbook, and that's the point others don't buy.

However, there was one guy I met at a conference who decided to help me out and sent me a link with quotes of famous physicists asking the same questions I was asking. So sometimes I wonder what if my real problem is just writing style and people would have understood why what I do is important if only someone were to take time and edit my work (at the exchange of co authorship). But, with few notable exceptions, nobody is willing to do it.

Speaking of exceptions, two out of three publications I did succeed publishing were edited and coauthored with my former thesis advisor. So I can thank him for the fact that I have three publications rather than just one. Also there is a paper for which I am still awaiting referred decision that was edited by one of the math profs whose course I took back when I was an undergrad. So I will see what will happen with that one. And Aldo, like I mentioned earlier, one of my current projects involves connecting one of my papers to the research of one of my current potential thesis advisors. But we didn't get anywhere close to where he would be Editting my work since, as is, he himself doesn't fully understand it and I meet him once a week trying to explain to him what I want to do.

But like I said I have 29 papers posted on arxiv and what I just mentioned covers small portion of them. With the rest of them I am on my own.

The good thing is that not all of my papers involve "textbook" stuff. The papers on causal set don't. So from this I can expect to have easier time convincing others of importance of my causal set papers than the other ones. But still, causal set papers also get rejected for the most part. Which again brings me to saying that maybe the issue is simply my writing style.
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post #10 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-15-2018, 06:50 PM Thread Starter
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@truant The whole point of a C would be that I am tired of drama in my life and, unlike all the drama, C would be the one thing that wouldn't be. This clearly doesn't apply to failing. So no, I don't want to fail, I have too much drama as is.

Speaking of my past record, I got one D and three C's in high school, I got two D's and one C+ as an undergraduate; the rest of my grades were A's and B's.

Back in high school it was mostly B's but interestingly enough my high school GPA was 3.9 because I took a bunch of college classes and B for a college class counts as 4 for high school GPA, A counts as 5.

In college I continued to get more B's than As and, since they no longer bumped my GPA, it was 3.3

When I was in graduate school the first time around I had even mixture of As and B's so my GPA was around 3.6

But now that I am in graduate school the second time around (my first PhD was in physics and second in math) I got only one B, one B+ and two A- and then lots of A's so my GPA is 3.89 or something like that.

Well that's why the idea of B or C brings up nastalgy. But nope not the failing grades: the time I got my two D's it was a huge crisis, don't miss that one.
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post #11 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-15-2018, 07:20 PM
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@causalset I got As, Bs, Cs, Ds, and fails with equal impartiality. I don't discriminate. I dropped classes, got kicked out of classes, and eventually dropped out of high school. Though, come to think of it, dropping out was what got me kicked out of the house, so there was certainly some drama involved. My whole life has been an Addams Family soap opera.

But look at that kid's face. That's the face I want to be making the rest of my life. Slayin' it. Just slayin' it.

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post #12 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-15-2018, 07:45 PM
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In fact, back when I had a girlfriend -- at the age of 33 (and she broke up with me when I was 34) I told her "if someone were to give me an option of becoming 10 years younger, at the exchange of never seeing you again, I would totally do that without the slightest hesitation or regret". Needless to say, she got upset about it, but it turns out she misunderstood what I meant: she thought I was alluding to the idea that I would be dating younger women if I was younger. Nope, that had nothing to do with it. I was alluding to having my opportunities as a theoretical physicist ahead of me. Once she understood it, surprisingly enough, she was no longer angry, she said "yeah, I would also rather be younger than date you" and we continued dating for another year but then she broke up over other things (have no idea what, I couldn't get her to tell me).

Some things are best left unsaid. In every angle, it means you rather not see her ever again. Reminds me when my bro in law told my sister he loved his dog and her on the same level. Some thoughts just need to be deeply buried and never shown in the light of day.
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post #13 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-16-2018, 06:15 AM
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But look at that kid's face. That's the face I want to be making the rest of my life. Slayin' it. Just slayin' it.
I love that picture. Utter contentment. I get a cozy feeling looking at it. And your tag line underneath it, like a caption reads "No one is going to save you" and that makes the expression on the babe's face even more remarkable. As if the baby is saying "That's fine. Pacifier at hand, I got this. "

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post #14 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-16-2018, 06:38 AM
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post #15 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-16-2018, 07:26 AM
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@Erroll If the issues I has with the first chapter were explained in subsequent chapters, I would have just read further to see the answers. The whole point is that they weren't explained any place further. The subsequent chapters were simply developing more and more stuff based on the assumption that the reader accepts chapter 1 as a given -- and I didn't.


Now, in my case, I want to claim that yes, my work is original: after all, the textbook doesn't provide my explanations and I do. But that's the point that nobody else seem to buy. From their perspective I just rewritten a textbook and it doesn't matter if I written it differently. But from my perspective no I didn't just rewrite a textbook: the ontology of my theory is different from the ontology I see in a textbook, and that's the point others don't buy.

However, there was one guy I met at a conference who decided to help me out and sent me a link with quotes of famous physicists asking the same questions I was asking. So sometimes I wonder what if my real problem is just writing style and people would have understood why what I do is important if only someone were to take time and edit my work (at the exchange of co authorship). But, with few notable exceptions, nobody is willing to do it.

Speaking of exceptions, two out of three publications I did succeed publishing were edited and coauthored with my former thesis advisor. So I can thank him for the fact that I have three publications rather than just one. Also there is a paper for which I am still awaiting referred decision that was edited by one of the math profs whose course I took back when I was an undergrad. So I will see what will happen with that one. And Aldo, like I mentioned earlier, one of my current projects involves connecting one of my papers to the research of one of my current potential thesis advisors. But we didn't get anywhere close to where he would be Editting my work since, as is, he himself doesn't fully understand it and I meet him once a week trying to explain to him what I want to do.

But like I said I have 29 papers posted on arxiv and what I just mentioned covers small portion of them. With the rest of them I am on my own.

The good thing is that not all of my papers involve "textbook" stuff. The papers on causal set don't. So from this I can expect to have easier time convincing others of importance of my causal set papers than the other ones. But still, causal set papers also get rejected for the most part. Which again brings me to saying that maybe the issue is simply my writing style.
It is probably a bit more than writing style because your current adviser can't seem to understand your work, even when you see it as connected with the research that he is doing, and you've been trying to explain that to him weekly. So maybe it is a general communications thing. And people on the autism spectrum are known to have communications difficulties. And scientific papers are all about communicating ideas to peers, because the only objectivity possible is that produced by a general agreement in peers' subjective opinions.

Do you think that the scope of your papers might be too broad? New ideas are hard to get across because you have to explain your own subjective thinking in an idiom which is common to everyone in your field. I mean how else can they come to agree with you? When you write, do you think of your reader, and what will help them visualize your idea? I think that we spectrumites tend to get lost in our own minds, where everything is crystal clear, and we sort of forget that generally, others don't follow the same line of thinking that we do. To write something understandable to others, we have to find points of commonality between us, the writers, and our readers. Understandings common to the writer and the reader is where the mutual understanding of new ideas begins.

I think that you have an excellent command of English. You just have to establish a common understanding of what you are trying to achieve, before you get down in the weeds of your explanation. I know someone else who has a problem being understood in his papers. He begins by giving his own definition to terms that he uses subsequently in his paper. So the only way you can understand anything is to memorize his definitions which do not correspond to the generally accepted meanings of those words in common parlance. It makes for terribly confusing reading, and nobody on the discussion board has ever understood the totality what he is trying to say.

Anything worth doing is worth overdoing.
(Mick Jagger)
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post #16 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-17-2018, 05:12 PM Thread Starter
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It is probably a bit more than writing style because your current adviser can't seem to understand your work, even when you see it as connected with the research that he is doing, and you've been trying to explain that to him weekly. So maybe it is a general communications thing.
Well, by "writing style" I meant "communication thing" as you put it. I mean, communication boils down to writing style (in case of papers) or speaking style (in case of meeting with professor). Perhaps we use the terms differently, but thats basically what I mean.

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Originally Posted by Erroll View Post
Do you think that the scope of your papers might be too broad?
Yeah, I think so. Back when I did my first ph.d. my thesis advisor kept trying to get me to eraze half of it and just focus on some smaller topic; when I kept insisting to keep it, he finally said "then put it into appendix", so my first thesis has a very long appendix that is like third of its size. Also, as far as my arXiv papers are concerned, one of them is like 150 pages long, and quite a few of the other ones are between 40 and 50 pages -- even though I was told that in order for a paper to have a reasonable chance to be published it has to be below 20 pages. I guess none of the referees mentioned the length as the reason for rejection, thats why I kept sending the long papers.

In any case, the reason I do that is because, in my mind, when I say something about one topic it leads to some questions about the other connected topic, and then saying something about that, would lead to questions about yet another topic. What I was told was "just answer those questions in a different paper". But in my mind, there are few problems with this:

a) The current paper would look incomplete without answering those questions

b) In order to answer those questions in the new paper, I have to review what was said in the previous paper, and what if writing that review would be as long as that paper itself, and then the new paper would be long

c) What if, after I wrote the first paper and before I wrote the next one, someone else would ask and answer those questions and write that second paper instead of me?

I guess, in practice, all three points end up being irrelevant since, due to too much stuff, nobody can follow what I write anyway. But thats something that is easy to see on a hindsight after I already submitted the paper, but its a lot harder to keep those thoughts out of my mind when I am actually writing and force myself to limit the scope. Sometimes I do succeed in telling myself "alright, I am going to just focus on this point and thats it" but then I would keep finding it unsatisfactory since those questions would keep lingering in my mind no matter what I tell myself, which eventually makes me change my mind and put lots of stuff anyway.

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Originally Posted by Erroll View Post
New ideas are hard to get across because you have to explain your own subjective thinking in an idiom which is common to everyone in your field.
Yeah thats very true. And that goes both ways: I can't understand everyone else's work because I am not using their idioms and they can't understand my work because they are not using mine.

Case in point: a week ago my advisor told me that one of the equations I kept trying to write is called "heat kernel" and was actually written by other people -- perhaps not in my specific setting, but in other settings for sure so I should at least check thareir work before writing my own stuff. Well I didn't know about it, so I surely did *not* use the term "heat kernel" since I never heard of it until he told me.

And there were several other examples when I have "rediscovered the wheel". For example, last year I been contemplating about certain interpretation of quantum mechanics that I thought I invented. But then there was math seminar on baesian statistics, and I was thinking "wait a second, I heard of baesian quantum mechanics few years ago, let me google it". I did, and I realize it was the EXACT idea I thought I was "inventing". The interesting thing is that, when someone told me about it few years ago, I thought it was nonesense, so I forget what it even was other than the fact that it was a bunch of nonesense. Yet I came up with that exact thing few years later.

Another example of something similar is that there was a professor in Scottland who was willing to consider hiring me as a postdoc. Now, his research was in what is called "scale relativity". Yes I tried to understand it, but I couldn't, to me it seemed like nonesense. So when I visitted him for few days in France trying to talk about our work (France because thats where his collaborator was), I ended up spending most of the time just arguing with him and telling him he is wrong. Yes he still filed grant application for me, but it was rejected -- probably because we couldn't agree on a project so we ended up splitting the application between my ideas and his. Yet, few years after that, I had some of my own ideas that were quite closely related to scale relativity and I ended up thinkintog "well maybe his theory isn't as bad as I thought it was". But you see, some precursors to those ideas happen to be something I was contemplating back at the time when I visitted that professor. In fact I was emailing those ideas to him, and he was telling me "hey, you just discovered scale relativity" and I was like "no I haven't: my ideas are good, scale relativity isn't". Now I believe I probably should have listened to him.

In any case, I think there is a communication gap that goes both ways. I can't seem to understand other people's ideas and other people can't seem to understand my ideas. So maybe its because we are using different set of idioms as you put it, so we just aren't speaking the same language.

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Originally Posted by Erroll View Post
I mean how else can they come to agree with you? When you write, do you think of your reader, and what will help them visualize your idea?
I "think" I do, but in actuality I probably don't, because the "imaginary reader" that I am thinking of is not the real reader. For example: the referree report I got just a couple of weeks ago regarding one of my causal set papers criticised me for citing my own unpublished work and saying that the only way for someone to understand my current causal set paper is for them to have read all the previous ones. Now, its true that nothing would prevent them from reading those papers: after all, even though arXiv doesn't count as publication, it is accessible for anyone to read. But, on practice, most people aren't reading my papers, as evident from the fact that over past several years only a couple of people cited me. On the other hand, there have been a lot of other causal set work that was done between then and now, which others do cite. So, if I were "thinking of a reader" I would be comparing my current publication with other people's work; but instead of doing that I was comparing it with my own prior work (yes I did mention other people's work but that mention was too brief for referree to even notice). Now, from the logic point of view, it makes sense to compare my current paper with my own previus work since the direction of my current paper is similar to direction of my own prior work, not other people's. But, from practical point of view, it would make a lot more sense to compare it to other people's work since, in practice, people read other's work and not mine. Sure, its a bad thing they don't read my work and it needs to change. But, until it changes, I can't just lie to myself and pretend they read my work whey they don't.

Since my email is too long I split it into two portions, see continuation in the next reply
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post #17 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-17-2018, 05:13 PM Thread Starter
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Okay here is a continuation of previous message

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Originally Posted by Erroll View Post
I think that we spectrumites tend to get lost in our own minds, where everything is crystal clear, and we sort of forget that generally, others don't follow the same line of thinking that we do.
I think it goes both ways. What is clear to me isn't clear to others, and what is clear to others isn't clear to me.

I remember a couple of professors that told me that it is actually quite common for a well established professor not to understand 80% of the work that is being done, since a professor specializes in only their own field. So I was advised to find a specific narrow area of physics that suits me the most and focus on that audience.

Well I guess it looks like it might be the case. For example I noticed that everyone who does causal set theory, also agree on a specific interpretation of quantum mechanics -- even though deep structure of spacetime and interpretation of quantum mechanics are two separate things so I don't see why would the opinion on one dictate the opinion on the other "unless" they just blindly follow the croud.

A more familiar example of it would be politics: what is the connection about the views on abortion and the views on global warming? Personally, I agree with republicans on abortion issue and I agree with democrats on global warming. But that combination doesn't seem to be very common.

As far as my causal set work, I did in fact introduce interpretation of quatnum mechanics into it -- but it was different from the interpretation that everyone else in causal set community sticks to. A lot of my own work had to do with "mixing" the ideas of different scientific communities and then adding a huge dose of my own ideas. I guess its not very common but thats what I prefer to do because I like being an independent thinker instead of just acting like a copy machine of some sort.

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Originally Posted by Erroll View Post
To write something understandable to others, we have to find points of commonality between us, the writers, and our readers. Understandings common to the writer and the reader is where the mutual understanding of new ideas begins.
I agree. Probably the fact that my thinking about physics is quite different from most people is the reason there aren't a lot of commonalities. The same goes with real life. Thats why I can't get my papers published *and* can't get a girlfriend.

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Originally Posted by Erroll View Post
I think that you have an excellent command of English. You just have to establish a common understanding of what you are trying to achieve, before you get down in the weeds of your explanation.
Yeah that seems to be the exact thing that happens every time I go see my professor. I spend considerable amount of time elaborating my 20 page file I send him, to the point that I might not even sleep before I have to see him, but then he ends up focusing on just the very first page asking me some really basic things I was taking for granted, and then we run out of time and don't even get to what I spent so much time writing.

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Originally Posted by Erroll View Post
I know someone else who has a problem being understood in his papers. He begins by giving his own definition to terms that he uses subsequently in his paper. So the only way you can understand anything is to memorize his definitions which do not correspond to the generally accepted meanings of those words in common parlance.
Yeah I do that too. Like the example with "heat kernel" is a good one. I didn't know the term "heat kernel" existed, so I had to derive it myself and introduce my own term for it.

So is that person a student or postdoc or professor? Is he also on the spectrum?

Since you seen his papers, does it mean you are also a physicist?
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post #18 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-17-2018, 06:19 PM Thread Starter
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Some things are best left unsaid. In every angle, it means you rather not see her ever again. Reminds me when my bro in law told my sister he loved his dog and her on the same level. Some thoughts just need to be deeply buried and never shown in the light of day.
Maybe he was a huge dog person and, to him, comparing her to a dog was a form of a compliment. As a cat person, I always compare my girlfriends to cats as a way of telling them how much I love them.

Personally, I think comparing cats to dogs is a huge insult to cats. Cats shouldn't be compared to dogs, they should be compared to humans -- in fact, in many ways, cats are much more loving than humans. I remember telling one of my ex-s, in order to compliment her on how much she loves me, "you have the type of feelings that no human can have, your feelings are the ones that only cat can have" -- meaning she is a lot more loving than most humans.

Then, with the other ex, we had what we called "softy game" where I was trying to convince her she is softer than me, and she was trying to convince me I was softer than her. In any case, one of the days we played that game it ended like this:

ME: You are as soft as a cat
HER: And you are softer than a cat
ME: Oh no, no human can ever be softer than a cat

And here is another one:

HER: In what way do you love me
ME: I want to give you a hug
HER: Hugging has to do with cats, do you love me in any way thats not related to cats?

By the way, she is devoted Christian and doesn't beleive in sex before marraige just like I don't, so she wasn't hinting at sex or kissing (she doesn't want to kiss before marriage either).

But in any case, it was really amusing how she KNEW that "hugging has to do with cats". Most people wouldn't ever think of that connection. So she "got it" when it comes to my ideas of cats.

Here is yet another one:

HER: If I am a cat then you are a tiger
ME: So you just admitted that you are a bigger softy
HER: No, a tiger is a bigger softy than a cat
ME: No, a cat is a bigger softy than a tiger
HER: But isn't tiger bigger?
ME: Even though tiger is bigger, a cat has a lot more softness per unit volume and, therefore, a cat contains more softness than tiger does which makes cat a bigger softy
HER: Tiger is just a big ball full of softness
ME: No, a tiger wants to eat a human but a cat would never eat a human
HER: The only reason a cat doesn't try to eat a human is that it knows that it can't
ME: No, a cat can't eat a human because a cat is too loving and too caring to want to do it
HER: If you were to put in a cage with a cat and you were to suddenly become smaller or cat were to suddely become bigger, you would be running and screaming "help me, help me, the cat is getting unsoft"
ME: No, it won't happen, a cat is too caring
HER: So do you think little kittens are bigger softies than adult cats?
ME: Yes for sure. And you are a kitten
HER: I think you are a bigger softy, and who would have better opinion than a little kitten such as myself?
ME: Well, from your last phrase you just admitted you are a bigger softy
HER: If I am a bigger softy, you are an ultimate softy
ME: No, you are an ultimate softy

In any case, a while later SHE sent me a video about how a little kid was saved by a cat from a dog. And then our conversation went like this:

ME: See how caring the cat is
HER: No, its God who made cat do that
ME: No, its that cat that was really caring. I wish I could snuggle with her, I bet she is really soft.

And yeah, by the way, I was always making sure to refer to cats as SHE. Like one of my other ex-s had a bunch of cats and only one of them was a female, the rest was males. I was referring to all of them as she -- and she kept correcting me to call them "he" -- and I was like "no no, there is no such thing as a male cat, any cat is a female by default: after all snuggling with a cat feels just as good as snuggling with a female".

Speaking of that other ex, she kept two of the cats in her own room and the rest of the cats were outside her room -- that was because one of the cats inside her room didn't get along with the other cat that was outside her room. In any case, one of those days she was cooking something outside her room, and I was in her room where I was "trying to study" but couldn't, because I kept getting disracted by the cats. So I was snuggling with both of the cats and then, when she walked into the room, I said "now there are three cats in this room" and started snuggling with her as well. She said "no, there are four cats"; I looked at her really confused, and then she said "well, aren't you a cat as well?" and I kind of hesitated and nodded. But I didn't like that one, I liked thinking of HER as a cat and of myself as a human.

When I was little in Russia we had a cat, and I wrote to cat a poem that says

Мя-у- мя-у -му -ме-У
Спи- мя-у-ка-лка- ме-У
Ла-пу- до-ве-ря-ЕТ
Мя-гко- мя-гко- пла-ЧЕТ

The english transliteration is

Mja-u mja-u moo -me-OO
Spi- mja-u-kal-ka -mjao-OO
La-poo- do-ve-rija-ЕТ
Mia-gko- mia-gko- pla- CHEET

Which in translation would be

Mja-u mja-u moo -me-OO
Go to sleep miaoo-sayer mjao-OO
She trusts me with her paw
And she cries really softly

In any case, I liked to take cats paw and move it up and down on each syllable -- thats why I have shown you how that poem reads syllable by syllabe. Also, back when I was little, I liked to take my mom's hand and move it up and down syllable by syllable the same way I did it to the cat -- and I was pretending that my mom and that cat was one and the same. In any case, when I became adult, and had the girlfriends, I was reading this poem to them, and moving their hand up and down, in order to show them how much I love them.
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post #19 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-17-2018, 07:03 PM Thread Starter
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@causalset I got As, Bs, Cs, Ds, and fails with equal impartiality. I don't discriminate. I dropped classes, got kicked out of classes, and eventually dropped out of high school. Though, come to think of it, dropping out was what got me kicked out of the house, so there was certainly some drama involved. My whole life has been an Addams Family soap opera.

But look at that kid's face. That's the face I want to be making the rest of my life. Slayin' it. Just slayin' it.
Despite the fact that most of my grades were As and Bs I was nearly kicked out back when I did my first Ph.D. Basically, I was stuck on the issues of interpretation of physics and didn't make progress towards my thesis research. Well, I am not getting graded for thesis research, so my grades were good. But, because I made no progress, they told me that they will kick me out unless I find an advisor who is willing to work with me -- well I had advisors before but as I made no progress they refused working with me, and so now I was asked to find a new advisor and stick to that person, or be expelled. Also they gave me a deadline -- specific for me -- as to when I have to find an advisor. In any case, due to my bad reputation, nobody wanted to be my advisor. Finally, one retired professor agreed to take me on literally a day before that deadline. He wasn't working in my field but he took me on just to save me from being expelled (thats why he didn't want to do it before that deadline arrived hoping I would find a better fit for me). Then eventually I found a professor at a different university who "was" in my field, but I didn't want to transfer because the university I was originally at ranked a lot higher. So we made an arrangement that my thesis committee would have two co-chairs: one is professor from my university who isn't in my field, and the other is the professor who is in my field but in another university. So with that arrangement I worked for another three years and successfully defended my thesis. But I would have been expelled if it wasn't for him.

How about yourself, what made you drop out?
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post #20 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-18-2018, 06:20 PM
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How about yourself, what made you drop out?
Honestly, I was failing all my courses so badly I didn't see the point of staying in school. I find it almost impossible to remember names, "facts", and abstract rules (like math). I can understand the material, but I can't do any of the work from memory, so no matter how much I study, I end up failing all my exams.

I had a lot of enemies in high school, and I didn't enjoy being there, but that's not the reason I dropped out. Nothing would have made me happier than getting higher grades than the whole lot of them. But as it is they probably all went on to university and got good jobs and I'm still just some weird broke loser on the Internet.

Edit: I should point out that I did go back and get my diploma after taking a year off, but I went to a different high school in another city. It was a technical school with much easier coursework.

In science, ideology tends to corrupt; absolute ideology [corrupts] absolutely" - Robert Nisbet
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