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Statement of Interest (Writer's Block)

  1. Jan 20, 2008 #1

    G01

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    AAAAAGGGGGHHH!!!

    The ONLY thing I wanted to get done this weekend, the ONLY thing, was to right a statement of interest for my REU applications.

    As of now, I have an open Word document with the words "Statement of Interest" on the top of the page! This has been the most unproductive weekend. If only I could figure out how to start the essay. That is always the hardest part. Once you have a catchy beginning, the rest just seems to follow. It is too bad that my mind is seriously blank right now!

    Anyone know of any good ways to break out of a writer's block on things like this?
    (And don't say "Stop wasting time on PF." I'm looking for doable ways to get a good start on this paper.:biggrin:)
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 20, 2008 #2
    Try some free writing. Don't worry about writing a catchy beginning to start your paper. Write what actually interests you first. Just write anything that comes to mind even if it isn't related to your paper. Not only might you get ideas for your paper, but you could also figure out what's stopping you from writing it. Then after you have something down look at it again and see what has promise and what needs to be dropped completely.

    Just write anything. See where it takes you.
     
  4. Jan 20, 2008 #3

    G01

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    Thanks Huckleberry, I'll try that.

    Maybe I am just tired of working on these applications in general, but I got to get them done eventually. If I haven't been showing my face much around here lately, it's because of these apps. I just want to get them done and mailed out! So close, yet so far away!
     
  5. Jan 20, 2008 #4
    Most people don't write well while dealing with stress or anxiety. I don't know what kind of schedule or deadlines you have, but if you have the time a little relaxation might help. Go for a walk. Throw some rocks in the lake. Catch a movie. Call up a friend you haven't talked to in a while. Take a nap. I find it almost impossible to write if stress is taking up all my bandwidth.
     
  6. Jan 20, 2008 #5
    good suggestion--the only thing that I may add is writing things on separate sheets of paper if they're different trains of thoughts.
     
  7. Jan 20, 2008 #6

    Astronuc

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    What is the area of research in the REU?

    With a research topic - maybe we could discover a general statment to get started.


    I've gotten in the habit of collecting interesting things and saving them in files, just in case they might be relevant in the future. Some files contain a broad category while others are very specific. I have a some files on texts in mathematics, engineering, physics, astrophysics and plasma physics (I just ordered several books on plasma physics).

    I have folders of broad topics like books (which I intend to read), international development, aviation and aerospace, international development, and large library of articles of articles from ArXiv and various scientific and technical journals, . . . .

    It helps to jot down stuff for later use.


    BTW - Time is never wasted on PF. :biggrin:
     
  8. Jan 20, 2008 #7

    G01

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    The REU's I'm applying for all have research in condensed matter physics and nanophysics. Experimental projects are also more interesting to me that theoretical projects.
     
  9. Jan 20, 2008 #8
    what do you read about in any of those areas in your spare time--leisure time?
     
  10. Jan 20, 2008 #9

    G01

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    Well. I'm really interested in quantum dots. My previous REU project was involved with quantum dots, and their applications to quantum computing, among other things.
     
  11. Jan 20, 2008 #10
    sounds like a good place to start--What papers were you reading?
     
  12. Jan 20, 2008 #11

    Astronuc

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    Start with something general in condensed matter physics and nanophysics, or physics of nanostructures, where atomic properties or atomic/molecular behavior dominate, as opposed to bulk properties. The key to developments/advances in useful nanostructures requires the results of detailed and well-controlled experiments.

    What do we know about quantum dots and quantum computing?

    What do we need to know?

    I curious about the control of errors in quantum computing. I would think that one spurious muon could devastate a quantum dot.

    I know that microprocessors with higher transistor densities than a P3 get blasted when they operate in space. Too much radiation.
     
  13. Jan 20, 2008 #12

    G01

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    There are a couple I can think of off the top of my head. Here are a couple I have read and have on hand:

    Kikkawa , J. M. and Awschalom , D. D., Physical Review Letters 80, 4313 (1998). -Decoherence Times of electron spins in quantum dots.

    Kane, B. E., McAlpine, N. S., Dzurak, A. S., et al., Phys. Rev. B 61, 2961 (2000).
    -Reading the state of a semiconductor-based qubit using a single-electron transistor.


    These are two examples at least. I have somewhat of an idea of what to talk about once I get into the essay. The big problem here is getting started. I want to have a smooth general introduction, and then get more into what my specific interests are. Any ideas?
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2008
  14. Jan 20, 2008 #13

    Astronuc

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    Start with something general about the drive to miniturize.

    Back in the early days of the space program, there were many programs to reduce the size of equipment, including computers in order to save mass.

    In computing, the objectives have been to reduce the distance between transistors to speed up (reduce) computation times and reduce power losses (reduce power consumption).
     
  15. Jan 20, 2008 #14
    A lot of papers lead in with the 'history'-----What got you interested in the first place?
     
  16. Jan 20, 2008 #15

    Astronuc

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  17. Jan 20, 2008 #16

    Moonbear

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    Along the same lines, writing an outline can be a good start too. Same concept, instead of worrying about how to write a catchy opening sentence, you get down the meat and potatoes of what you want to say, and can then go back afterward and turn it into proper sentences and paragraphs and figure out a catchy intro.
     
  18. Jan 20, 2008 #17

    G01

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    Alright guys thanks for the help and advice! I did make an outline Moonbear and it helped immensely. I sometimes have a tendency to obsess over small details, like opening paragraphs. I made an outline, decided what I was going to talk about, and then went to the gym, because I was to stressed to think clearly. I felt a lot better afterwards and was able to write the statement with much less trouble!

    Well, one thing down. Now time to relax until I start class again....which is....IN A WEEK!!!! What have I been doing this entire break?:confused:
     
  19. Jan 20, 2008 #18
    Now that this problem is already solved, I'll chime in, because I'm helpful that way.:biggrin:

    I'm abysmal at writing outlines. I begin with a sentence, mean to write out all of my following ideas in point form, and end up writing whole paragraphs. For what it's worth, for anyone else reading this when/if they get stuck, rewebster's suggestion to write the paper with fleshed out ideas and then go back and write your thesis statement to fit with your paper is an excellent approach, I've found. Supposedly, it's the desired approach to have your ideas and arguments in order and set out in your thesis statement before writing your essay. That's supposed to, notionally, give you a guideline to follow. For me, I find I work best writing the essay in a point-following-point-building-on-point organisation and then writing a thesis, or opening statement, to match up with what I've put together.

    Supposedly, that's a backwards construction, but it's worked well for me. Just another idea out there for an approach to the task.
     
  20. Jan 21, 2008 #19

    Pyrrhus

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    Personally, i've found writing an outline before the actual paper is extremely helpful for me. You know, before i'll just drink a lot of water (don't ask) and wait until the idea finally comes to my head, this took quite some time. I started using outlines, because of a project i did with 2 other fellow mates. One of them used to write a lot of outlines before writing. I picked up the habit from him. Good habit.

    Good luck on your application.
     
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