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What did you do today? (a corollary to the thread What do you physicists do? )

  1. Sep 27, 2007 #1
    what did you do today? (a corollary to the thread "What do you physicists do?")

    I thought it might be interesting to take a sociological approach to the question raised by Pivoxa in this thread -

    So what do physicists actually do on a daily basis? Let's ask the physicists out there to report in on their activities for Thursday, September 27th, 2007. Oh yeah, tell us how many cups of coffee you had....

    Let's see....

    What I Did Today, by Oedipa Maas

    8:00: Woke up and fell asleep again because I stayed up too late after a colloquium last night.
    8:40: Got out of bed and checked personal e-mail while eating a bowl of yoghurt and muesli.
    9:00: Tried to determine why my bicycle light didn't work last night.
    9:15: Bicycled to work
    9:35: Got to work and said "hi" to my labmate.

    - reset the transducer coil in the probe that I'm working with and discussed with my labmate whether one of my cables was shorting out and causing my data collection script to die.
    - played around with my data collection script.
    -determined that error code -200279 was associated with the DAQ writing data into a location in a buffer which already had a piece of data that the CPU just hadn't yet got around to reading and storing.
    - changed my code to increase the size of the buffer as the data collection rate increased.

    12:30: went to the cafeteria with the folks in my research group
    13:00: went back to the lab, talked for a bit with my labmate about the class he's TAing.

    - did a couple test runs with really high data collection rates to see if the buffer was still filling up faster than the CPU was reading it. While the data collection was running I researched a book that I wanted to buy. I also reread a paragraph of a paper I've been reading and took a derivative of a probability in hopes that I might get some clues about the model described in the paper.
    14:??: now satisfied that my script was running.
    - took my apparatus partially apart and started to rebuild a higher mount for the probe.
    - found out that part of the existing mount needed to stay bolted to the table
    - listened to a couple CDs while working
    16:00: visited the other people in my group in the neighbouring lab and looked up buying a kayak.
    17:40: finished rebuilding the probe mount. plugged everything in and started another test run. chatted with labmate.
    18:10: biked to grocery store and looked for red thai curry paste
    18:50: made some delicious dinner and played guitar while the food simmered
    19:??: hung out with some neighbours who were having a party
    20:??: wasting bandwidth
    ?? do the dishes, have a bath and read a book for a bit....

    Cups of coffee: ZERO
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2007
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 27, 2007 #2


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    I'm a programmer, not a physicist. I don't get to play.
  4. Sep 27, 2007 #3

    D H

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    I'm a physicist by (ancient) education, an aeronautical engineer by practice. Can I play?
  5. Sep 27, 2007 #4


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    I'm a biologist, not a physicist, so I'll just answer what I did with my morning. I got to spend the morning searching Google images for photos that were sufficiently obscure references to places the presenters for a journal club this afternoon have either grown up or studied. I was moderating the journal club today, and we play "guess the presenter" before each brief talk. :biggrin: I've never been asked to moderate before, but it's really fun. Along my google quest, I learned that limburger cheese is a mosquito attractant, and so are smelly socks, because smelly feet and limburger cheese actually do have the same bacteria in common (I just thought it was unfortunate coincidence that limburger cheese smelled like feet). The cheese originally was made by monks who stepped on it to press it, and that's how it picked up that characteristic foot bacteria smell. :yuck: I couldn't make this up if I tried.
  6. Sep 27, 2007 #5

    Ivan Seeking

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    Could it be that we are still eating bacteria that originally came from the feet of monks?

    Last edited: Sep 27, 2007
  7. Sep 28, 2007 #6


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    Well, since I don't eat limburger cheese, I hope I don't, but thanks for the disturbing thought. :yuck:

    That I was aware of. I attended a talk a few years back by someone studying neural processing of olfaction, and that was one of the examples she used to explain that it's not as simple as X molecule interacts with its receptor and we perceive it as X, but that there's a lot of context involved. She's French, and commented how she thoroughly enjoys "stinky" cheese, but all her American students would turn up their noses in disgust in the lab claiming it smelled like feet or vomit. On the other hand, the same chemicals were in their bag of buttered popcorn, and they were thoroughly enjoying it, while she was the one who would catch a whiff of it and think it smelled like vomit and couldn't stand to be around it.

    Hmm...that just gave me an idea...I'll have to see if it's been done. Is it a visual context, some other cognitive aspect of context, or is it the context of the other scents perceived along with it? An easy test would be to take a purified compound, such as butyric acid on a cotton swab, and before asking the subject to sniff it, either show them a picture of butter, cheese, vomit, etc., alternate that with subjects TOLD what the scent will be (butter, cheese, vomit, etc.) but who don't see a picture, vs subjects who are given no context whatsoever, and a final group that gets the actual substance to smell (butter, cheese...not sure where you'd get vomit from...maybe from those who are suggestible enough and get shown pictures of vomit before being given butyric acid to sniff? :yuck:). You could then have them rate the pleasantness or aversiveness of the smell. I wonder if being given a visual or verbal context would change the perception compared with the full olfactory context, or how random the interpretation would be when there is no context? Would it always seem unpleasant without context, or would some think it's a pleasant smell while others thought it unpleasant? I would assume such a study has already been done by those in the field of olfaction, but every so often, something that seems like such an obvious study to do has been entirely overlooked.
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