CURF Ends, Research Continues

Hi all! This is my third (and final) blog post on my CURF research. You can find the second and first here. The featured image on this post is me presenting my research at the physics department spring poster session. Presenting research is really cool, particularly getting to talk to people who are knowledgable about what you are working on is super fun.

Currently, most of my research is running simulations of stars and then looking at plots like the one below. We ask questions like:

Are these curves doing what we expect?

How do these plots compare to other previous plots?

What processes are occurring that produce curves like these?

These aren’t easy questions to answer. But, if we can figure out some of the answers to these questions we can decide if code is working as it should, and we can get some semblance of a meaningful analysis out of these plots. I would separate these questions into two categories:

  1. Is the physics right? (i. e. is the code working, modeling dark matter properly, etc)
  2. Interpretation (What exactly is happening? What are the explanations for what we see?)

I won’t go into the specifics of this exact plot, but hopefully this gives you some idea of what I’m spending my time on.

Doing research is hard. At the beginning, everything is overwhelming and often you have no idea what you’re doing. On the bright side, this is true for everyone, as far as I know. The biggest hurdle of research is getting started because at this point you have no idea what you’re doing or how you solve any problems. At some point, you get the hang of things and figure out how to fix issues and make progress, along with help from your research advisor. Eventually, you look back at where you started and realize how much you’ve learned. It’s important to keep in mind there is no ‘trick’ to all of this, you just have to keep working.

It’s also important to be realistic about what you can get done within a semester. A semester is not a long time, and there will be weeks where you get nothing done. As this semester ends and the summer begins, my research on this project continues. The summer is great because you get infinitely more time to work on research compared to during the semester, and I’m excited to see what the future holds!

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