arnabocean

— by Arnab Gupta

Dissertation Proposal

July 16, 2013

I defended my dissertation proposal today.

What this means is that I now have an approved (by my dissertation advisory committee) framework for the research that will grant me my Ph.D.

There were no bad surprises that caught me or my adviser off guard. My advisory committee members are really great people, and we were able to discuss what I’m proposing to do very well. They suggested a couple of things, but they were ideas that me and my advisor had been discussing ourselves only recently, so even that wasn’t out of the blue for us. Although—to an extent we were, or at least I was, thinking of doing those things for different reasons than what the committee suggested. That’s the thing with these defenses—you get a different perspective on what you look at everyday.

Well, one more step completed. This was on the calendar for quite a long time, and it’s nice to get this done. :)

On the other hand, this is the beginnning of the next, arduous path—now that I’ve proposed something, I’ve to actually go ahead and do those things! Lots of experiments to do; many lines of MATLAB code to write and debug—fun times are ahead!

But for now—a bit of a break. Well earned, if I do say so myself. :)

My scientific writing workflow

June 30, 2013

I am not fond of MS-Word. Correction: I cannot really tolerate MS-Word, and the only times I really use it are for work, where documents must be shared, modified, commented upon, and tracked for changes between multiple authors, contributors and edit cycles. For those particular circumstances there really isn’t another viable alternative to MS-Word, is there.

But of course, the criteria for my own scientific writing are very different. The only sharing and discussion is with my dissertation adviser, and I can easily handle one other contributor without needing MS-Word. So, of course, I’ve moved as far away from that bloated, cranky piece of software as I can—which is to say, completely away.

Instead, here’s what I use.

On using (or abusing) bio-technology

June 24, 2013

I wrote a small piece on fair use of our biotechnology on my Tumblr, but since I’m planning to write longer pieces on this blog, I wanted to cross-post it here as well.

Joe Hanson, of It’s Okay To Be Smart, wrote:

Can Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering Save an American Icon?

What I find so interesting is that the techniques being used to save this tree, and one day reintroduce it to the wild, are not that different from those that are used to create genetically modified crops. How does saving a dying species by inserting a gene differ from creating an herbicide-resistant soybean, or rice that produces extra vitamins? I have my opinions, but I want to know: What do you think?

My thoughts are below.

The problem facing scientist writers

June 22, 2013

I was lamenting on the scarcity of engineering blogs, even though there are a plethora of excellent science and other technical blogs on the internet.

That got me thinking about why relatively so few scientists in general, and engineers in particular, write and publish on the web. Here’s the problem, I think–

Where are the engineers’ blogs?

June 22, 2013

I wish there were more people writing about engineering mechanics research. It’s certainly a fascinating area, and while perhaps they wouldn’t be as popular as the tech-media blogs, or the awesome science blogs that everyone can identify with, they’d still be pretty good, right?

I really like and follow Dr. Drang, who seems to occupy the perfect niche—mechanical engineering and computer programming. And through Dr. Drang I’ve recently discovered the blog of J. Ben Deaton, but haven’t had the chancce to explore in detail yet. (BTW, Deaton’s site is also powered by Octopress, with the default Octopress theme that I mentioned.) Then there’s Engineering is Awesome, which is also excellent.

But other than that, I don’t know of any engineering or mechanics blogs. There may be some great ones that don’t show up in Google searches—if you know of one, would you let me know? :)

There are quite a few science blogs though (example, example), and they are excellent and fascinating. But where are the engineers? Are engineers really that boring compared to other scientists? :)

Website Rebuild — using Octopress

June 20, 2013

I’d originally designed and built this website in the summer of 2011, and I had made it a point that I myself did all the hard yards of learning the technology and developing (and finding how others had implemented a feature) the HTML and CSS code. I stayed completely away from Javascript, mostly because I basically had no idea about Javascript. I wasn’t sure how resource-hogging Javascript was, and that was a factor, yes—but it was mostly because I didn’t want to use something I didn’t know, and I knew next to nothing about Javascript.

So that was then.

For a while now, though, I’ve been pondering a rewrite and rebuilding of the website, for a number of reasons.