Thursday, August 26, 2010

August 26th, 2010

This day was, for the most part, a non-physics day. I got up at 7:00am and went through my daily routine of responding to emails. I also managed to get a bit of work done, responding to the reviewers' comments on our two-electron optimization paper - before having breakfast.

At 9:15am I attended a meeting with a prospective candidate who was interviewing for the position of dean in the college of sciences. Much of the discussions centered on the doom and gloom of the next round of budget cuts that could be as high as 10%. This is on top of a 30% cut from last year, which was on top of smaller cuts in the previous years.

It's all a mater of simple math. The cost of educating a student is X. Let's say that the state pays 50% and the tuition paid by the student (or scholarships) pays the remaining 50%. Because of the bad economy, the state can now afford to pay only 35%. If we were to cut 15% of the faculty we would be able to teach fewer courses so the students would have less choice and more students would be packed into larger classes. If we bring in fewer students, revenue drops. If faculty teach more courses, research productivity and funding drops. The only real solution is to raise tuition to cover the difference; but, in this bad economy, increased tuition would shift the burden to the families of students, many of whom are also in a financial bind. These are tough times and there are no clear solutions.

After the meeting, I spent a couple hours working on our paper and going over my lecture notes. Subsequently, I had a quick lunch and attended a practice talk by a postdoc. After that, I spent a couple of hours in my office answering questions about a homework assignment that is due tomorrow in the graduate classical mechanics class that I am teaching.

In addition, Shoresh reported on progress he is making in testing the sum rules in quantum wires and Shiva showed me some interesting data using his new temperature controlled chamber. We also talked about some new ideas for designing a better experiment for simultaneously measuring the linear absorption spectrum and the ASE signal.

When I got home, I worked some more on my class notes and wrote up solutions to one of the homework problems. Before we ate dinner, our son Skyped us to show off his cool new digs - an ultramodern house with a movie theater. He will be house-sitting for one of his professors for the academic year.

After dinner, I played floor hockey. I felt unusually fatigued and could do nothing right. I got home at 9:15pm, took a shower, and worked on my notes a bit. I really did not feel like working, so I decided to make an entry on my blog.

This post is incredibly boring; but, it captures my mood. To be happy, I need to spend more time thinking about physics. If I do not exceed a minimum threshold, I feel that my day has been wasted. I plan to do lots of work this weekend, and look forward to the enjoyment associated with the rush of firing neurons.

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