National laboratories are way different than academia. That’s been the overwhelming thought ringing in my head since I got out here. It’s more than just the lack of classes, the lack of formal teaching responsibilities, and the significant increase in security (I’m not really sure if I’m even allowed to make a joke about this…). There’s a really big difference in terms of the culture. People talk about science differently.
Sometimes I almost feel like I’m on the floor of some stock exchange, at least back when people actually went to the floor. Discussions of approximations and models still occur with the same amount of frequency, but utility is the overarching motivation for most things. I gotta say, I kinda like it.
I’m working for Charlie Starrett and Marc Charest and goodness me those guys are smart. They’re fun to work with, too. Marc is a brilliant computer guy from Canada, charged with teaching my workmate, Dan, and myself how to program properly. Charlie is a WDM/DFT guru from across the pond. He’s got a dry sense of humor and doesn’t hesitate to throw in a quip if the opportunity is afforded to him(sound familiar?), but he’s also incredibly helpful and quite good at explaining why we use the code we’re using.
The project is all to do with simulating WDM with DFT and already, I’ve got results! In spite of wanting to learn a more modern language, all of our stuff is in fortran but goodness me have I learned a lot of fanciness in fortran 90. More than the experience at a national lab or exposure to new DFT stuff, the programming experience I’m gaining is outta sight. I can’t wait to use what I’m learning for my own research when I get back to UCI.
I won’t be using the code I wrote at LANL though. That’d be a federal offense. And I don’t like the prospect of prison. Speaking of prison, I still have to finish my take-home final for Vladimir’s math class.