Thursday, July 16, 2015

Week 6: Descent

Today at work, it became really clear to me that the summer is almost over.

I've alluded to our progress in a few of my other entries, but Dan and I are truly at the production stage of our project now. There are a few tweaks and optimizations being done, but most time is being spent crushing the Moonlight data cluster with thousands (literally) of calculations all at once. I sure hope the HPC guys and gals don't completely hate us.

The time one has while jobs are running is a very slippery thing. It's easy to get distracted by an article or a book chapter or (honestly, more commonly), a funny picture of a cat. I'm also not used to having downtime while calculations are running because I haven't needed any HPC for any of my code in grad school up until this point. Sure, I ran stuff in undergraduate, but that was eons ago and I had classes + homework to keep my occupied.

One of the best aspects of having free time at work is that I get to write. Fleshing out the story of our results is far and away the most fun part of doing science in my mind, and goodness me do we have a cool story to tell. I'm not entirely sure which parts of it I'm allowed to talk about and which I'm not, so I'll have to be vague, but the true star of our project will be a set of data that totally and completely surprised us. We predicted that one of our models would behave a certain way and it did the opposite. There's a rationalization we're happy with,  and the result is consistent with our other data, but I love a surprise.

Results that confound and befuddle remind me why I like science in the first place; until you set up an experiment and parse the data, you can't be sure of anything.

Sorry that this entry didn't feature any mortal danger or cattle.

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