Is it helpful to write about the moments when you’re not sure you can do what you’ve set out to do?

Does writing about doubt give it the energy to overcome you?

Is it empowering, later, to look back upon your progress and see that you doubted yourself and nevertheless overcame your obstacles?

Isn’t doubt a realistic part of every big dream?

Does acknowledging doubt give power to your detractors, who will now always have something tangible to point at when they say, “I told you you took on too much … I told you this was crazy … I told you you couldn’t do it” ?

Is a moment of doubt merely an opportunity for reflection, a time to synthesize the goal into your life as a whole and make the necessary course corrections?

Is expressing doubt a way to communicate to your friends that you need their support?

Is doubt a touch of reality creeping back into the fantasy, poised to shatter it?

Is doubt the expression of lack of confidence, which can only be overcome by harder work and more success?

Doubt in the face of the status quo seems to be an essential element of good mathematics and good physics. It’s the acknowledgment that things don’t make sense to you the way they are supposed to — the way everyone tells you that they should. It’s the step before creativity, before experiment, before speculation, before breakthrough.

“I’m not sure I can do it” oft comes just ahead of “I did it!”


Summer vacation, part 4 of 5

I did get myself a few nice things for my 45th birthday — all additions to my geeky-ass bookshelf.

First and second of all, I searched the Half Price Books website on a whim, looking for the other two volumes of the physics texts I’ll need for Physics 181 in the spring. Did you know they have an online store, listing books from all sorts of locations? I found one for 99 cents (the first edition, but it should do), then searched for “Feynman” and found Volume III of his Lectures on Physics for 99 cents as well (a library discard — shame on them!). Coincidentally, it was printed in July 1966, just the same as my Volume I that I found at a local store for something like 25 or 50 cents. I love getting every volume in the same edition in a set. Look out, Volume II!

Collect them all and get a free set of bongo drums!

I also found a used copy of the other Physics 181 text that was missing, from While I was there I picked up a lovely-looking book, Classic Feynman: All the Adventures of a Curious Character, that is not only a consolidation of two Feynman texts but also includes an audio CD of a talk he gave in 1975 about his time at Los Alamos working on the Manhattan Project.

One more Feynman bio — really two in one.

So yes, I treated myself. I also received a Kindle Fire and was pleased to see that everything I had on Kindle 1 was, magically, already present on Kindle 2. Hello Newton, hello Copernicus; good to see you again. I will try to spend as much time with you as I will with Angry Birds.

Work-wise I’m staying busy at my student job. All chaos broke loose on my missed opportunity for full-time work in terms of it being offered to me again, but since I had already registered for all those classes in the fall and agreed to take on some really interesting projects with my current employer, I decided to stay the current course and gear up for finishing the degree on time rather than in 20 years.

94-year-old college graduate Hazel Soares