Surviving & Thriving as a Post-Grad, Part 1
Obey the Fundamental Laws of Physics
Case Study: Pretend you are driving a McLaren F1 (a $1million car…I like this dream), you hit the gas and its 627hp V12 engine mightily roars. Right out of the gate you can accelerate 0-60mph in 3.2 seconds, incredible! But what happens as your speed increases? To simply accelerate from 180-200mph (a change of merely 20mph, one-third the original change) it takes 7.6 seconds! It took more than twice as long to only accelerate one-third the original change! And as your speed increases it becomes ever difficult to continue increasing your speed. Max speed ever recorded in a McLaren F1 is 243mph, and I am sure the driver kept trying to push the accelerator harder and harder just so he could reach 244mph, but it never happened.
Why was he unable to go faster? It is because he could not supply enough energy! His engine only had 627hp and the fuel consumption rate was incredibly high.
Now let’s take this to the next level: you are flying an amazing space shuttle and you are approaching the speed of light (186,000 miles per second). As you go faster, you realize that you need more and more fuel just to go a little bit faster. It keeps getting more and more difficult. You soon realize that you can’t reach the speed of light, and you conclude this because you finally come to the realization that you need an infinite amount of energy to move this fast. I repeat, it would take an infinite amount of energy to accelerate an object with mass to the speed of light. The speed of light is the upper limit for the speeds of objects with positive rest mass. (Thank you Einstein, this is all solvable through his famous equation.)
So what? Who cares? I’m bored; let me go now….you are so close, hang in there!
You have been a student for many years; after all, you are in graduate school. There was a time when little energy was needed to get you through. You would even sleep during lectures because you already knew it and you were the guy or gal who would always ask questions trying to stump your professor. And then, you started advancing and realizing that you needed to put more energy into it, and it was hard! And then you saw the next step and it seemed so close, but it took like 20 times the effort or more. Your thesis and dissertation will feel as if you are trying to travel at the speed of light. Thanks for the encouragement, right? But wait, it gets worse!
Consider now the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics: in an isolated system, that system will tend toward disorder unless energy is added. Do you remember what your bedroom looked like as a teenager? I prove my point!
This is helpful because it makes us realize that the energy needs to be focused. If the McLaren F1 had a bad exhaust system, then the fuel which was being fed into the engine would not all correspond to usable mechanical energy in that isolated system. There would be wasted energy, and because the energy would be lacking, the system would obviously tend toward disorder. This is why it gets worse. If your energies are not focused onto the Thesis or Dissertation (or whatever the goal may be), you will tend toward disorder! And this is fatal; you will never achieve that goal which you had set out to achieve.