Slow progress — but progress nonetheless

This week I’m in the Netherlands, visiting colleagues at the Lorentz Institute at Leiden University. Leiden is a beautiful place– a scaled-down, tourist-free version of Amsterdam– and the institute is nice too. It’s the oldest theoretical physics institute in the Netherlands and has played host to many greats of the field, including Ehrenfest, Fermi and Einstein.

I am here to work on my own small contribution to science. My colleagues and I are currently drafting a paper on the work which has taken up the majority of the first year of my PhD. It’s been a slow process, and a lesson in the patience that research often demands. In fact, more than patience, persistence is required, especially when problems continually arise and it seems that every decision you make is choosing the best of a bad lot.

The progress has been slow, but not at a standstill, and we finally have some results to put into the draft. I enjoy writing, and I can say with total honesty that drafting the paper has been more enjoyable than the work itself. It’s a rewarding process, seeing the coalescence of so much chaos into a few neat equations and figures. Therein a challenge also lies: the art of distilling your words down to the bare necessities while still treading the fine line of originality.

This week we also plan to start work on the next project, on which I will have a leading role. I’m looking forward to continuing this collaboration, as we work well as a team and Leiden is a wonderful place to visit.

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