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Old 08-14-2015, 01:20 PM   #21
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Just so you have the complete picture, Starting next April, I will be driving around the country in a motorhome while studying Organic chemistry. A true test of concentration!


>> So I guess my question is - has anyone come up with a way to feed their itch for complexity that doesn't require a lot of commitment to a schedule?


So, my answer to this is to find a hard problem to solve and get after it. The key is to make this problem your passion.
That's likely the case - isolating down on an interesting problem and then learning what's needed, rather than trying to generically learn first.

Based on my undergraduate organic chemistry classes, that WON'T be the area <laugh>. I'm impressed at anyone willing to tackle that again. I think those were the hardest classes to get through that I ever tackled.
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Old 08-14-2015, 02:12 PM   #22
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I was thinking law school as well but I would want to work in non-profit, therefore the cost of the education is not worth it. Would be cheaper to do paralegal certificate though it is an outlay for a good program.
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Old 08-14-2015, 02:13 PM   #23
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>> I think those were the hardest classes to get through that I ever tackled.


Unfortunately, I don't think that is my biggest challenge. Its the lab work I am worried about. As a software developer, I am fearless in working in a logical... non - physical world.


Chemistry and micro-biology is real world. How do I actually perform some kind of experiment and then determine the results. I can study and learn... but how do I learn lab techniques?


I might be able to audit some college chemistry classes. Most likely, it will be the school of hard knocks!
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Old 08-14-2015, 05:39 PM   #24
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Chemistry and micro-biology is real world. How do I actually perform some kind of experiment and then determine the results. I can study and learn... but how do I learn lab techniques?
Volunteer at an academic lab?

A former colleague of mine moved from computer science to plant / molecular biology. He got affiliated with a academic lab at a top research university and eventually began running his own experiments. His CS background helped because some of his work would fall under bioinformatics.

I helped him out with a few wet experiments. There's an incredible amount of grunt work just to get 1 data point. Mostly it was just following a preset protocol (e.g. extract the sample from the physical apparatus, centrifuge it, etc.). Designing the protocol was way beyond me, but following it was easy. I suppose if you help on enough experiments, you'll eventually be able to design them as well.

I should note that he was "working" full time at the lab (full time by academic standards). He wasn't salaried but may have pulled some income from grants. It certainly helped that he had PI experience in other fields.
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Old 08-14-2015, 06:17 PM   #25
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Regarding volunteering at a working lab. I worked at a DNA sequencing lab for 15 years. I ran the Instrumentation group. I can tell you that the people working at the lab worked very hard and were very busy. We would accommodate a few summer students, but only if we could identify someone to take responsibility for them. Training the next generation was part of our professional obligation.

I can't imagine taking the time out to allow a retired person to work in the lab at any capacity. My more recent work with university campus faculty give me the same impression about their research labs.

If you can do something like this at all it will depend on knowing someone and their willingness to take you on as a project.
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Old 08-14-2015, 06:39 PM   #26
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Even before retirement we were always doing side projects for our own amusement in software and electrical engineering and I see no reason this would change in retirement. I could see if your field required very expensive equipment, that could be a showstopper. Duplicating the LHC at CERN in your backyard might be problematic.
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Old 08-14-2015, 08:18 PM   #27
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I am trying to understand what has been done with regards to computing BPS invariants and Donaldson-Thomas type invariants of Calabi-Yau threefolds. To make the question more focused, let's say that I am specifically looking at toric Calabi-Yau threefolds for which the relevant data can be described by a quiver (possibly with a superpotential). It seems that there are several different methods that have been employed, but I am having a difficult time sorting out which methods have been found to work in what scenarios. For a given method, I'd appreciate an answer to the following related questions:

In what chambers of the Kähler moduli space can this method be employed?
What manifolds or type(s) of manifolds has this method been used on?
What types of invariants can this method compute? By that I mean, is it only good for numerical Donaldson-Thomas invariants, or can it be refined to get e.g. motivic Donaldson-Thomas invariants.
Is there a known relationship between wall-crossing formulas and this model?
I am still a little foggy on the exact relationship between BPS invariants and Donaldson-Thomas invariants, and so unfortunately I am phrasing my question to be about both of them instead of a particular type.
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Old 08-14-2015, 08:25 PM   #28
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I have no doubt that there are members here who can answer your questions. I am not among that group.
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Old 08-14-2015, 08:57 PM   #29
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>> I can't imagine taking the time out to allow a retired person to work in the lab at any capacity.

Marty...

This has exactly been my experience. I have tried networking and what ever I could think of to get a foot in the door. Your explanation makes good sense.
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Old 08-17-2015, 08:50 AM   #30
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Research sounds glamorous, but it involves doing the same things over and over and over (and over) again, followed by gazillions of measurements (over and over)...

After thirty-two years in "research", much of it spent in a cleanroom environment, I say "no, thanks"! My future "laboratories" will involve my home studio, my kitchen, and the great outdoors.
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Old 08-17-2015, 10:19 AM   #31
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After thirty-two years in "research", much of it spent in a cleanroom environment, I say "no, thanks"! My future "laboratories" will involve my home studio, my kitchen, and the great outdoors.
I have to say I'm leaning that way myself, doing something outside in the field rather than front of a computer screen. But still some interest in the R side of R&D, after spending my career in the D.
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Old 08-17-2015, 11:30 AM   #32
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Many universities have scientific field trips, mostly in the summers, that the general public can sign up for. A friend of mine used to regularly go out on dinosaur digs. You should check to see if there are local opportunities or whether to approach it as both a science and travel opportunity.
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Old 08-17-2015, 11:37 AM   #33
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I am trying to understand what has been done with regards to computing BPS invariants and Donaldson-Thomas type invariants of Calabi-Yau threefolds. To make the question more focused, let's say that I am specifically looking at toric Calabi-Yau threefolds for which the relevant data can be described by a quiver (possibly with a superpotential). It seems that there are several different methods that have been employed, but I am having a difficult time sorting out which methods have been found to work in what scenarios. For a given method, I'd appreciate an answer to the following related questions:

In what chambers of the Kähler moduli space can this method be employed?
What manifolds or type(s) of manifolds has this method been used on?
What types of invariants can this method compute? By that I mean, is it only good for numerical Donaldson-Thomas invariants, or can it be refined to get e.g. motivic Donaldson-Thomas invariants.
Is there a known relationship between wall-crossing formulas and this model?
I am still a little foggy on the exact relationship between BPS invariants and Donaldson-Thomas invariants, and so unfortunately I am phrasing my question to be about both of them instead of a particular type.
Wow, I'm either easily befuddled or not as knowledgeable a physicist as I thought I was, but I don't know the first thing about ANY of the questions asked here. This is with a PhD in Physics, 35 years experience (and an undergrad math degree for good measure).

I guess the real take away from this is that many scientists (and I include myself in this criticism) burrow deep down in their area of of specialization and, over the course of the career, lose awareness of many other branches of their field.
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Old 08-17-2015, 05:28 PM   #34
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My degrees are in Biology. The last 20+ years were spent as a college professor with the 10 years before that as an Industrial Microbiologist and before that 10 years teaching various biology and chemistry classes. Now that I'm retired I'm into exercising the other half of my brain so now I'm a potter. A skill I always wanted to learn. Now I have fun and make my own schedule without regard to making income since I prepared for all of that before retirement. In another couple of decades maybe I'll try something else. Lots of interests to choose from.

Cheers!
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Old 08-17-2015, 08:25 PM   #35
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It has admittedly been a long time since I went to law school, but in my experience there was only one test per course -- the final exam. No other evaluation whatsoever.
It is over 30 years since I graduated law school, but except for a couple of courses, that was how it was when I was in law school. Exceptions: research course in 1st year (pass/fail), course where we represented mental patients in civil commitment hearings, and third year seminar which was a written project (one grade, just not an exam).

To the OP - I find this topic really interested. I'm not a scientist, but I enjoy learning new things. I do a lot of reading on stuff just for fun to learn things. I find though that I personally don't like non-credit courses. I feel that if I'm going to do the work I like having credit for it. I actually like working for a grade and doing tests/assignments.

I actually like being a student. The CC has some courses for seniors, but they are mostly short, not in depth, and have no grades, and give no credit. That doesn't appeal to me.

I've actually thought about taking some for credit courses from the CC, just for fun but getting credit. I've even considered taking some courses at the state university about an hour from our house. But, that is kind of pricy and I have nothing that I really want to study.

I did spend several years about 20 years ago where I did some post-baccalaureate psychology courses and that was interesting enough to me that I actually went to school part-time and earned an MSW degree although I never worked in that field.

I don't really want to have a job, but just learning for the sake of learning is interesting.
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Old 08-17-2015, 08:31 PM   #36
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I worked for 31 years as a wildlife biologist for the fed. govt.. After retiring, I was asked to be on the board for 3 different environmental organizations (which I am now doing). I also volunteer my time teaching environmental ed. to young kids a few days each year, and to college students (summer field camp) a couple days each summer. All of this stuff keeps me in touch with my field of study, and I especially enjoy giving something back to kids/young adults that are interested in natural resources. Plus, it keeps me plenty busy (when added to all of the other family/hobby things I also enjoy doing).
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Old 08-17-2015, 09:36 PM   #37
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It is over 30 years since I graduated law school, but except for a couple of courses, that was how it was when I was in law school. Exceptions: research course in 1st year (pass/fail), course where we represented mental patients in civil commitment hearings, and third year seminar which was a written project (one grade, just not an exam).

To the OP - I find this topic really interested. I'm not a scientist, but I enjoy learning new things. I do a lot of reading on stuff just for fun to learn things. I find though that I personally don't like non-credit courses. I feel that if I'm going to do the work I like having credit for it. I actually like working for a grade and doing tests/assignments.
Good to know about law school. In my undergraduate work, it seemed like I spent way to much time studying for tests and writing papers, which didn't leave a lot of time for extra reading or exploring areas of interest. But time stress was pretty severe then, since I was also working half to full time while in school. I'm mostly cheap - I don't want to pay unless I'm working towards a degree - and I don't really see a purpose in doing that at this point.
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Old 08-17-2015, 10:05 PM   #38
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Many universities have scientific field trips, mostly in the summers, that the general public can sign up for. A friend of mine used to regularly go out on dinosaur digs. You should check to see if there are local opportunities or whether to approach it as both a science and travel opportunity.
Good idea - I'm checking these and Osher Learning Institute. Might be more than enough to engage my head, but not commit to a long-term schedule. Since we travel quite a bit, it's always a trade-off between keeping time free and activities that require a schedule.
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Old 08-20-2015, 03:49 AM   #39
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The w*rk I did in the sciences became ever more constrained and specific. Consequently, I lost a lot of the "love" for the sciences (in general). Now that I've been "away" for a while, I find myself surfing scientific topics of all kinds. I find the ones I'm most interested in have very little to do with what I did to make a living. I have little desire to ever actually "do" anything in the sciences again. Anything rigorous would seem too much like w*rk. I'm more into learning and thinking about scientific issues. YMMV
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Old 10-27-2015, 09:26 PM   #40
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Just a follow up for anyone interested in learning stuff. I tried some of the college Organic chemistry courses that are online. Bottom line, I was not ready.

I did find a real good advanced high school resource called the Khan Academy. The videos are available online, but difficult to use without an internet connection. My search for these lectures in MP4 format led me to WorldPossible/Rachel.

They have a download capability, but it is not reliable to download the 32G USB drive. So, I ordered it for $20.

This Rachel thing is a fantastic learning resource
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