Everyday Life · Inspirational · Toastmasters

‘Scientific’ Discussion

A dear friend of mine, who is going to fly to US in a short while, suddenly asked during our hang out earlier today,

“Did you realize that our discussions revolve around scientific ideas lately?”

I realized it too and to admit it is quite a funny thing that we chuckled. She’s doing her PhD in Physics. I’m studying in Mathematics. Since we live near the university, most of our mutual friends are students from various field. But it’s not in our habit to talk about our studies or researches when we hang out, because naturally as we go deeper into our field, it is harder to find the same point of interests to talk about.

(In fact, I don’t understand one of my friend’s research in Statistics who was also my classmate in a few classes. Even though we both study Maths, I major in Operational Research.)

I attended my Physics friend’s first PhD assessment. Her research involves slow light and Brillouin scattering (which, obviously, I don’t understand and I was there for the sole purpose of supporting my friend) and the significant application of her research is to avoid congestion of signal transmission in fiber optics. We talked briefly about her project afterwards.

During the presentation, I met one of our guy friend who’s a tutor in the Physics department. We talked a bit about my study and he said that my dissertation – Ant Colony Optimization, a combinatorial optimization algorithm – can be applied to solve some problems related to random events predictions in quantum mechanics – the big picture of his major of study, nuclear physics. But I said that I am a long way to application into other fields.

Later, we went for a drink and evaluated my friend’s presentation. As we evaluated her English usage, the discussion divert to the issue of whether ‘I were’ or ‘I was‘ is correct. (Turned out that both are correct.)

As we gave our feedbacks, we discussed about another friend’s project in Toastmasters meeting that we attended a day before. Then, I realized that people like us need the Technical Presentation advanced manual so we can learn to make people not related to our field understand our study. “If you can’t tell it, you can’t sell it,” as Papa Gerald puts it.

There is a time when my friend rambles about being a book writer after completing her PhD because she was so inspired by Dr Ridzwan Bakar, the writer of Haji Muda. As the conversation went on and on and on ‘scientifically’, the topic finally divert to ambition and family. Before we parted, we concluded that all women must aspire to be a financially-free PhD-holder homemaker. Make changes to the world while managing a family and home. Wow, what an idea!

It is not impossible. It is achievable. One step at a time. A friend shared an interesting yet undeniable viewpoint about postgraduate study on Facebook – visually simple yet beautifully described:

The illustrated guide of a PhD.

“He knoweth that which is in front of them and that which is behind them, while they encompass nothing of His knowledge save what He will. His throne includeth the heavens and the earth, and He is never weary of preserving them. He is the Sublime, the Magnificent.” [2:255]


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