Early setbacks- Week thirteen as a PhD student

PhD Life


I feel as if I have been cruising with a strong tailwind for quite a while now; this week has not felt the same. The experiments I had been planning for months did not go as well as I would like. I was extracting volatile compounds from the headspace of bagged salad and then analysing the extracted compounds on a GC-MS system. I was expecting a high turnout of volatiles from the bagged salad; however, all I found was remnants of the extraction fibre. Residues of the extraction fibre were all I saw, until three days of continuously running samples, at roughly one sample an hour. The most disconcerting factor about all the experiments was that I only needed to detect one volatile. I can then track this volatile over time to see how it changes in concentration; this will then give me an idea of what day of shelf-life the salad is at: in theory. As I could not find anything for a few days, my mood was very low at this time. It made me reflect on how, after a while, you never really notice that everything is going well, a sort of hedonic adaptation. I was certainly due a failure; on reflection, I am still up and should expect a burst bubble soon.

Due to the experiments I have been running, I have had to revise and learn how to analyse the results I am getting, i.e. how to read an MS trace. From a subjective position, before I was doing my PhD I would have expected someone who was doing a PhD just to know how to do all the fundamental scientific analysis. However, as it turns out, YouTube and Google still hold most of my knowledge. My years of development through academia have allowed me to learn a few things; it is as if my operating system has improved and I am now much quicker to execute links to where the information is in external storage. My mind is partially in the cloud.

I cannot think of much more to add to this weeks review, I feel quite a bit heavier from the Christmas period, and my time off from running certainly has been felt on my last two runs. I am expecting this will normalise toward the end of January. My investment portfolio is up almost seven and a half percent, which counter-intuitively is not great news for me, as it now costs me that much more to invest. Ideally, I want the portfolio to stay low for a very long until I am approaching retirement, when a massive bull run ensues. First world problems. I haven’t made new years resolutions before as I found the concept a bit silly, why wait to improve your life? I always thought. However, the Christmas break is usually when I review the past year, so it does make sense on some level; this year I have resolved to reduce the amount of time I spend passively playing video games whilst listening to podcasts.

Notes from the future.

As you may know, these blog posts are approximately four months behind. Looking back at this one, all I can say is, keep your chin up it will all be fine, and the stock market has mirrored those percentages in the negative!



Published by Louis

Spend less than you earn, Invest the surplus, avoid debt. Eat food, not too much, mostly plants

7 thoughts on “Early setbacks- Week thirteen as a PhD student

  1. I like the idea of your mind being partially in the cloud. That’s a good metaphor for what is happening to the nature of human knowledge, and it’s worth an open debate about whether we are better off or worse off for it. I’m on the side of “worse off.” My students say it’s because I am an old guy, but I wonder if they’ll feel that way during the next extended blackout, when they can’t remember how to boil water.

    The idea of thoughts being deferred to the cloud is also potentially a plot for a Science Fiction story. I’m enjoying your posts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I think it is a metaphor suited the current education system (In the UK at least). There is a bulimic approach to learning where you have to consume as much information as possible, and then vomit it up onto an exam paper never to be seen again. I agree with you in the sense that critical thinking and problem-solving seem to be secondary to the ability to ‘meet the marking scheme’.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I like the fact that you understand new thing about science practices, and to know that a scientisit should not know every thing in a previous way , being a scientist is about figure things out and try to find ways and answers , keep going

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well I’m glad the salad was fresh enough not to have volatile s.
    It is perplexing however for me, as I was not certain how the dates ran on your posts. But you have explained it well in this message.
    I was having difficulty with my story over the weekend, as to when to use ‘was’ and ‘were’ i.e. there was some…there were some. However, after hours of playing with the phrase, I went with were.
    I don’t have a PhD, or Masters, and it certainly wouldn’t be in Economics or the Trade Industry (investing). But I do know that here in the US we use our DOW to finance government projects…like underground bunkers and such.
    I’m pretty much thinking that…seeings how the UK is also bankrupt, the same thing happens there. Take your money out before they get to build a better bunker and leave you by the wayside.
    But do not quit your education just yet. After the dust settles, we’re going to need all the smart people we can find.


      1. There are those who live by the Book, and feel these are our 7 years Tribulation. There is a block in London…not part of the city, but called London nonetheless. It holds the Rothschild fortune, and what ever they say goes…it is bleak. So make the most of what you have. Enjoy every minute and family to the fullest, and if I’m wrong, who would be the wiser.
        I’m more concerned about whether to use ‘was’ or ‘were’.


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