Forever imposter

Still faking it

A whole week off for Thanksgiving break! It would be nice to just sit around and do nothing, but I have a lot of work to do for my courses. I am in the Ph.D. Physics program at the University of Vermont and the material is very challenging and demanding. So far, I have been doing pretty well by my standards. I am required to maintain a 3.0-grade point average which shouldn’t be too difficult given my academic history and abilities. The transition from a second-tier state university in Massachusetts to the top university in Vermont necessitates more time studying, harder classes, and higher expectations. I continually doubt that I am up to the task.

My humble abode.

I strung up some fairy lights in my room and coincidentally the holidays are upon me. I really need them for illumination, but if people want to think I’m festive that’s fine. My aversion to Christmas is well-documented but Thanksgiving also doesn’t mean so much when you’re alone. The days will pass too quickly and I need to focus on getting things done for school.

The big thing I’m working on is a project for my Computational Physics course. My idea is to create a molecular dynamics simulation (MDS) in python and use it to compute some thermodynamic properties of the molecules. I think I can pull off a ‘simple’ 2D simulation, but 3D is going to use a lot of computing power. Also, My ‘particles’ are just points with no size, they do have an arbitrary mass though. Once I get the periodic boundary conditions working correctly, the other components will work together better. The periodic conditions are necessary because I can’t simulate an infinite volume but I also don’t the particles bouncing off the walls. The idea is that a particle leaves some region but reappears at the other boundary. There is still something wrong with my code – the numbers are way too big, like 10^50 too big!

for k in range(t_iter):
# first, get forces at current position, store in column 0
    for ip in range(Natom-1):
        for iq in range(ip+1,Natom):
            rx = x[ip] - x[iq]
            ry = y[ip] - y[iq]
            rdist = np.sqrt(rx**2 + ry**2)
        
            if 0 < rdist < 2.5:
                fx[ip, 0] += force(rdist)*rx/rdist
            else:
                fx[ip,0] += 0.0
            if 0 < rdist < 2.5:
                fy[ip, 0] += force(rdist)*ry/rdist
            else:
                fy[ip,0] += 0.0
            
# second, move the particles            
    for j in range(Natom):
        x[j] += vx[j]*dt + .5*fx[j,0]*dt**2
        y[j] += vy[j]*dt + .5*fy[j,0]*dt**2
    
# third, impose boundary conditions
    for j in range(Natom):
        x[j] = image(x[j])
        y[j] = image(y[j])

Mental health

I rarely speak to people these days and when I do I act like it’s a huge imposition on me. For years, I had weekly or at least monthly meetings with a psychologist, but that ended when I moved to Vermont. Now, I only have myself to talk to and that is not ideal. Listening to myself is the source of so many of my problems. Plus, my life depresses me so dwelling on it does not make me feel better about the world. I have been rolling the idea of virtual therapy around in my head but I’m not sure if my insurance would cover it. I probably need it though.

There are some big things that I have to process if I ever hope to find any kind of happiness or at least peace. Admit it, I’m not a normal well-adjusted person. I have no idea how interpersonal relationships and feelings work. The only place I feel at all comfortable is in academic settings. Even at university, I still feel like I’m an imposter who doesn’t belong there at all. I belong in a safe and quiet secluded place with regulated contact with the outside world. But that means I am going to be alone forever. That’s depressing. Someday I’ll share my concerns about life expectancy being too long.

Thanksgiving Day

Today is Thanksgiving Day. What am I thankful for? I am in a good place in life. Studying graduate-level physics at a university is about the best I can hope for really. I have a place to live which is better than being homeless like I was back in 2015 to 2017. There is money in my bank account and food in the refrigerator. My little electric space heater keeps me nice and toasty even on the coldest days. Basically, all the little things in life are taken care of. I have my computer, my physics classes, clothes to wear, a car to drive, and even some edible marijuana.

I received my Covid booster shot on Monday but have been feeling under the weather a little because of an unfortunate bus ride where I was in the path of cold wet air for the whole trip. I can go to the doctor if I get sick – one of the perks of my graduate teaching assistantship. Aside from the cyst on my chin that needed to be drained on the first week of classes, I have been in reasonably good health. No chronic illnesses or crippling conditions – except mental ones.

I don’t plan on doing much of anything today. Undoubtedly, I will mess around with the code for my project. I revamped a lot of it and the results are improved but still not what I am hoping for. Then again, I’m not certain what I should be looking for. Just calculating the total kinetic energy of the system doesn’t illuminate the problem. An alternative is to attack the problem from a totally different coding perspective, by creating a class of particles with specific attributes. I have been shying away from that approach because the code is beyond my current skill level. Then again, everything is beyond one’s skill level until one’s learns how to do it.

The end is near

I should wrap up this post. I accomplished nothing on my project so now tomorrow will be Friday and all of a sudden I am running out of time. There is still a new quantum homework to get started on!


  • A rigid rotor has two particles of mass m attached to the ends of a massless rigid rod of length a. The rotor is free to rotate in three dimensions about the center of mass. This is a model for the rotational motion of a homonuclear diatomic molecule, a molecule with two identical nuclei.
  • By expressing the Hamiltonian in terms of the orbital angular momentum, show that the allowed energies of this rigid rotor are
E_l = \frac{\hbar l(l+1)}{ma^2}

I watched the new Dune movie and I still think it’s a great story. Some people fuss about remakes “not being the same” as the original but I think a fresh take is good. Except for when it’s in bad taste. I have watched a lot of television the last few days like I’m avoiding doing my schoolwork. I’m sure there is grading to do too. My mind has been pretty well occupied recently by the fact that tomorrow makes exactly five years of sobriety.

It was Saturday, November 26 2016 that I last had anything to drink. I don’t remember much except having to get into the ambulance, it was nighttime, the cops were there. At some point at the hospital, the nurse asked me if I wanted help and I said yes. The next thing I knew I was being taken to the treatment center, again by ambulance. Nobody up here knows anything about any of that. There’s probably not many people who do.

Author: earthling75

I'm a student and teacher of physics. This site began in 2018 as part of my recovery, but I keep it around for some reason still.

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