Ad infinitum

I have not touched my project since mid-July due to other pursuits, but I have been asked every day this week what I did with my summer. I will post, more or less, what I tell people who ask me that.

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Copy and paste (erase and redraw)

Hello friends,

My model uses discrete time steps, and events in the simulation always follow the same, predictable order:

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This past week has been spent worrying about one type of bird: the floater. The birds I’m modeling breed in a fixed number of breeding territories, and typically there are more birds born than there are territories to accommodate them. Because there are no territories for them to breed in, they don’t reproduce, but they still hang around, eating food, trying to steal mating territories, and accumulating mercury.

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She lives, she breathes, she is beautiful

To my always growing audience of enthusiastic readers and loving admirers,

“What’s new?” people like to ask me about my project. “How’s the research?” they wonder. “Are the birds safe yet?”

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An upside-down arch

I have the feeling that a lot of research projects follow this familiar pattern, where the investigator starts with a burning question and lofty ambitions; solving a problem that’s never been examined before, potentially reaching a breakthrough that other scholars will cite for years and maybe even change the trajectory of your area of study. But then as you actually start working, you run in to all of these obstacles; how to do this, how to do that, whether you can collect enough data, whether all of your methods are correct, whether your background information and assumptions are correct. Every step you take forwards, it seems like you get further away from an answer because of all of these unforseen problems and difficult questions you come across. You start out high, then your spirits start flagging once you realize how¬†hard what you’re doing is, until something finally clicks and you maybe end up with some sort of meaningful result. It’s like descending into a valley and trying to come up the other side; it’s like looking at an upside-down arch.

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