Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Ups and Downs + Naked Moose???


So today was a real mixed back in the research department. This morning I resigned myself to having come to an utter standstill with one of my three ongoing research projects - there's a problem with my code somewhere and it leaks significant amounts of memory while performing quite a lot of numerical calculations. The language I'm working in I picked up just this summer, and it's beyond my current knowledge/skill level, and the contents of the less than helpful 'help files' to resolve this leak. I'm resorting to a very kloodgy solution for the time being - added 3 gigs of ram to the laptop I'm working on, and now it just takes a lot longer for the constant memory leak to become fatal. Ugly, so very ugly.

Having accepted failure on that front, I switched to my oldest research project during the afternoon. This one has been on-going for about three years now, and is at the point where I should have written and published a paper on it some time ago. However, I suffer from a case of perfectionism, and I haven't really be satisfied or confident enough with my results to finish writing and send my first opus out into the dog-eat-dog world of academic publishing. Not having worked on this project for several weeks now, this afternoon I actually had a nice set of little breakthroughs and small ideas of a new way to look at what happens in my simulational model. Most of the new code required is up and running, and hopefully tomorrow I'll get the rest functional. If things turn out the way I'm predicting, this might finally be the explanatory material I was looking for to round out my paper. I really want to make the first one a good one!

Not that anyone probably cares very much, but here's one of my scribble sheets from brainstorming this afternoon:

Probably another 6-7 of these are still littering my desk back in the academic building. Stories about my lab to come in some future post... it's an interesting place. No stealing my ideas now, y'hear? If my scribbles are even legible that is.

On a different note completely, I read an interesting article today from the Washington Post, about the effects of climate change on a well studied and unique predator-prey sysyem on Isle Royale in Lake Superior. More than 50 years of observations have been done on the wolf and moose populations coexisting on this isolated island, since wolves first crossed the ice from the mainland one winter. It's a rare opportunity in ecology to be able to studying such an important trophic interaction at such a large scale in a relatively closed system. Apparently moose populations are on a severe decline, probably due to increasingly warm summers that stress their physiology, which is better adapted for cold climes. Read the article here (they really do reference naked moose, I promise!) or check out Isle Royale. It's definitely a place I'd love to visit some day.

Ok, enough out of me for tonight. Peace.

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