Thursday, 12 April 2012

The Theorist's Pleasure

So you're working on a physical problem, and you need to calculate some physical quantity.  So you sit down to start writing, and it's soon clear that this is going to be a tricky calculation.  But that's no reason to quit; you are confident you can overcome any challenge.  So you keep going, but the intermediate expressions are getting long and unwieldy, and you are faced with the question of errors.  It begins to occupy all your thoughts, and you work to seek and implement checks to catch mistakes.  When you do, you feel frustrated and return to hunt them down.  When you don't, you can only feel temporary happiness because you must press on in search of the goal.

As things continue, you hit that crucial point where expressions start to simplify, rather than the reverse.  With the end in sight your anticipation of success grows, but you must control yourself, holding back to avoid going of prematurely and letting a mistake slip in.  But the emotional excitement grows, as the hours, days or even months of work look to pay off, line by line as things simplify till, finally, you get to spurt out the result in a short, beautiful expression...

Then, afterwards, you feel really mellow and relaxed.

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