I haven’t written a PhD blog post in 3 months. Why is that?

I’m too busy

Nope. I’ve had plenty of time to arse around the internet, engage in productive and unproductive discussions, watch TV, and play games. I have been very busy, but if I’d really wanted to write, I could have.

I haven’t thought about writing

Nope. I’ve thought about this blog pretty much every week. Each time I’d think through things I might want to write about, how to phrase things, what photos and links to include.

I’m not working enough

Tough one. I’m definitely not spending as much of my days on PhD work as I should be, but I’m still working hard. I’ve spent every weekday in the office since the end of August (and some weekends too), on average from 10am – 6pm. Admittedly, a not-insignificant fraction of that time is spent maintaining a connection with the outside world, reading the news, organising my social life, and saving the world. But I’m working too.

I’m not making progress

Again, not true (I hope). Since my last post I’ve discovered 2 (possibly 3) new eclipsing cataclysmic variables, written two pieces of software to help with my data reduction work, progressed with the AMI transient alerts software, spent a productive week in Warsaw at the Gaia transients workshop, observed a new eclipsing AM CVn variable discovered by Gaia/ASASSN, and led a successful 7-night observing run at the 2.4m Thai National Telescope with ULTRASPEC. That’s where I am now, bored out of my mind because it’s 3:30am and we haven’t opened yet due to high humidity (5 of the 7 nights have been successful).

I’m not motivated

Yeah, okay, this could be it. Every time I think about the future I’m filled with despair. Mostly the future of our planet (it’s badbad, bad, bad, bad, really bad), actually, and of our so called ‘civilised society’. But also my own personal future. I’m yet to find a branch of astronomy I find fascinating enough to make me want to be an astronomer. There are some really enjoyable, fun and engaging aspects to my work as a research student, but overall I’m not enthusiastic enough about it. My peers are so engaged in their work that a bad day, or even a bad week, couldn’t throw them of course. They love what they do, and they want to do it. I can’t say the same. I like some bits of what I do, but overall I’m just looking ahead to the end of the PhD, and moving on to something else. Astronomy is fascinating, complicated and sexy, and I love sharing what I’ve learned with others, but I feel like I care too much about the world to sit and stare at the stars.

High time resolution light curve of a newly discovered eclipsing CV, taken with ULTRASPEC at the TNT

High time resolution light curve of a newly discovered eclipsing CV, taken with ULTRASPEC at the TNT