netJina and Grad School Applications

This past Monday, I had my most recent meeting with Doc Brown about my Astrophysics senior thesis, which went well for a handful of reasons. From now on, what I’m doing for the research will actually be relevant for the final project. No more will I simply be just reading and learning things to get up to speed; I’ve actually started programming for the final project! But, before I get ahead of myself, let’s go over what happened:

gfortran was fixed…
After e-mailing my advisor to set up the meeting, he told me to grab the most recently updated files through the svn, read through them quickly, then compile them to make sure things worked right (just a ./clean and ./make_all to do everything). So, that’s what I did, but I got an error return during the make. I e-mailed him back soon after, and he said that I just needed to update my compiler (I think I was using gfortran 4.2 or 4.3), which I then set out to do. Note that this is all happening on Saturday, which I was thankful that he sent responses so quickly. For the next four hours, I scoured the interblags trying to download and install gfortran 4.6, the most recently released version. Nothing worked, and I got so frustrated that I decided to re-use my startup disk and clear out the bad files that had invariably started to litter my laptop. Come Sunday afternoon, I bit the bullet and stuck with gfortran 4.5 and hoped it would be fine. Thankfully, I could compile files again (something I had lost during the fiasco the day before), but I was getting a different error message back.

So, come the meeting on Monday, Doc Brown checked the error return and figured it out (he was actually using gfortran 4.4, so I didn’t necessarily need to waste all of that time on Saturday). The was actually an “error” in the ./clean command, since one of the directories wasn’t getting cleaned properly. I put that in quotes since it wasn’t an error, really; the command just didn’t clean that directory since the programmer didn’t want to have that directory cleaned. With that, frustration number one was gone, and I felt grateful that it both worked and that it wasn’t my fault it wasn’t working before.

…I’m actually writing the driver program now…
Once the world was in order, and the test (right) was successful, we started talking about the meat of the project: programming the driver program to run through the r-process! We went through the test_burn.f file just so he could explain a few weird points, I asked questions and understood what was going on, then we discussed a bunch of things related to the project. I’ll be writing two/three tester programs first, just to include the weaklib routines and try out a few different starting values, but my final project will be largely similar to the programs I’m writing now. He also pointed me toward a paper from a few years back to read during my programming to determine some start values and get an overview of an actual application of what I’m doing.

…and I have one reference letter lined up!
Finally, once things were said and done, and I was well-informed on my next steps in my senior thesis, I asked the question that was in the back of my mind for the last month or two: would you be able to write a reference letter for my grad school applications for me? Almost immediately he responded yes, which was a great confidence boost and an amazing way to start the week off. I just had to send him some files (statement of purpose, c.v., etc.) to help him write it, which I compiled and sent out earlier today. I’m just glad that I have one letter set, so I just need two more (I’ve e-mailed one prospect, and I’m going to try to catch one of the others tomorrow or Monday, but if not he’ll get an e-mail as well).

The meeting couldn’t have gone better, at least for the point I am right now. I’m just glad that one stressor has been removed from my life, so things should go much more smoothly now…

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