My summer vacations took place just after a week spent in Ecuador, where I gave 6 hours of lectures on LHC physics and statistics for data analysis to astrophysics PhD students. I did report about that and an eventful hike in the last post. Unfortunately, the first week of my alleged rest was mostly spent fixing a few documents that the European Commission expected to receive by August 31st. As a coordinator of a training network, I have indeed certain obligations that I cannot escape.
I spent my vacation time in the islands of Paros and Mykonos, in the Greek Cyclades archipelago. The two islands are remarkable for their beautiful beaches as well as for their night life, but I only enjoyed the first, using nights to sleep as much as I could. It seems to have worked, as after a few days I could indeed feel a distinct decrease in my stress level.
On one of my swims in Agia Anna, a beautiful beach in Mykonos, I met a very large turtle, and I was able to follow it for a while, until we got dangerously far from the coastline. As I discovered later, the animal is known to visit the area as some of the fishermen there feed it. I found several videos of this creature in the web, and thought I would post one below. Here it is.
Physics-wise, during these two weeks I did not accumulate a lot of news to report, although there are a couple of nice new results from CMS and ATLAS that I wish to cover in the next few days.
On other news, I was happy to see that the CERN Courier finally published a very positive review of my book "Anomaly!" by prof. Andrea Giammanco (Louvain University), but that for some reason did not correspond to any peak in the sales of the book. That is unfortunate, but indeed I did not write the book to make money, so I have nothing to complain about.
Indeed writing a book is a very time-expensive business. So when I was recently asked, by a representative of a well-known scientific publisher, to write a lean introductory book on Nuclear and Particle physics, I balked. Writing a textbook is a whole lot different from writing a sci-pop book, and I estimate it would take me the better part of one year to do it even if I shared the task with a colleague who could take on the Nuclear physics part of it.
My commitments for 2018 are already over-saturating the working time, so the simplest thing to do would be to gently refuse. But I unfortunately love a challenge, so I am still considering taking on this one. However, there is another thing to consider apart from overbooking myself with a new book writing task. In fact, there are still other potential ways to further overbook my agenda, all of which are attractive in some way.
The first one is to accept an offer to hold a 40-hour course on Statistical Methods in Physics Analysis for Master Students in Statistics - I have been offered this for a while now, and have so far dodged the commitment. It would be a lot of fun, but also quite demanding to put it together. Then there is a similar potential course that I might be offered for a new data science curriculum - and that one would be similar in terms of commitment. And then there are lots and lots of new ideas for physics analyses... Alas, I fear they will never see the light. In addition to these, there is a more revolutionary, very time-consuming activity I have been considering: doing better the things I already currently do.
It might sound like a joke, but consider. All of the tasks and obligations I have signed up to in the past few years are performed less well than they could be at present, because I simply have not enough time to devote to them. I coordinate a EU network, coordinate a line of research in Padova, am editor of a journal, advisor of a PhD student, I teach courses to PhD schools and sit in the CMS statistics committee, I blog here, etcetera. And none of the above activities are performed with the care I would like to put in them. Wouldn't it be best to avoid new commitments and concentrate on those I already have ? Even better would be to drop some of the above, to be sure that what is left gets all of my attention.
So what should I do ? I know this blog is read by fellow academics and this problem is a common one. So if you have an advice, please share it below. Should I take on the book writing thing ? Or radiate off some of the less interesting commitment to cool down a bit ?