Physics, Philosophy, and Scientific Progress — Einstein

A great little find, words of wisdom regarding Physics, Philosophy, and Scientific Progress from Einstein in his address to the International Congress of Surgeons. I caught a glimpse of the printed version in a book at the International Museum of Surgical Science​ earlier today and found the full version when I got home

Words that really struck me — and some thoughts:
“Thinking alone can never lead to any knowledge of external objects. Sense perception is the beginning of all research, and the truth of theoretical thought is given exclusively by its relation to the sum total of those experiences” — I think theory for theory’s sake if fine — it can be beautiful and, though its applicability to the real world may not be immediately obvious, it can spark some idea or become a tool in solving real world problems. But for the most part, I have more assurance in the relevance of theory grounded in empirics.

“Specialization in almost all branches of human endeavor has, to be sure, resulted in unprecedented achievements–however, at the expense of narrowing the individual’s field of vision… as every graduate student knows.” “If some part of the human body has gotten out of gear, a person with sound knowledge of the whole complex organism is needed to put it right.” — PhDs are often recommended to find a niche and occupy it as the expert, but it’s important to keep the broader picture in mind.

Physics, Philosophy, and Scientific Progress — Einstein

Staring at the Ceiling

What does a PhD entail?

Honestly, a good portion of it is spent staring at the ceiling, staring at the wall, staring at your coffee.

Introspection is one of the most powerful tools we have as academics.

What is the question? Why is it interesting? How can I tweak it? Who do I want to be remembered as?

What will be my contribution?

Staring at the Ceiling