Monthly Archives: July 2013

#49: Send Those Applications Out!

As we speak, there are unbelievably many places you and I could be applying to that could help us do good science and philosophy, let me share a few examples:

Island Caretaker: That’s right, you are allowed to read and write while living in a paradise island. What else? For introverts its perfect, you get to ignore everyone who’d like to meet, and no family problems will ever reach you in the Caribbean.

Cambridge University: Here is a worldly renowned university, having borne celebrities from Newton to Stephen Hawking, in a city where bike-riding is almost mandatory substitution for traffic smoke. You get an assortment of young aspiring world-class students from all over to help you with the problem you are working on, and you live in a Harry Potter looking world. Not that bad. Now here is the best part: If you are entering postgraduate stage, Bill Gates pays for you!

Fo Guang Shan Temple: This is not for minds of all kinds, but if you are stuck at a complicated math or philosophy problem, and need to make your mind sit quietly for a good while to get ideas straight, maybe a three-month passing through a Buddhist temple in the Phillipines will help you get to the level of abstraction you need. And sure enough, the price is a student-friendly zero.

The takeaway message is that it doesn’t matter if you are entering undergrad, leaving it, or in the middle of an academic guaranteed year, there’s a lot of options which are likely to be better for you to apply than what you’d consider in half an hour thinking about it. There are also careers, what people (are they really people? I wonder)  call real jobs…

For the next month then, here is the Challenge I’ll do: I’ll find out the 7 best places for me to be, anywhere, where I can pursue my academic goals, and I’ll apply to them right away! Notice this is regardless of their application deadlines. That means if I don’t actually apply, I’ll have a separate folder with everything necessary to apply, and the folder name will be a CAPS LOCK DEADLINE for when I will have to strenuously spend 10 minutes of a day to send those ready to be sent files. I’m going towards a postgraduate degree, or a special scholarship for postgraduates – I’ll be receiving a masters soon – there’s a chance I may make it into a fellows program of some sort, a quasi-job if you will, and of course, if applying to a place is separate from applying to whoever pays for that place, both need be done, no halfway cheating.  If you’d like to apply somewhere, to find out if there is a possibility outside what you thought possible before, but way more rewarding, join me for this challenge. Let’s get to it! 

Previous Challenge Tracking

 Writing this blog (Challenge #50 Stop Learning, Start Doing) has been more fun than I thought, I’m reading a book on how to write, I’ve taken some meals with a side of YouTube grammar lessons – I’m from Mexico, so English grammar is not my strong suit – but more than anything, I’m writing three times more than I usually do outside the blog. The feeling of Flow is strong enough that I look at the monitor timer at 21:04, and when I look again, it’s 1:15 and my cellphone is singing “It’s too late to apologize” – the only way I found to laugh my way into bed instead of surfing the web forever, or writing indefinitely.

If you are not a psychologist, it may be worth while to know that Flow is one of the three canonical kinds of happiness humans experience, the others being Meaning and Joy. To think of a peak of Joy, imagine when a group of young fertile clubbers dance and seduce while ecstasy cascades in their brain to the sound of pumping intense music and beaming colorful lights. Meaning is mostly a calm feeling, it is a feeling that there is something greater than yourself moving your actions, it is the feeling that what you are doing matters in an ultimate sense. Meaning is common among academics. A theorem’s proof may last forever, a cure for a disease may help millions, and sometimes, your own understanding of a theory is emotionally worth an exclamation of amazement, those things are different ways of experiencing the Meaningful Life. Flow, as Czikszentmihalyi shows in his TED talk, is an experience of ego dissolution, you become one with the thing you are doing, or what you are being a part of, the world, and you, disappear together, flow is the feeling sought by a contemporary dancer on stage, it’s what it feels like to write an entire story in one sitting, and sometimes it may be what you passively experience when experience a form of art for the first time, which happened to me as I first saw this:  


I should leave on that note, hoping someone else gets to experience the feeling of Flow I once felt to that video. Yet I must remind you that the beauty of classical guitar’s songs most important property is that they make your challenges, if bureaucratic, much more comfortable. Speaking of your challenges, previous self-challengers Petra and The Auricle  will benefit from music, since their own self challenges are absolutely music friendly, writing 500 words a day, and donating selected pieces of one’s wardrobe, both get much better involved in music! By the same token, I hope I can do all those applications I need to over the next month, and my hope is refreshed when I consider it will be in such good company as the best guitar players in the world. I hope your next challenge, to yourself or to me, which we’ll start on August 1st can also benefit of the feeling of Flow, whatever it takes to make you feel it! 

If you just arrived at fourhourscience, take a look at the first challenge as it is the only one you have to go through to jump straight on to the current challenge. Do challenge yourself on the comment section, and every first of the month, I’ll start a challenge chosen by my readers, and ask how they are going at their own self-challenges. Every 15th, I’ll choose one for myself. If you want to give me a challenge, make a comment in the most recent post, which is where I’ll get them from every 1st of the month. To subscribe to fourhourscience.com and keep track of your challenges, click on the blackish square on the bottom right that says follow.  If you are logged in a wordpress account, check the top left instead. – Neotenic

#50: Stop Learning, Start Doing

This is the first post, so let’s cut to the chase: In this blog we’ll be going through a series of  50 challenges. Whatever you want to do, let’s do this together. You like A. J. Jacobs and Tim Ferriss? That’s a good start. You want to deal with your big picture question too? On top of that you like Science and Philosophy? You’ve come to the right place, but don’t take a seat yet, this is not a place to rest your gaze and get your warm fuzzy feeling inside by making a comment. This is a place to do.

All you’ll need prior to reading this blog is linked below:

You want to be one of the few Self-Actualizers out there? This won’t be any easy, and though we’ll make the journey together, no one besides you can do it for you.

But before we start, there are Six things you need to know, and they’re gonna hurt like few things you read before, I’ve read them yesterday, and they struck all my emotional chords, and prompted me into action.

Six Harsh Things That Will Make You a Better Person

Nothing in this first post is linked by chance. You don’t read it, you won’t close, you’ll lose, its as simple as that.

Read it? Well, that is better. You have just learned a lesson. Allow me to twist some knobs:

#6. The World Only Cares About What It Can Still Get from You

#5. The Hippies Were Wrong

#4. What You Produce Does Not Have to Make Money, But It Does Have to Benefit People

#3. You Hate Yourself Because You Don’t Do Anything That You Think Should Be Done

#2. What You Are Inside Only Matters Because of What It Makes You Do

#1. Everything Inside You Will Fight Challenging Yourself

If you are in love with science, or philosophy…

…then you’ll be very good at learning and grasping knowledge, not necessarily at doing much with it. So here is the first challenge that I’m putting to myself, and ask you to join

  • First Challenge: Do Something, Do Anything!

It’s that simple. Commit for a month, how bad could it be?

Here is what I’ll do: I’ll write this blog, with a new challenge every 1st and every 15th of the month. Every 15 days I’ll mention how am I doing at the just finished attempt, after a month, and how the first 15 days of the other one felt so far. So every 15th day of the month I’ll come up with a new challenge to me, and check how you are doing on yours. Yet I don’t want you to just say what your challenge for you is in the comment section. So every 1st day of the month, I’ll start pursuing a challenge suggested by my readers here. That’s right, you get to decide what will do for a month! Half my challenges are in your hands.

If you got up to here you have a few options now:

1) Quietly step outside like no one’s looking, pretend you have not one thing you’d like to do that you’ve postponed since forever

2) Soundly walk away, but not without inventing some really absurd challenge for me and leaving it in the comment section. Specially now, during this venture’s beginning, there’s a good chance I’ll do it. Get a kick out of me.

3) Decide your first challenge, put it in the comment section. You’ll just have to stick to it until the 1st of next month. Then show up here and comment how you did.

Here are some suggestions, but don’t get attached, you know yourself better than I do:

Start writing a paper on a subject you care about, write half hour a day minimum. 

Spend 7 minutes a day doing the scientific workout, stupid music style: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LezARmLDu6U

Try to understand how something you always took for granted works, ¿do you really know what goes on in telephone? ¿Do you really know a reason not to use the upside down question mark?

Talk to a stranger a day about things you really care about. Forget ice-breakers, celebrity gossip, and weather, tell them what you expect from life, show them how the macaque brain works, explain runaway selection. I assure you, it will be more fun than you think. 

As I said, don’t get that attached, your invention is the one challenge that most matters. Get to it!