This is a blog I used to maintain before I started my PhD (up until 2012). Popular posts include: my advice on applying to a PhD, my reflections on what I did right and wrong in college, my thoughts on summiting Monte Rosa, and my series on my year in Cambridge as a Churchill Scholar.


  1. More Advice for Future Churchill Scholars (and Other Cambridge Students)

    Reflections on a year as a Churchill Scholar.

  2. Dispatch from England - Part V

    Advice for future Churchill Scholars (and other Cambridge students) from a former Churchill Scholar.

  3. Dispatch from England - Part IV

    Being £20 north of the Continent (thanks Ryanair!) necessitates frequent travel.

  4. Dispatch from England - Part III

    Life in Cambridge, the 700-year old university that doesn't look a day over 600.

  5. Dispatch from England - Part II

    Being an American in England feels like being a golden retriever puppy at a funeral - incongruously enthusiac.

  6. Dispatch from England - Part I

    Life at Churchill College, home of Cambridge's engineers and Americans.

  7. Guide to Applying to US Science PhD Programs and Fellowships

    How to choose where to apply, how to put together a good application, and how to decide where to go.

  8. College - What I Did Right and Where I Screwed Up

    Reflections on five years at the University of Southern California.

  9. Four Big Ideas from the Open Science Summit 2010

    Microfinance & science, scientific reproducibility, and how to attract more researchers to open science.

  10. The State of Theory in Neuroscience, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Data

    A physicist's first impressions of neuroscience.

  11. The Zealot King Problem & An Operational Version of Rice's Theorem

    Musings on Turing machines inspired by Sipser's 'Introduction to the Theory of Computation.'

  12. Better Metrics for Education

    Why today's tests are unnatural and some thoughts on how to improve them.

  13. The Dematerialization of Life or "Hey, Where'd All My Stuff Go?"

    One unexpected consequence of the digital age - no objects to evoke memories.

  14. When and How Do I Learn Something?

    Strategies and actions that have helped me learn and retain material.

  15. Thoughts on Randomness

    How should we define and measure randomness?

  16. What's Your Ideal Classroom Experience?

    Less lecturing and more collaborative problem-solving.

  17. Succubi, Ripeness, & Saturation - Hitting the Scientific Sweet Spot

    How should a young scientist choose a field with lots of opportunity?

  18. Learning to Read (Scientific Papers)

    How to parse the terse, unfamiliar language of the scientific paper.

  19. Summiting Monte Rosa - Cults, Thoughts, and Chocolate at 4500m

    What went through my mind climbing my first glacier in the Italian Alps.

  20. Itinerant Science - Out of the Office and into the Wild

    No one really believes cubicles foster creativity - so why do work in them?

  21. Italy - Small Portions, Smaller People

    Why are Americans, and their plates, so large?

  22. Science from the Source - Best of Scientist Blogs

    Few scientists write about their work for the popular audience, but here are some of my favorites.

  23. Benvenuto a Torino - A Day in the Life of a Mountain-Dwelling Physicist

    That time I lived in the foothills of the Italian Alps for the summer.

  24. Pottery, Churches, and Palaces Aren't Enough

    The damaging effect of history's focus on the powerful and tangible.

  25. 3 Ways to Experience a Scene

    The romantic, analytical, and evocative approaches to viewing a scene.

  26. Trained Attention & Discovering the Silent Stories

    Our attention is often so trained that we miss the most interesting stories around us.

  27. Why the World Needs New Currencies

    Our current monetary system doesn't always reward those who deserve it.

  28. The Four Shades of Decision Making

    How should we define and measure randomness?

  29. Welcome to India

    The (mis)adventures of USC students trying to bring clean water to an Indian village.

  30. This is China

    Some defining moments for my summer in China.

  31. Luoyang - The China that Doesn't Speak English

    A weekend trip to Luoyang for mountains, temples, and crypts.

  32. Nanjing - In Search of Ancient China

    A weekend trip to Nanjing for WWII museums, temples, and ancient city walls.

  33. UNESCO's Disneyfinger

    UNESCO World Heritage status is usually considered an honor, but it has its drawbacks.

  34. Hangzhou - The Adventure that Was Going to Be

    A weekend in Hangzhou with the other USC Global Fellows.

  35. Rolling Out the Red Carpet for Foreigners

    There's a big difference between how nationals and foreigners are treated in China.

  36. Engineering Everything

    As we learn more about the world, everything becomes engineerable.

  37. Huangshan - A Breath of Fresh Air

    Hiking one of China's most famous and beautiful (and crowded) mountains.

  38. Just How Big is China?

    Even hiking a mountain involves waiting in line.

  39. Preparing for China - Goals

    My goals for my summer (internship) in Shanghai.

  40. Preparing for China - Expectations

    What I expect for my summer internship in Shanghai.

  41. Preparing for China - The Situation

    I'm being paid to work in Shanghai for the summer and I'm gonna write about it.