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Seek and ye shall find – that it’s a harder journey than you ever imagined.

Luboš Motl takes off on Nautilus’ disillusioned ex-physicist. “Bob Henderson wrote an autobiography for Nautil.Us” and that provided the ammunition for a rant on Life’s Journey that any college freshman with ambition should read carefully.

This is a sketch of the “path towards the deep laws of the Universe” that I already had in mind when I was 4 years old or so – and I think that other physicists who don’t relate to Henderson’s complaints would tell you something similar. Henderson is telling us that he was gradually discovering some of these things during his grad school years. One actually has to work hard at some moment, be materially modest, be confused much of the time, and try many paths that don’t lead to interesting outcomes, while the greatest discovery in a century arrives relatively rarely (approximately once a century, if you want to know).

Those are shocking facts!

You should have known it before you entered the graduate school.

In the college but also in the later years, I was talking to lots of people who begged for recommendations like that. What should I do not to get lost? My answer was never so direct but yes, my current answer would be: If you need this leadership repeatedly, just quit it. If you don’t know what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and where you are going, and how you may roughly get there, then it’s a bad idea to start or continue the journey. People who are picking an occupation should feel some “internal drive” and they should have at least a vague idea what they’re doing, why, and how. Again, I don’t think that this common sense only holds in theoretical physics. Theoretical physics only differs by the deeper caves in which one may get lost – because deeper caves are being discovered or built by theoretical physicists, too.

There are more “shocking facts” from a ‘been there, done that’ source. When Motl gets on a rant, he can spin off some very useful information and ideas and fodder for introspection and analysis. Heave to and take a gander.