What’s the big idea?


in Daily updates, M.Phil thesis, Oxford, Writing

Cactus spines

Sorry to be writing more about the thesis. I spent a good fifteen minutes trying to think up something else to write about, as well as flipping through the websites most likely to provide inspiration.

The trickiest thing I am doing at the moment is trying to come up with an over-arching argument for each of my three substantive thesis chapters. Each one has a lot of content – many sources, issues identified as important, and specific points about those issues – but none really has a single massive point to prove. Personally, I am fairly happy to present things as a series of related vignettes on consistent topics and themes. It seems, however, that something more directed and integrated is required. That creates the danger of setting up straw men to knock down. Coming up with an important, novel point that takes 7000 words and a couple of dozen sources of diverse kinds to prove is not an easy thing.

PS. As part of my thesis-completion drive, I am boycotting Adium (a program that combines MSN, AIM, ICQ, Google Talk, and other message programs). People who want to speak with me should try Skype: more meaningful and less likely to carry on for many hours. My apologies to all the friends I have been neglecting, while trying to get through this.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Milan March 19, 2007 at 10:51 pm


That actually sounds pretty brilliant. No need for complex fuel cells, biofuel manufacture, or anything. All you need is some power or force to run a compressor.

Milan March 19, 2007 at 10:52 pm

Wikipedia has more information on air cars.

I am likely to make tomorrow’s post of the day about this.

Milan March 20, 2007 at 1:18 am

It is on Slashdot as well. I am betting that’s where this all came from.

I stopped reading /. so as to try to finish my thesis.

Milan March 20, 2007 at 1:24 am

Looks like it might be a big fraud. I don’t know enough physics to judge.

R.K. March 19, 2007 at 10:48 pm

Tata, the Indian car firm, has released a car that runs on compressed air.

“Most importantly, it is incredibly cost-efficient to run – according to the designers, it costs less than one Euro per 100Km (about a tenth that of a petrol car). Its mileage is about double that of the most advanced electric car (200 to 300 km or 10 hours of driving), a factor which makes a perfect choice in cities where the 80% of motorists drive at less than 60Km. The car has a top speed of 68 mph.”

“Refilling the car will, once the market develops, take place at adapted petrol stations to administer compressed air. In two or three minutes, and at a cost of approximately 1.5 Euros, the car will be ready to go another 200-300 kilometres.

As a viable alternative, the car carries a small compressor which can be connected to the mains (220V or 380V) and refill the tank in 3-4 hours.

Due to the absence of combustion and, consequently, of residues, changing the oil (1 litre of vegetable oil) is necessary only every 50,000 Km.

The temperature of the clean air expelled by the exhaust pipe is between 0 – 15 degrees below zero, which makes it suitable for use by the internal air conditioning system with no need for gases or loss of power.”

Brilliant, no?

A friend March 20, 2007 at 12:46 pm

Been missing you on MSN.

Milan March 20, 2007 at 3:51 pm
R.K. March 20, 2007 at 3:47 pm

Relationships Among Scientific Paradigms

This map was constructed by sorting roughly 800,000 published papers into 776 different scientific paradigms (shown as pale circular nodes) based on how often the papers were cited together by authors of other papers. Links (curved black lines) were made between the paradigms that shared papers, then treated as rubber bands, holding similar paradigms nearer one another when a physical simulation forced every paradigm to repel every other; thus the layout derives directly from the data. Larger paradigms have more papers; node proximity and darker links indicate how many papers are shared between two paradigms. Flowing labels list common words unique to each paradigm, large labels general areas of scientific inquiry.

R.K. March 20, 2007 at 3:49 pm

See also: Map of Science

via MeFi

Anonymous March 21, 2007 at 2:29 pm

“It seems, however, that something more directed and integrated is required.”

Um, yes. That is what a thesis is.

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