Friday, February 8, 2008

Exhaustion

Around here, we are susceptible to what's affectionately known as "post-experiment syndrome." As of the last couple hours, I too have fallen victim to the infirmity. In purely technical terms, I have no idea what to do with myself now that the experiment is over.
This last run dragged on for four complete weeks. That's four weeks of constant work, 24/7, chasing electronics noise, pumping and venting and opening and closing valves, babysitting the data acquisition system, troubleshooting the flaky power supplies of the bending magnets and velocity filters, and relearning the multitude of various run/stop commands. In the last 48 hours, I've spent a mere 7 sleeping. Not my record (which, to date, has yet to be bested by anyone in the division - 41 straight hours of work), but still unpleasant.
But now, the experiment has ended, the power supplies are shut down and the data acquisition killed, the pumps off and the beam gone and the answers sitting in files saved to the hard drive, and the full wave of exhaustion I know is coming has still not reached its overbearing crest. So I sit here, complete with the knowledge that within these myriad data somewhere exists my dissertation, and I can't even move for the numbness of it all. Just like with physical shock, my body and my brain haven't yet communicated with one another that this really is it, finally, at long last, after years of waiting and working and hoping, this is emphatically it. I suppose I could start by eating lunch.

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