New Year Update

This post will consist of an update and goals for the 2015 year.

Update: Science engagement has not progressed. One month ago, I bought a book called “Sustainable Materials with Both Eyes Open” by Julian M Allwood and Jonathan M Cullen. I hadn’t the chance to read it yet. On the other hand, I have read two other books instead: Nonzero by Robert Wright and Building Social Business by Muhammad Yunus. The latter book was recommended to me by a friend I truly respect and admire (Master Aiswarya).

Nonzero by Robert Wright is arguably the best book I have read. The book is divided into three parts. It starts out with anthropology, progresses to evolutionary biology, and concludes with theology. From start to finish, I was fascinated. Wright provides piles of evidence to back his main thesis that human destiny is shaped by nonzero sum interactions. The evidence, however, was the difficult part of the book. I had a hard time fully absorbing the anthropology because it was overwhelming in quantity. More the reason to read the book again. I truly recommend this book to anyone curious about the world, society, and the future.

Building Social Business by Muhammad Yunus was not a book I was initially keen on reading. At the time, two weeks ago, I had two books on my plate: How to Read a Book by Mortimer J. Adler and On Writing Well by William Zinsser. When I opened the cover, however, I immediately dropped everything I had to do and started reading. In turned out that this book was writing on an idea that I dismissed months ago. I thought the concept of social business was impossible, or rather why would anyone fund it. This book dispelled any doubts, and fortified me with sagacity. Yunus is a brilliant philanthropist. At times throughout the book, I felt an almost too confident of a tone coming from Yunus. At the end, however, those negative tones were gone. This book was great for me because the ideas of nonprofit, serving humanity, and technology are constantly in my head. The past few weeks, I have been volunteering at a nonprofit called Benetech. I also have a great friend who recently got a marketing-related position at a small nonprofit (EBZEF). Talking to her about her nonprofit gig and experiencing the environment of a nonprofit, I was able to compare and contrast the concept of a nonprofit with Yunus’ idea of a social business. I am more inspired than ever to study science, and to connect that with serving humanity.

Goals: Goals need to be realistic. I have read that, and from past experience, believe that.

  1. Practice Decisiveness From everyday life to big decisions. Being decisive is an important trait. A problem that I have is putting off making decisions until later. This wastes time because decisions have to be made sooner or later.

  2. Do more Doing I picked up this kernel of nourishment while reading Yunus’ book. Inherent in the process of taking action is the R&D phase. Because by taking action and making mistakes, you find out what works and what doesn’t. Thus, I will actively find opportunities for doing. These opportunities entail finding REU’s, scholarships, internships, research, reading books, and side projects.

  3. Be Comfortable with being Uncomfortable A problem with me is that I get impatient easily while learning. We learn through a process called chunking, meaning you absorb one segment of information yet can’t instantaneously connect that with the larger picture. Only after learning a majority of the chunks can you start connecting them to form a coherent idea. I experienced this dissatisfaction while learning Physics. But that is how you learn. And although it gets uncomfortable, you have to learn to be comfortable with discomfort. Furthermore, at the end of the year, I hope to find a system that best utilizes my focus peaks.

Connection to Science: Why did I decide to post all of this? I believe reading Nonzero and Building Social Business shape the science I want to do. Combining engineering with humanity will be an exciting venture I hope to do all my life. My plan is to still stay on track for the transfer program to Columbia University for Materials Science Engineering. This path will not be easy, but I won’t give up. The world is too exciting to fall to momentary desires of procrastination and laziness. And I have to remember that to strive forward.