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September 25, 2005
Report From What I Think is the Frontier
It's been a while since I spoke about the run of experiments that I've been doing. Things are going very well, although not quickly. The combination that seemed to work for me back in June (see the 6/23 post here) has repeated cleanly several times now, with new control experiments and fresh solutions of everything. And since then, I've found a couple of others that also seem to give the effect I'm after and they hold up, too. I'm having to make the mental adjustment of realizing that this stuff is real and reproducible.
I mentioned that I was going to present my results inside my company. That went fine, I think, with about the same number of people leaving the room thinking that I was nuts as came in. Mind you, there was some turnover in the rosters of people holding each opinion. But I've been given a bit of room to work on what's now generally known as Derek's Crazy Idea. I have a two-week experiment going on to get some kinetic data on things - how quickly does this stuff come on, how high can it go, when does it start to level off, and so on. And I'm getting geared up for an extension to a completely different system, one that's much less of a test bed and much more of a real-world application.
That makes me rather nervous, because there's plenty of twangy tightrope stretched between those two platforms. My preparations include gearing up for a huge range of reaction conditions, because what my work thus far has shown is that I don't have a clue - yet, anyway - about what's going to work and what isn't. When I think about how close I came in the first system to never seeing anything at all, it makes me want to sit down for a while. How many other interesting things have I missed in my research career, slipping past me by only a couple of millimeters and still leaving no trace?
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