I am currently trying to start a blogging platform for myself, as well as any other like-minded people, to explore what interests us, with the primary focus on the broad categories of Science, Art, Faith and Life. Another goal is to try to bridge the gap that is always widening between the many disparate aspects of life in the modern professional and academic worlds. There will be an emphasis on reaching out, giving back, and extending a warm welcome to both new and old communities, and particularly trying to reconnect and invest back in the communities that shape and mold us, who are too often relegated to bystander status.
“Beyond The Standard” is really just a bad physics pun, based off of the ever-elusive search for “Beyond the Standard Model” physics that so many scientists have dedicated their lives to. It is also a smaller jab back at the new “Far Beyond” advertising campaign for Stony Brook University. And it sort of just refers to me always wanting to take casual conversations to the next level even if the audience isn’t interested.
I was driven to start this blogging/community/journalism website for a number of personal reasons in addition to the face-value pitch given above. Over the last two years I have really missed getting to write for The Reflector and The Streetcar, and I’ve missed even more the level of community I shared with my fellow Mississippians and Christians. For the first three semesters of graduate school it wasn’t so bad, but mainly just because I was too overwhelmed with the large workload I gave myself. Over the last few months I have had more free time, which has led me to recognize boredom and lack of fulfillment that comes with just sitting around and keeping hyper focused on just one or two things and consequently getting burned out and hardly enjoying the learning I get paid to do.
The recent social and political upheaval surrounding the presidential election and all that came with it just made things worse. I have only recently come to see the grey areas in between the black and white bifurcations put in place by the two parties, and hearing all the rhetoric and seeing the system go into full swing for the first time as an active observer was very disorienting. I have only recently found myself surrounded by an extremely diverse group of friends, many of whom are directly or indirectly the targets of policies or rhetoric coming from the most powerful people in the world.
Between the pressures of constant learning and work, and watching political disasters unfold before my eyes, I have grown increasingly frustrated and unmotivated. To top things off, last month I was notified that my broader impact on the wider community as a scientist was not well defined or ambitious enough to warrant receiving a NSF graduate student fellowship. This in itself is not terribly surprising, as the acceptance rate is pretty low for such things, but it caused me to reevaluate the way I, as a scientist, christian and regular person, interact with everyone around me. I have gotten too cut off from the people who helped form me and I need to spend longer and more effort to parse through all kinds of new ideas that are confronting me from all sides, broadly painted as falling into science, art, faith and life.
I am doing some things to remedy my stagnation, such as beginning the process of starting a Physics Graduate Student Association at Stony Brook, and beginning to find the time and motivation to visit friends and interesting events in Manhattan on a regular basis. However, I feel that sharing these developments, as well as other observations and conversations in the aforementioned categories, will really maximize my impact and engagement, both with my own interests, and hopefully with those of the community as well. I don’t really know what I am doing right now, everything is very tentative and stream of consciousness, but I plan to be able to keep this going for quite some time, even if there is not much activity.
I hope that this platform can help to fill the need for and help to facilitate further explorations of science, and art, as well as faith and life. I want this be a diverse and aware space with a commitment to leaving dogmatic thought behind, so all feedback is welcome. The primary goal of this activity on my end is to give myself a means and a specific reason to further myself intellectually and in a public fashion, to get away from my cubical and into the surrounding world to experience and share what it has to offer, and to surround myself with people who challenge me.
To that end I have created this website for serving the writing and sharing inclinations, and I have begun visiting NYC regularly, mainly just day trips on Sundays to visit churches and other special events and museums there, as well as friends and visitors. I plan to write about these regular trips as a staple of this project, in addition to whatever other writings naturally pop up. If you want to participate, please contact me about ways to help me out, and if you feel inclined to help facilitate these activities financially please consider visiting my Patreon page where you can see what there is to do there.