Hi, like all the other introductions, I'm here to introduce myself on John Baez's suggestion after my account approval.
My name is Calvin Lau, and I'm currently a second year (or, soon-to-be) physics PhD student. I guess I'll tell you a bit about myself.
How I got here:
When I was in high school, I actually thought I'd be changing the world with a combination of journalism and historical writing, but after my first physics class, my plans were diverted this way. From what I knew from history and current events, I concluded that energy was going to be the big pivotal point from which I could find my most useful role, and from that, I decided to work toward a career of fusion energy research for all of its potential benefits. (Plus, what is cooler than trying to create an "artificial sun" as it were?)
I ended up at UCLA for my undergrad in physics, and getting some research experience in plasma and condensed matter physics along the way. After that, I spent most of my first year of grad school taking classes, applying for fellowships, and studying for the qualifying exams (which thankfully, I no longer have to worry about). Now, I'm at UC Irvine with the plasma theory group where I'm currently learning the skills of my trade (which mostly involve PIC simulations of low-frequency plasma waves) while lightly treading around with a project on drift waves.
I can't remember exactly what I was searching for, but I ended up on John's webpages probably looking at the question whose answer is 42 and other tilings stuff. From there, it was just a matter of curiosity and clicks before I got to the Azimuth Project. As you might be able to tell from how I wound up in physics, I am quite interested in saving the planet from its inhabitants as well so I've decided to join.
What I can contribute:
I've had a couple years' of experience using MatLab and IDL for analysis, but I've recently been introduced to (and subsequently a preacher of) Python. In addition, I also have to use Fortran frequently (although I've mostly been reading and modifying an existing code so I wouldn't classify this as a strength) and I will be learning CUDA within the next couple of weeks. While I hope to contribute to the coding aspects of the Azimuth Project, I will probably be less available this following year because most of my group's graduate students will be graduating within the year (with some newer students to be arriving) so I must squeeze as much knowledge out of them as possible before they are no longer available to me as resources. So, my intention is to keep myself updated on the coding projects for now, and to begin contributing when my own research involves more learning about the phenomena than learning about the tool.
Some other interests:
I also maintain a healthy interest in lots of other topics in addition to nuclear fusion: nonlinear and chaotic dynamics, fluid mechanics, self-organized criticality, programming, social physics (like psychohistory from the Asimovian universe), and so on.
So that pretty much sums up me in a nutshell. Thanks for reading, and I'm sure I'll be learning much from everyone here!