A Scientist Is A Modern Monk

Historically, monasteries were the stronghold of knowledge.
Monks would study and copy the books and ponder the meaning behind them.
It was often, but not always purely theological.
Gregor Mendele, for example, was a monk and discovered inheritance laws far ahead of his time.

Modern scientists, I think, should strive for much of the same virtues monasteries cultivated in their inhabitants.
I am not talking about celibacy or worship of God, obviously.
These were the rudiments of the time, although there is time and place for both in the modern world.

Consider these.
Literacy, far exceeding that of an average contemporary, regardless of the field.
Strong grasp of philosophy, its fundamentals and connection to science.
Physical tenacity, while relatively rare in western civilization, was almost mandatory in the east.
The ability to thrive in quiet and solitude, working for a long time without being distracted.

It seems to be a compelling set of virtues, however, none of them seem to be quite related to religion.
Why then would I make the case about monks specifically?
Firstly because science, whether we like it or not, grew out of religion and inherited many of its structural features.
Secondly, because the pitfalls and problems in both religion and academia are similar.

Letting government’s money in slaves the organization to government’s needs, whether it be a sanctification of the king’s power or the development of nuclear weapons.
Focusing on money as the goal leads to printing meaningless publications and selling indulgencies.
Bad selection procedures for newcomers corrupt the structure, destroys its reputation and ultimately compromises the fundamental idea it rests upon.

I am mostly putting this out there for the sake of discussion and as an interesting allegory that came to my mind. Maybe it will trigger some dialogue and bring new insight.


Sounds good. I am extremely ectomorphic and mostly try to keep my BMI up and build some muscle and fat. Because by default I quickly lose both.

The question was asked at that time because I discovered that there is a large cohort of people who do not cook for themselves at all and only eat food they buy. It is a viable strategy here in Moscow as ready-made food is widely available, and not even that expensive. I’m wondering if it’s prominent in other places as well.


I don’t think any comedian, no matter how high, could come up with the things that happen here occasionally. I’m looking for PhD opportunities now and aim to have a way to get the rest of the family out, if need be. Also, hopefully getting married amidst this mess in a few months.

How does it feel to be here? On good days it’s mostly anxiety, on bad days – despair. However, since avoidance is the primary strategy for both people and the governmental structures in authoritarian regimes, many people simply ignore the situation in their day-to-day life. I do this sometimes too, because it is impossible to keep this horrid mess in the head at all times while taking care of the family and working. One has to look for balance between being aware but useless and being useful and caring for their loved ones, but ignorant at times.


I'm sorry you had to go through this. And there is a possibility I end up in a similar situation, but hey, at least I got some skills and experience out of it.


This is a very cool recommendation on IEEE, thank you very much!

My position may feel awkward at times, but it was formed by very particular circumstances and it is still a work in progress. Do you mind sharing what in particular do you find difficult to emphasize with?

I don’t even know if my posts make sense for readers, honestly. My English is a bit rusty and there is no feedback most of the time as I write into the void. Do you people read me? Are the texts clear? Or is it an indistinguishable mess of words?

Here is what I’ve been up to. First and foremost, new lab. Now my main work is to use neural networks to predict crystal stability. It took me a while to write and train the model for this, about a year along with studying and an internship. However, now that it’s mostly ready, I have to do an experiment.

It is not strictly necessary, but my department requires master’s dissertation to contain some experiments. I had to make one for bachelor diploma and now the history repeats itself. However, now I am in a different lab, with far better apparatus and work ethics. The experiments are mostly made with solid-state synthesis, which makes thing way easier (weigh – press – anneal – analyze – repeat).

Apart from this and an ungodly amount of papers I needed to study in the field and crippling burnout from personal problems, the last year went well. Now I have a week to finish most of the experiment and prepare something like the dissertation proposal. It is a discriminatory practice my department uses to make some students’ life more difficult. In my case it’s the theoretical nature of my work that is causing problems.

But I’ll power through this eventually.

Umberto Eco uses 50% less fuel and 30% less packaging than regular Umberto

I had a discussion with a friend today and now I’m curious: do you people cook for yourself? Does someone cook for you? Do you buy food? What do you typically cook?

I cook most of my food when I live alone and it’s usually simple and healthy “meat+vegetables/pasta/rice” dishes, salads, eggs in all varieties and a sandwich here and there.

No poll attached, I’m interested mostly in long and unnecessarily sophisticated answers. Let the 65k character limit be useful.

Today I presented my new work for the first time. It was surprisingly easy to talk about, even though my understanding of the subject matter is not perfect.

The topic is “predicting stability of solid crystals using graph neural networks”. Far more exciting than any thermodynamics I used to do.

Today a realization struck me. A simple one, but I feel like sharing it for some reason. Envy is horrible and it is not talked about for the most part. It poisons people and hurts their relationships, while the solution is relatively simple. To not be envious of someone, it is necessary to learn to be happy for their accomplishments. It mostly works for close people, but being envious towards close people is most destructive as well.

This ability to feel joy is not “free”, it has to be learned and cultivated either in the family during adolescence or consciously later in life. And I am infinitely grateful to my family and friends who seem to have taught me that over the years.

This sounds childish now that I read it, but hey, why not. Maybe it will offset some of that gloominess of mine.

Oh well, I can’t not write, can I. Here goes 2022 in review. Hectic and unpolished because I’m lazy and excited for the day ahead and the work I need to do.

It was bloody horrible. My country started a war with a neighbor, in some sense a relative, and it keeps going. There was mobilization. Some of my close friends had to flee, but I can stay with my family. For how long? That I can’t know for sure. There are other problems in my life that weren’t solved this year and that will probably persist for a few more years.

It was magnificent. I finished bachelor degree, managed to get into masters program, worked in an office through Summer. It’s not a good lifestyle for me but the experience was well worth it. New people entered my life, some of them became friends. I arranged more parties and meetups in one year than I ever had before and probably more than I ever will. That was an overkill. I am also in a better shape that ever was and probably healthier than ever will be.

All in all, it was productive and positively horrifying. The contrast between the dreadful news and the good days spices things up, for sure. This is how our minds work.


It kinda is. The first 10-15 tweets contain real facts, I checked/heard from reliable sources most of them. Gang wars and the rest of the thread look questionable, I don’t think any prognosis stands a chance these days, good or bad one. We (as we-the-country) are, indeed, quite fucked, but underestimating the societal inertia is quite short-sighted.

Today I heard a saying that goes among Russian journalists: we should not humiliate ourselves with hope. Oddly inspiring, albeit gloomy.

So there is a course with no textbook or any information on it other than lecture slides. Thankfully, they are quite extensive and have a text search within pdf files. I quickly dropped a “pdfunite *.pdf merged.pdf” in the terminal and saw that the output has exactly 1769 slides in it, weighing in at almost 2 Gb. Ctrl+f takes a few seconds to parse this, even with zathura. I hope this is the last time I face such monstrosity.


Thanks! Honestly, way too many things turned into an utter shitshow so I just decided to ditch nearly everything and act more or less on a whim. Whatever happens – happens. I don’t really read news, barely check my mail and going to visit at least two parties before the new year hits. And throw one on the 31st-1st, because I can. Maybe I’ll get slightly more serious afterwards. Maybe not…

In reply to @FailForward ‘s Christmas post.

New Year mood: notes, essays due on a weekend, exams in two weeks and everyone’s ass is on fire these days. Happy New Year, wish everyone to survive ‘till the next one…

(okay, okay, it’s not that bad, I’ll survive, but no cookies for me this time around)

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