Monday, July 25, 2005

A parody of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

The Rime of the Ancient Researcher



How a grad student having passed the Comprehensive was driven by experimental difficulties to the desert Country of NoResults; and how from thence she made her course to the warm lattitude of the CuriousResults; and of the strange things that befell; and in what manner the Ancyent Researchere came back to her own Doctorate.

Part I

An ancient Researcher meeteth three Post Doctoral Fellows bidden to a conference banquet, and detaineth one

It is an ancient Researcher,
And she stoppeth one of three.
`By thy flowing robes and languorous eye,
Now wherefore stopp'st thou me?

The Banquet Hall's doors are opened wide,
And I am next of Prof. Lin;
The scholars are met, the feast is set:
May'st hear the merry din.'

She holds her with her smooth hand,
`There was a grad student.' quoth she.
`Hold off! unhand me, grey-haired loon!'
Eftsoons her hand dropt she.

The Banquet guest is spell-bound by the eye of the old scholarly woman, and constrained to hear her tale.

She holds her with her languorous eye-
The Banquet guest stood still,
And listens like a three years' child:
The Researcher hath her will.

The Banquet guest sat on a stone :
She cannot choose but hear;
And thus spoke on that ancient woman,
The liquid-eyed Researcher.

`The proposal was cheered, the tables cleared,
Merrily did we start
Down the library, down the hall,
Down the laboratory to plot.

The Researcher tells how the course work glided smoothly with assignments and term papers, till it reached the Comprehensive examination.

The Assignments came up upon the left,
Out of the course work came neat!
And it was brilliant, and on the right
Went down into the sheet.

Tougher and tougher every day,
Till over the exam in June-'
The Banquet-guest here beat her breast,
For she heard the loud bassoon.

The Banquet-guest heareth the proposal of toast: but the researcher continues her tale.

The Professor hath paced into the hall,
White as snow is he;
Nodding their heads before him goes
The scholars with goatee.

The Banquet-guest she beat her breast,
Yet she cannot choose but hear;
And thus spake on that ancient woman,
The liquid-eyed researcher.

The thesis work driven by an equipment problem to the land of NoResults.

`And now the EQUIPMENT came, and it
was tyrannous and strong:
It struck with its complex knobs,
And chased us further along.

With noisy data and disk overflow,
As who pursued with yell and blow
Still treads the shadow of his foe,
And forward bends his head,
Worthless plots my experiments bred,
While to NoResult land we fled.

And now there came both confusion and fear,
And it grew to a peak:
And, noise, signal-high, came floating by,
Without stop week after week.

The land of noise, and of terrible data where no meaningful signal was to be seen.

And through the analysis the noisy data
Did send a dismal sheen :
Nor fits for curves nor shapes of peaks we ken-
The noise was all between.

The noise was here, the noise was there,
The noise was all around :
It marred and masked, and roared and howled,
Like noises in a swound!

Till a great paper, called the CiteClassic, came through the snow-fog, and was received with great joy and hospitality.

At length did come a CiteClassic,
Through the fog it came:
As if it has been a ParadigmShift,
We hailed it in Science's name.

It solved the problems it never solved,
And innumerable the explanations it brew.
The noise did split with a thunder-fit:
The adviser steered us through!

And lo! the CiteClassic proveth a sign of good omen, and leadeth the research as it turned towards ResultLand through the confusing and noisy data.

And a good solid equation sprung up behind;
The CiteClassic did follow,
And every day, for explanation or analysis,
Came to the researcher's hollo!

In confusion or fluctuation, with data or noise,
It perched on table mine;
Whiles all the night, through inscrutable machine,
Came the curves divine.

The ancient Mariner inhospitably killeth the promising paper of good omen.

`Science save thee, ancient Researcher!
From the committee, that plague thee sick!-
Why look'st thou so?'-With my analysis
I shot the CiteClassic.


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