My comps is done.
I just finished writing version three—the final release, as it were—of my senior thesis, or “comps”, for Carleton. It’s an introduction to the Casimir effect, integrating aspects of quantum electrodynamics, thermodynamics and statistical mechanics, numerical modeling, material science, history of science, and a sampling of experimental literature. There is no original research here (save correcting a typo in the parallel-plates derivation which I suspect everybody knew about). It’s just an exercise in figuring things out, and explaining them to others.
I wrote the paper from books, papers, and discussions with my advisors and peers over the last six months. Last term, I also delivered a 70 minute general-audiences talk, which went pretty well. Since then I’ve been integrating feedback from faculty and peer advisors over two rounds of review. Since the beginning their feeling has been positive, but I have finally (I hope) addressed all remaining concerns with the paper. This version may be tagged “stable”.