Today, as you may have guessed, was Mariko's birthday. It was a fun day, full of celebration, craziness, and, of course, learning. I've noticed throughout this course, that Professor Berner has a t-shirt for everyday of class, and it always relates to what we do that day. This morning, his shirt said, "it seemed like a good idea at the time." It was a little disconcerting...
We started the day with studying Non-Newtonian Fluids. If you have ever heard of oobleck, a mixture of cornstarch and water, it falls under this category. We studied it by running through 4 cement mixing troughs of the mixture, made using over 200 pounds of cornstarch. If you hit the oobleck hard and fast, it seems solid and you can keep moving. If you go slow and steady, you sink, and you can't move your foot at all. After we ran through, we got to play with it for a bit, testing its limits and getting very messy.
After we had all cleaned up, we went inside and watched BLAST!, a documentary about our next guest speaker, Mark Devlin, and his research project. BLAST stands for Balloon-borne Large-Apertire Submillimeter Telescope. It is a hummer-sized telescope attached to a balloon and launched from the Sweden and Antarctica. It takes data of the sub millimeter background, showing a map of the universe and its beginnings.
After the movie, Mark Devlin came to speak to us. He went in to the more technical side of the BLAST apparatus and talked about the future of the project. I loved seeing how many graduate students are involved in his work, and all the progress they've made since the movie was filmed in 2006.
After lunch, we broke back in to our interest groups, and my group finished taking our data and started planning our presentation. I got out just in time to meet with Mariko's roommate and decorate her dorm room to surprise her for her birthday. We put up streamers, balloons, and a banner, and I think she was very surprised and happy. We went out for Indian food (Cameron, Ivette, and Alysa's first time!) to celebrate. It was a great break from the dining hall, and a fun way to commemorate Mariko's 17th birthday.