Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Relative Cheesesteak

So many things happened to my brain today, I'm not quite sure what to think anymore.  Craig started off the day with a lesson on relativity.  He taught us about the different theories of relativity, the scientists who thought them up, and Einstein's process in developing E=mc^2.  He explained how time is relative. What? Yes. You would think that if lightning were to strike two poles at the exact same time, the poles would be struck simultaneously, right? Nope! It depends on where you are relative to the poles.  I know, it's super confusing, but that's what makes it so fun.  

After a nice (relating) clip from Animaniacs (my favorite cartoon from childhood), Bill gave a lesson and demo on magnetism.  Magnetism was my most challenging unit in high school physics, but I was happy to find myself understanding his talk.  It is always engaging to watch Bill bounce around the lecture hall and play with his physics toys.  For the last hour of the morning, we were joined by Penn faculty member James Aguirre.  He gave a talk on his work about the origins of the universe and far off galaxies  He works with different types of radio telescopes to gather data on the celestial bodies and galaxies outside of the Milky Way.  It struck me how small we are, here on Earth, in the grand scheme of things, and it surprised me how much we don't know about the universe.

After lunch and another one of our frequent pit stops at Insomnia Cookies, we broke up into our Interest Groups again.   My group spent the afternoon gathering data from the single photon detector.  We changed the viewing range of the detector and used an electronic counter to record the number of photons to hit the detector.  At first, our data looked like a jumbled mess.  Everyone seemed to see a different picture in the dots- one saw a rooster, another a face, I just saw a lot of dots. But as we took more data in smaller increments and we connected the dots, our graph turned in to a wave. Not only was this very exciting, it showed photons, light particles, acting as waves.

On my way home from class, I stopped at a super secret location to by a present for Mariko's birthday on Thursday and mailed a letter to my friend Molly at Brown.  I got back with a little time to regroup before meeting at 5:30 to go "Philly Cheesesteakin." I signed up for this activity last week, and I've been looking forward to it for quite some time.  We got a little lost on the way there, but we finally arrived between Pat's and Geno's, two famous cheesesteak places in South Philly.  I chose to eat at Geno's, which my dad later confirmed was the right choice, and I ordered my cheesesteak with provolone and onions.  It was incredibly delicious and I was happy to finally have the true Philadelphia experience.
Oh Sandwich... how I miss you

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