Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Politics and Youth

Today I finally figured out a way to get more sleep, by waking up later.It may not seem like a major adjustment , but when college starts at 9am ,you don't need to dress up fancy , it will only take about thirty minutes. So today I woke up at 8:30 , which felt great and made my way to class. Today we had two guest speakers,Adnan Selimović and is friend Will Darwall, that spoke on the topic of Youth and politics.

One main point that they hit on that I really took interest too was the fact that the things we are taught and raised to believe at and early age can actually lead to early misunderstandings which can eventually lead to long-term misconceptions.They really broke down the development of humans up until their teen years. It was very interesting but I thought 6 hours of it was quit enough.

After class I decided to hang out with a few friends I had met. We went to the gym and afterwards decided to go shopping for food at the local Grocery store. Since they had bought a fridge and microwave they stocked up on a lot of food, so they wouldn't have to wait in the long lines that form for breakfast. When we returned we had a RC meeting were we just pick the movie that we would want to watch that Friday. The last thing of the night was very interesting. I found something that both Kamron and I are interested in. We both like skateboarding , so we were watching tons of videos on the history of Love park in relations to skateboarding. We plan to actually visit the park on Sunday. The rest of the night was to be spent reading and getting prepared for class.

Space Brownies!!!

Physics today, was everything I ever expected, and then a lot more.  We started the day off with an overview of an oscilloscope. It is a very complex tool that can be used to measure many things, but today we used it to measure the speed of sound and the speed of electricity in a wire. The machine itself is very complex, with multiple buttons and switches that made getting it to work the way we wanted it a hassle. After the lab, we did go to lunch, but instead we went to back to class. We had a guest speaker today, Professor Kenneth Lande, who talked about how the US is cutting back on non-reusable energy sources and moving to greener forms of energy, such as wind turbines and solar panels. He took a more statistical and geographic approach in telling us how the changes were going to be made and why. One interesting remark he made was that if the US wanted to do a one eighty, and switch to only electrical energy, it would have to cover 10% of the map with solar panels, which is equal to 5 states. His presentation opened my eyes to the whole problem and gave the morning a perfect start to the perfect day.

The Space Suit
After lunch, we had another guest speaker, Dr. Don Thomas. He is a former astronaut who has been involved in four space missions. He started his presentation with a very motivational story of who he became an astronaut. NASA rejected him three times, yet he never gave up. Instead, he added to his background by doing the little things. I loved his story because he followed his dream and never gave up hope. After the heartwarming story, he talked about what it is like to be in space. His words were so descriptive that I could feel myself there. I noticed that he said that NASA has about four or five backups to nearly all the equipment that is essential to keep the mission going. It made me think about how Don Thomas did everything to make his dream come true. I believe that we can only move forward in life and science if everybody tried their hardest and never gave up. We had a short break while they set up for the next phase the presentation. Nearly all of the students stayed inside to speak with Don. He took out an astronaut suit and some space food.
Space Brownies!!!
After everyone got a chance to take a picture with Don, we moved into a discussion about surface tension. We followed the lecture with two experiments: one involving a paper clip floating on water and the other had pepper float on water, then they sank when we applied soap. When we finished, Don talked until 4:30PM about the future of space exploration. I loved his whole presentation, he spoke with so much passion and joy that it made you want to become an astronaut. Luckily for some students, they got the opportunity to try on the space suit.
Living The Dream
I had to rush to my dorm and change after class because a group of about 15 students was going to go play soccer. It was really fun getting to be in the sun, which today was not causing too much problems. Minutes into the game, I noticed how long it has been since a good workout. But I was not going to give up, especially since we had a whole lecture on not giving up.  I was extremely exhausted after two hours of playing, barely being able to walk. I met even more people today, especially since nearby joggers were joining our game throughout the game. If I remember correctly, two of them were on the Drexel soccer team.

Every day teaches new lessons. Today’s was not to give up. I wait for what tomorrow’s is going to be.
My Lab Partners And Don,(if you can't tell which one is Don because we all look really young, he is the one in the middle)

What Is Happiness?

Today's morning and afternoon lecture were a lot different than usual. Prof. Lamas and Michael did not teach the class, they passed the ropes on over to Adnan Selimovic and Will Darwall. Adnan was our guest speaker for the day along with his friend, Will. Adnan studied social and political thought in Canada, and is now doing research on youth and society. Between the morning and the afternoon classes, we covered many different controversial topics. Some of the many topics were youth and politics, social science, political education, cognitive dissonance, and the meaning of happiness. I am not going to go into details about the lecture, because my blog would be ridiculously long. However, I will talk about the topic that stood out to me, the meaning of happiness. The truth is there really is no set definition for what happiness is, because it's something different for everybody. Happiness is individualized. Happiness is self defining. You cannot analyze what happiness is. I found that part of our lecture really interesting. I'm not sure why that is, but it really stood out to me. Maybe because we all want to be happy, and we look for that happiness everywhere. That's the problem, we look for it everywhere except where it actually is, within ourselves. You are the only person who can make YOU happy.

At 5:45, Clara, Chloe, Alysa, and I made our way over to Houston Market for dinner. We thought it was early enough so that there wasn't going to be a ton of people in there, but oh boy, we were so wrong. After spending an eternity in line after line, we managed to find a table and enjoy our dinner. The rest of my evening consisted of spending a bit of time at the gym, and an RC meeting.

It was a nice day, but I'm ready for tomorrow to start!

Youth and Politics

Try taking yourself out of our contemporary society and imaging living a life without the social norms we are bombarded with.  For a moment there, there is a feeling of liberation and a sense of autonomy; although these are soon clouded over with our adapted sense of the reality we must face everyday.  How we personally identity ourselves seems like an individualized sense of being that grows from within, but it is all in context, as we are constantly affected by our family, society, and world events. I myself am a part of the Establishment and continue to accept living in our current society with all of its dispositions and injustice.  Despite my efforts to be myself and not let people pressure me into making certain decisions in life, I am still living under the 'voluntary servitude' Herbert Marcuse talks about, as the government ultimately controls the way in which I conduct my life.  Whether it be buying school supplies at Staples or logging onto Facebook, I am constantly contributing to the consumerist and social networking lifestyle that I want to alter.

While I am a fan of Facebook for providing such an amazing long-term connection with a large number of people I have met in my life, I do think that it is creating a generation of depersonalization.  In class today we were joined by Adnan Selimović and a friend of his named Will Darwall.  Originally from Yugoslavia, Adnan has studied Social and Political Thought and is currently doing research on youth empowerment and contemporary society.  Together we talked a lot about what social media has come to be and how social networking is alienating people from the processes we should naturally go through to connect to other people.  I think this is a serious problem because if my generation grows up lacking that basic human connection, humans will only grow further and further apart in years to come.

In addition to this topic we also discussed the veils that surround us from within family and society, how we identify with those around us, the stigma regarding youth, common assumptions, how we are made to be predictable, and the applicability of these concepts.  Adnan and Will were incredibly real and honest with us about their feelings and what they were trying to convey throughout the day.  I loved that they both stayed with us during the morning and afternoon session today; in fact, Prof. Lamas stayed outside of the room all day.  I really wish they were going to be with us for another day because I have become widely more aware of my true desires after just one day with them.  Tomorrow though we will be joined by members of the Theatre of the Oppressed, so that should be quite interesting as well!

A Day Of Wisdom

I have to say that today was definitely my favorite day in physics so far. Today we had two guest speakers, the first speaker was Professor Lande who actually teaches at UPenn. Professor Lande lectured on the use of wind to generate energy. His presentation stressed that we really do need to get involved and see what's going on with the world around us. After his presentation, we broke for lunch. The lunch area was crowded once again. I decided that today I'd be bold and try something new; I tried a burrito from the dining hall. Within the first couple of bites I was dissatisfied. I've found the same to be true with most food at the dining halls; it's good the first bite or so but after that it's not good enough to make you want to continue eating. I ate all of what I could of the massive burrito before heading back to class.

My lab group for week number two takes a picture with former astronaut, Donald Thomas.
I, like most of my classmates, were extremely excited for the second lecture because we were going to have the opportunity to talk to an actual astronaut. How cool is that? Don Thomas is a former astronaut who's participated in four space missions. It  wasn't an easy thing to do but by setting his mind to it he was able to eventually accomplish his childhood dream. Mr. Thomas informed us that he actually applied to NASA a total of three times before he got the job. Sure, he considered giving up and moving on but he realized that this was his dream and he had to go forth. Through the trials and tribulations he realized that if you wanted something, you had to go for it.

Not only was class entertaining but the message behind it all was really inspirational. I loved hearing about how even after not getting what he wanted, he continued to fight and eventually got it. Today I saw just how much perseverance and determination matters. Throughout the lecture, Mr. Thomas continued to reinforce the little piece of advice, to "Never give up."

Towards the end of class we got the chance to experiment and better understand surface tension, which is the force that acts in space. Two students even got to try on Mr. Thomas' old space suit.
Summer Discovery student, Madeline, tries on an old spacesuit.

I really, really enjoyed today's guest speakers. The lecture given by Don Thomas was just a reminder that I truly can accomplish anything I set my mind to.

Energy, Space, and Pick-Up Soccer

I enjoy every single day of class, but I must say, today was more exciting than most. We had two guest lecturers in physics, one of whom was an astronaut, and I had the first great workout I’ve had since leaving home. Not to mention, the fridge/microwave unit that my floor ordered finally arrived. I would never rent such a thing on my own, but $75 divided by 7 girls is not bad at all, especially considering the supposed vermin problem in the dorms.

The morning lecture was more hands-on than usual, because we were learning how to use oscilloscopes, commonly known as “those heart monitor things.” In actuality, oscilloscopes have a variety of uses, as they are very sensitive instruments that detect and record voltage. I am usually really terrible with technology, but after the morning workshop I feel fairly confident that I know how to record, manipulate, and interpret data on the digital oscilloscope. This is crucial for all of us because we’ll be using oscilloscopes to record and work on our data at Hershey Park this Friday.

A diagram of energy consumption in the U.S.
We returned to hear Professor Ken Lande, who lectured us on alternative energy and climate change. For me, climate change is one of those topics that I hear about in the news a lot and know that it’s a huge problem, but couldn’t really say anything specific about. Thanks to Professor Lande, I now know that for the United States to transition to using solely solar power, we would have to cover 1 state with solar panels. This doesn’t sound so bad, but for countries with population densities significantly higher than the U.S., there simply wouldn’t be enough real estate for solar energy to be a viable solution on its own. Professor Lande also spoke in detail about wind energy, as well as a more broad explanation about how heat disperses throughout Earth. I know that climate change is a huge issue that will have an enormous impact throughout my life, so it was great to hear a more comprehensive explanation of something that isn’t usually spoken about in this much detail.
Professor Ken Lande
In the afternoon we were fortunate enough to hear guest speaker Dr. Don Thomas, a former astronaut, physics major, and engineering PhD. He flew on four missions, three on the infamous Columbia shuttle. Dr. Thomas is quite an inspiring person–he knew he wanted to be an astronaut since age 6, and applied to become an astronaut 3 times before he was accepted by NASA. At no point in my life was I one of those kids who obsessed over space travel, but Dr. Thomas’s talk was so passionate that I almost found myself wanting to squeeze into a spacesuit and strap myself into a space shuttle.

There is zero gravity in space, so a bit of juice
just hangs in the air in a sphere

Space shuttle restroom facilities
Dr. Thomas talked about different aspects of space travel, both the scientific and the practical. In space, it takes an hour and a half to go through an entire day. However, NASA always keeps the astronauts on a strict 24-hour schedule, so they don’t know how the astronauts’ internal clocks would be impacted due to the severely shortened day. One of my favorite parts of the presentation, immature as this sounds, was when Dr. Thomas described the bathroom inside the space shuttle. Apparently, on one of his earlier missions, somebody didn’t follow the proper bathroom procedure and broke the bathroom on the first day. Luckily, the astronauts were able to fix it! I thought it was amazing that Dr. Thomas was able to take time out of his schedule to come and speak with us, and he gave a very captivating speech.
Madeline tries on a spacesuit
As we were walking back to the quad, David told me that he was planning to go to pick-up soccer at 5 PM. I instantly made him promise to take me, and I hurried up to my room and changed clothes in record time. We walked over in a big group to Penn Park and took advantage of the available turf field. Pick-up surpassed all my expectations–almost everyone there was really good at soccer and relatively supportive. There were two boys from Spain who were amazing, and a bunch of random guys there to work out ended up joining our game. Apparently, two of them were varsity players from Drexel! There were only two other girls, Kaley and Gabby, but they were both really nice. Both of them are in a culinary class at UPenn, which sounds fun and delicious. I hope to incorporate pick-up into my weekly routine, as it’s the best, most fun way to stay in shape. Clara and Christine are my witnesses; I didn’t shut up for a good two hours about how happy I was to play soccer again.


Today's class went a little differently than the others.  In the morning we learned how to use an oscilloscope, the same device that monitors heartbeats in hospital rooms.  In the lab, we used the oscilloscopes to measure the speed of sound and the speed of electricity.  Now that we are in the second week, I am getting better at understanding and executing the labs, which makes me enjoy them even more.  We completed the morning with a guest lecture by Professor Kenneth Lande.  He spoke to us about the current issues of climate change and alternative energy.  Instead of telling us the same old story, he taught the physics side of what is happening with the world and how we may be able to counteract it.  These issues hold great importance for me personally, so the morning was, as always, amazing.  

My lab group with Dr. Thomas
In the afternoon, we were joined by astronaut Dr. Don Thomas.  He spoke about his career living and working in space, as well as a little bit of the physics in zero gravity.  The most intense and inspiring message from his talk was to never give up on a dream, no matter what.  He tried four times, over the course of many years, to become a NASA astronaut, something he had wanted since Kindergarten.  Despite the obstacles, when he finally took off in to space, he experienced the most amazing feeling possible; he truly achieved his dreams.  He is living proof of the motto, "never give up," and the message really resonated with me.  

I also enjoyed his pictures of his space missions.  Every 90 minutes, he would go through a cycle of night and day. He said the only boring part of space orbiting the Earth is the twenty minutes that the shuttle is passing over the Pacific Ocean.  Seeing pictures of the Earth from space really put life in a different perspective.  We live on a beautiful and amazing planet.  

After a hands-on demonstration about surface tension, Dr. Thomas told us about the future of the space program.  In my life time, we may see humans on Mars or a space station on the moon.  I've said it before, but learning a subject that is constantly changing and growing intrigues me to no end.

Our class went all the way to 4:30, so I only had a little time to return to my dorm and regroup before dinner.  On my way over with Chloe, Alysa, and Ivette, we were stopped by a group of students who asked if we could answer some question for a documentary.  They asked for our definition of "Home" and how we would feel if we were forced to leave.  The questions made me a little homesick, so I called my mom between dinner and a run.  

Today was full of new knowledge and insights.  Day after day, this program continues to amaze me.  No matter how hard it is to get up in the morning, I go to sleep every night looking forward to the next day.