Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Today I woke up and got dressed and headed down the stairs. One of my friends asked me, "do you know what happened". I said no, and he started to explain how a fellow student of our was intoxicated last night and was throwing up all over the place. The RC's didn't know what was wrong with her , so they escorted her to the hospital were they later learned the truth. Many wondered what happened from there. The first day we got here ,we had an information session were they explicitly explained that if caught with alcohol or illegal substances, there would be no second chances,  you would be sent home immediately. So this is exactly what happened.When you think about the severity of the situation , you come to see that this is as severe as it could possibly get. First off ,this program cost roughly 10,000 dollars , which went out the window ,and second that will stay on her record for future references.

Today's class we had a guess lecturer who talked on the subject of feminism. We listened to a James brown song called "Its A Mans World" , and than listened to "We Run The World" by Beyonce. We broke the songs up and actually talked about the messages that were being portrayed . The first song was about all of the great invention's that man has made , but it also states that none of this would be , if there were no women.The second song talked a little more about how women rule the world.Through controlling men sexually , Beyonce states that they can have power to run the world.Therefore lulling young women into a false sense of achievement, instead of them actually performing the work to" run the world.50% of  the U.S population are women , but they are known as a minority due to their position relative to men, the "dominant group". Also women at all age levels and all education levels american women are paid only 78%of what a man is paid for doing the same work, which is a huge improvement from 1980 when it was only 60%.

I learned a lot today and when class was over  I hung out with a few friends and later went to dinner at Houston dining market.Later that night we had a RC meeting and  what was stated previously about the young lady being sent home , reinforcing the rules and the consequences if they were not followed. In other news , I will be attending the Dark night,  on friday night and I am really excited , because this is supposed to be a really good movie. We bought out a whole theater room just for the Summer discovery. Cant wait!

Who Runs the World?

When the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was created in 1948, women were pressing for the specific acknowledgement of their own rights within that document.  These pleads were never distinguished, but rather generalized, and thus the struggle for women’s rights persisted over the next four decades.  While the gender gaps have narrowed over the last century, domestic and public abuse continues to affect women on a daily basis; not to mention the issue of differences in pay between female employees and their male counterparts.  Throughout history, women have been portrayed as subordinate to men in all areas of society and in every culture.  How come this ideology has persisted over so many years and among all people throughout the world?  What can women do to achieve equality?  Can this oppression be eliminated or is it inevitable that it will continue on forever?  These are the kinds of the questions that arose today during our discussion with guest speaker Shannon Lundeen who was with us through the morning and afternoon sessions of class.
We began class by listening to James Brown’s, This is a Man’s World, followed by Beyonce’s Run the World.  These two songs, along with the music video that came with Run the World, brought up mixed feelings about how women are portrayed in today’s society as well as how they act against the injustices they face.  In the end though, one student in class posed the question of whether or not men will always have dominance if women are always the ones trying to take their power.  I think this is a very interesting question, because as of now I cannot picture women truly obtaining power in that sense.  There has been so much oppression in the lives of women throughout history, that they have been called a minority in this country, although they make up 54% of the United States alone.  To top that off, the injustices women face are considered as a whole a “special case” meaning that it is not of primary concern for the human race and therefore does not need to be immediately addressed.  As one young woman stated in a YouTube video that responded to Run the World, it is ridiculous to call the inequality women are subject to a special interest seeing that they occupy almost half of the world’s human population! 
After taking this discussion further, we talked about human rights in general and how we have this socialized gender hierarchy within our societies.  We also touched on the topic of power and domination throughout different areas of the world, which led us into socialism vs. capitalism, and then the documentary called Working Women of the World.
This film portrayed factory workers of the jeans company Levi’s who struggled to have their basic human rights respected.  From Belgium, France, and Turkey, on into Indonesia and the Philippines, female factory workers have been exploited by this company left and right.  In the European Levi factories, mainly Belgium and France, women found themselves out of jobs that they had worked hard at for the last 28 years because the company was outsourcing the labor.  Even though the conditions in these factories were absolutely exhausting and dangerous, these women fought until the very end to try and prevent their only source of income from being shipped across the sea.  They gathered in large groups to protest the move and even proposed a 10% cut from their wages in hopes that the company would stay; but in the end, the company’s interests were more important than the lives of the 504 women working in the French facility.  
As a result of this outsourcing of jobs, women in Indonesia now spend 80 hours a week putting together jeans for Levi; and you know what the worst part is?  They are being exploited even worse than those women in France or Belgium, receiving wages so low that they work to pay for just a tad more than needed for basic living necessities.  The interviewer asked a woman what she thought of her life, and immediately we could see that she didn’t know exactly how to respond to that question.  After a look of surprise and confusion, she responded by saying that she lives a normal life, but that it is not a decent one.  This is such a significant statement to me because although she is not sure how to compare the conditions she lives and works under to those of the outside world, she knows that her life is not fully respected and that it could be significantly better than it now is.  It is that basic instinct to survive that allows for such mistreatment to occur and it is unbelievably cruel to intentionally disregard the rights of those people who have no other means of survival.  This exploitation became even more extreme in the Philippines, where thousands of more workers are subject to this injustice.  What is extremely troubling is that this pattern continues to spiral down as companies like Levi’s search for more desolate places in the world where they can drop the cost of labor to more extreme lows.  I can only see this system turning into another one of the many covered up slave trades of our time, and that is such a pattern that greatly hinders the constant and continuous fight for equality in our world. 

Cosmic Rays From Outer Space!!!

Today, I woke up, more ready than ever for physics, ready for the cloud chamber. But the cloud chamber would have to wait until after lunch. Our morning was packed with two lectures and a guest presentation. I learned so much in just three hours, which makes me wonder, is there a limit to how much a can learn in just three hours.

Craig started the first lecture on relativity. Relativity is how we can view one event from based on how it acts in comparison with an object.  He started off with the basic about how motion is relative, such as we are moving relative to the sun, but still relative to the earth. But there is one exception to the rule of relativity: light. No matter what the situation is, light’s speed is constant. This went into play that time is always relative, because as you approach light speed, time goes slower and slower, yet it is impossible for an object to reach light speed. As an object gains speed, it’s length decreases because its front end gains mass, while the back end decreases in mass, thus giving the back end a chance to catch up. The object will never be able to reach light speed because at a speed, it will be moving so fast that it will turn into energy. Knowing this, I look back at Hollywood writers disappointed. They gave me dreams of being able to reach light speed, which I now know is impossible.
After Craig’s interesting lecture on relativity, Bill went on to talk about magnets. I thought it was his favorite lecture because he played with a room filled with different types of gadgets and gizmos that all related back to magnetism, or how he would have named it: Electrodynamics. From this lecture, we moved to Dr. James Aguirre’s presentation on radio waves and how they have helped us understand the universe. I have always had a small alien fanatic side in me, and today it grew a lot more. Looking at how small we are, one planet in the whole universe and to be the only one with life, made me wonder that there is huge possibility for life changing things to be discovered in space…ALIENS! Even though he didn’t mention this, I regret not asking him if he believes that there is life outside of Earth.
After lunch, we moved into our interest groups. Instead of going head on to with the whole experiment, the copper wire, and the radioactive source, we tried to see if we could actual get the cloud chamber to work. We started off by cooling the chamber using dry ice and alcohol. Then we had to saturate the felt inside the chamber, so that we could get the cloud. The process sounds easy, but it is much more difficult than it sounds. The hardest part was to cool the chamber to the temperature of dry ice, constantly we had to add more, but not too much because we feared it would overflow. Then after an hour and half of adding and adding dry ice, we finally get tracks. Since we weren’t using a radioactive source, the tracks were made from particles falling from space, such as cosmic rays. Bill got really excited because we got it working on the first day, last year they didn’t. Since we had time left, he brought out some radioactive sources and placed them on top of the glass. It was amazing seeing tracks form all the sudden as he place the source. I am excited for tomorrow because not only will the source be inside the chamber, but we will also be controlling the electrons that shoot out, causing the tracks.

Everything Is Relative

Today’s morning lecture began with a presentation by Craig about special relativity. The general concept of relativity seems simple enough–the way that an event appears depends on where the viewer stands relative to the event–but it became suddenly mind-blowing when Craig revealed that time is in fact relative. Einstein proved that because the speed of light is always constant, sometimes one second is longer than another second. Apparently, it’s also impossible to travel at the speed of light. I wouldn’t have thought of this, but Einstein was obviously a much more creative kid than I was, and as a child he wondered what he would see if he was riding on a light wave. We now know that that can’t happen.

As an object gains speed it becomes more massive on the forward end and thus slows down enough so that the back end of the object starts to catch up, effectively shortening the object. Eventually, there is an equilibrium point, which depends on the mass of the object, where an object is moving so fast that it has too much energy for it to maintain its integrity as that object, so it begins to lose mass. I believe the lesson here is don’t break the speed limit, or you just might self-destruct.

After Craig’s talk, Bill gave a series of demonstrations about the basic principles of magnetism. I recognized most of the demonstrations from my high school physics course, although Bill’s demos were fancier and I felt as though I understood everything much better the second time around. Since Bill is in charge of the demonstration lab, it’s always a lot of fun to see what is on the magic cart for each lecture.

Bill shows how a horseshoe magnet can move a metal rod without touching it
In addition to the relativity and magnetism lesson, we were graced with another guest speaker, Dr. James Aguirre. Dr. Aguirre also happens to be the leader of my interest group, and this morning he talked about his work as a faculty member at UPenn. He uses radio waves to study the origins of the universe, and gave us a brief history of the universe starting back at the Big Bang. He told us about an exciting project he’s working on called PAPER, which is building large radio telescopes to be placed in South Africa. These telescopes will be used to collect data about far away galaxies that aren’t easily detected with optic telescopes due to interference from the atmosphere. My interest group is building a radio telescope, so it was great to hear more about the applications of these devices.

In the afternoon we worked on potential power sources for our telescope. Ethan and I soldered exposed wire ends to a coaxial cable connector to create four different plugs for our device. Although I took two years of woodshop in middle school, I’ve never worked with solder before and it was a fun new experience, especially since neither of us got burned. Tomorrow we’ll try to hook everything up to the telescope and see how well it works. We’re supposed to have another guest speaker in the morning, and I’m looking forward to meeting yet another person who has chosen to pursue applications of physics as his life’s work.

James Brown Vs. Beyonce

Prof. Lamas handed the class over to Prof. Shannon Lundeen for today and tomorrow. She started the class with two videos. The first video was James Brown's "A Man's World". The class then shared their thoughts on the message of the song. We said that it could mean that men are responsible for everything we have, they are the producers of the world. They have all of these accomplishments, yet without a woman in their lives, none of it matters. Some people said the women were just needed to make more men, while others said they were there to fill a void in men's lives. The second video we watched was Beyonce's "Girls Run the World". Somebody said this was a really assertive approach to women empowerment. Another comment was that most women who have power in music videos usually attain it sexually. It was portraying the idea that women really only have power in the bedroom, outside of the bedroom the power belongs to the man. The remainder of the class time was used to pick apart the differences between sex and gender.

For lunch, Chloe and I grabbed our food and came back to my dorm. After about an hour and a half of laying on my bed and talking, we decided it was time to head to class. For this portion of the class we talked mostly about human rights. The subordinate topics were the benefits of rights, when rights are inadequate for justice, and the concepts utilized in expressing competing rights claims and frameworks for justice. We ended the class with a documentary about how the workers of the Levi's Jeans Co. are being exploited all over the world, and it examined what human rights the workers have and how they used them to their advantage.

Chloe and I ate dinner at Houston Market, and then returned to my room. We read the assigned readings for tomorrow's class, and we discussed them a bit. The rest of the evening was spent enjoying the free time I had. Today is Tuesday so that means RC meetings! We talked about the usual stuff, like when is floor and room time. Caroline, my RC, informed us that they were able to get movie tickets to "The Dark Knight"! I'm so excited to see this movie!

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

A Day For Steakin'

Up until 5:00 PM my day progressed as it normally would. Physics class was spent lecturing on a new subject then we had a cosmologist come in and give a lecture. I found this lecture to be very interesting and after this presentation and the lecture from the astronaut, I may look into studying astronomy. I really like how this physics class has encouraged me to think about pursuing other fields. Prior to this class I had never even thought about studying planets and stars. Physics is a gateway to many other fields as physics is in everything. 

After lunch we went into our special interest groups. Although my oobleck group is plenty of fun, I enjoyed peeking in on the group that was making clouds with dry ice and alcohol. Today we played with ratios a little bit more. We are still trying to find the right ratios to form the perfect oobleck. Our oobleck group of eight broke into two smaller groups of four. My group worked with a 1:1 ratio. Though it seemed more watery than the other group's, we are convinced that we have found the right ratio. 
My wonderful oobleck team!
After mixing up a large batch of oobleck we dropped balls of different weights and materials from different heights into the oobleck to see what would happen. We are learning to use video analysis to help us form a more firm hypothesis. We tried to synchronize the graph from the force sensor with the video clips we gathered. We haven't quite figured it out yet, but we still have the rest of the week. When we concluded our tests we cleaned up and were free to go. 

I went back to my dorm to investigate the internet problem and prepare for "Philly Cheesesteakin'". At first I was a little hesitant to go on the trip, but I am so glad I went. How could I go to Philly and not get a cheesesteak?! When we arrived in South Philly we were given two options for food. There was Geno's and there was Pat's, both places looked delicious. Clara, her roommate Temi, and I chose to eat at Geno's because there wasn't a line. We went through what reminded me of a lunch line at school. First you order your cheesesteak at the first window and pay. Then you proceed to the second window where you order your drink and fries if you want them. The cheesesteak was phenomenal! The simplicity of just steak, American cheese, and onions on a roll was amazing. I may have to go on another cheesesteak run before I leave Philly! 

We all headed back to campus full and satisfied. We still had a few hours before our mandatory floor meeting so I went to the gym with hopes of burning off some of the calories I consumed from the sandwich. I made it back to campus with plenty of time to spare so I went to my room and sat down for a few minutes. In the meeting we handled our regular duties which just consists of choosing our movie for Friday night. Not to my surprise, almost everyone chose to go see the new Batman movie. 

Tomorrow is another day of oobleck-y goodness. Sweet dreams!