Thursday, July 19, 2012

Happy Birthday Mariko!

This morning I struggled to get out of bed. For some reason , I can never seem to go to bed early than 1 in the morning. No matter how hard I try , it never happens. This means approximately 6 hours of sleep , butI somehow find the extra energy I need to get through the day. After doing my early morning rituals , I headed to the cafeteria to get breakfast and then head to class.

Today Mr. Nairn was giving the class a lecture about power, politics and love. The conversations were very interesting , but so much stuff was covered , there could have been a whole class on that topic alone. After a couple breaks , we were set free for lunch were I headed to Houston dinning hall and was surprised to see know body in line for lunch. I ended up getting a toasted turkey sandwich , which I usually never have the patience to wait in line and get.

After lunch we headed to another meeting were we had a guest speaker . He had many interesting opinions, but overall I was engaged by the whole conversation.After class, I headed to Mariko's room to surprise her and say happy birthday. I thought we were going to go out to dinner tonight with Mr Lawrence , but it was rescheduled to saturday night. We all, with the exception of David ,ended up going out to dinner at a Indian restaurant called Tandoor .I was somewhat skeptical at the beginning of this new found experience, but as I tried more and more things I was surprised at how good it all was. My favorite item of the night would have to be Naan , which is very similar to a tortilla. Today was a good day and I hope that Mariko had a wonderful Birthday.

Happy Birthday Mariko!

My day started off just like any other day, a quick trip to the gym and breakfast with Chloe. Today's morning class was taught by Michael. The whole three hours were devoted to going over about sixty six hours! There was so much information to process all at once that I thought my brain was going to explode! It was all incredibly interesting, but I was just so overwhelmed. The afternoon class was  handed over to TJ, our guest speaker for the day. TJ talked to us about sex workers in India.

Today is indeed Mariko's birthday, so we had to celebrate! We all, with the exception of David, went out for dinner at Tandoor India. I had never tried Indian food before today, and I just don't know how I could have gone sixteen years without it. The food was phenomenal, but most importantly, the company was what made dinner so great. After dinner we all came back to my room for a girls' movie night. A birthday is not complete without some birthday cake! So we ate cake and finished watching a movie in my room. Before we knew it my RC was at my door because it was floor time, so we all said our goodnights.

I hope Mariko enjoyed her birthday. I can imagine it might be a bit sad to spend your birthday without your family, but we really tried to make it special. I think she'll be going to sleep happy tonight, but she won't be the only one. Prof. Lamas thought we've had a rough week because so much information was given to us in such little time, so he gave us tomorrow morning off. I will be able to sleep in a bit and then go to the gym for a nice two hours. Today was a great day, but I have a feeling this weekend will be even better.

Happy Birthday

It really doesn’t feel any different when you turn another year older. Even though today was my 17th birthday, I felt like it was any other day. At least, I would have felt as if it were any other day except that my friends took great pains to ensure that today was fun and special for me. When I got back from class, Christine and Clara had sneakily decorated my room with birthday balloons and streamers. They both got me birthday gifts, which was really sweet of them. The girls, Cameron, and I went to dinner at Tandoor, an Indian restaurant in the Home Area. After dinner we went back to my room for birthday cake, a gift from my RC. I am so happy and grateful that my friends helped make today special for me.

Class started off a little unusually; instead of an hour-long lecture to begin the morning, we went outside and played with oobleck. Although this might sound like an elementary school project, there are researchers at UPenn who are currently studying oobleck and other non-Newtonian fluids. We got to run across the oobleck, which was fun until our feet got stuck.

Our guest speaker for the day was Dr. Mark Devlin, a cosmologist at UPenn. He works on a project called BLAST, which sent radio telescopes into space via balloon. Radio telescopes get too much interference from the atmosphere, so he used NASA balloons to take the telescopes above 95% of the atmosphere to get clear readings. He used the data taken by BLAST to learn about the formation of galaxies. Our past few guest lecturers have had similar themes of astronomy and cosmology, although apparently the two groups of scientists don’t always get along well. I thought that I might get bored listening about the same general topic over and over again, but instead I found that the review helped me gain greater understanding of the subject every time.

I did notice something interesting when I reviewed my notes for the guest lecturers–everyone who we’ve spoken to so far has been male. I have no problems with our guest speakers; they’re all at the forefronts of their fields and they’ve all given excellent presentations, but I did think it was worth noting. Even by looking at my fellow students it becomes obvious, as there are 11 girls and 26 boys. Especially after taking Women and Leadership at Brown last summer, I’ve tried to be more aware gender roles, and it appears that physics isn’t a field that has a lot of women in it. However, I know that the rest of the girls in my class are brilliant young women who are passionate about various aspects of physics, so I hope that within the next decade or so that ratio will change.

Today was the final day to work on our interest group projects, so we took our radio telescope outside to look at the sun. Of course, the day we need to take data is the only day this week that it’s foggy. Thankfully, we were still able to get some readings and we’ll analyze the data together next Tuesday. It’s been a great opportunity to work with Dr. Aguirre and the members of my interest group and it’s convinced me that I should definitely consider undergraduate research opportunities as a major factor when looking at colleges.

Our elaborate-looking set-up, which is mostly courtesy of RadioShack
I had a wonderful birthday, thanks to my friends and a fun day in class. Although this is the third year I've spent my birthday away from home, I haven't felt the loss of it. Today was truly a happy birthday.

Happy Birthday Mariko!

Today, instead of starting class with a lecture, we became test subjects for one of the other interest groups. They were working with a non-Newtonian fluid made from corn starch and water, for all those who might want to try it at home. I was amazed at by the quicksand like fluid, which seemed solid if you tried to move it really fast, but then became liquid if you moved it slowly. There was tubs filled with the fluid that we had to run through, or cartwheel through if your are feeling brave. I was scared of getting stuck, so I didn't run on it, but it did went up messed around with it.

Before going back to class, Bill gave us a quick history lecture about all the buildings outside. I felt sad because they all had such great backgrounds, but then ended up as a storage unit for medical waste or an apartment. We watched BLAST, which is a documentary about today's guest speaker, Mark Devlin, and his project in Antarctica. He would build the biggest balloon ever, attach a telescope to it, and then launch it into space. His mission was to not only get a better picture of the universe, but to get a better understanding of galaxies. I was astonished when I learned that he nearly lost all of his data because of one technical difficulty. The data managed to get back to Earth, but was lost in the snow.

After the film, we got a chance to have the actual man who did it. Mark Devlin talked about the telescope in more detail, which was not mentioned in the film. He then talked about his previous launches and new launches. At the moment, he is working on another, BLAST-pol. This time, he will be looking for the formation of stars. One think that interested me to get even more involved with physics was that that the whole research team consisted of two or three actual professors, the rest being graduate students.

After lunch, we continued our work with our interest groups. Craig saved us a ton of time today by already starting the cooling process, which literally is a game of patience. At first, we tried to use more powerful source, but noticed that it was letting to much air current in, so we had to switch to yesterday's source. Although we used yesterday's source, we didn't get the same results. We gave the magnet more power, hoping for an even bigger curve. The excitement of the strong source didn't leave the room and Bill noticed this. He found something that would stop the air current and BWALA, it worked. Unfortunately, we ended up running out of dry ice, so the fun ended as it was just starting.
Look....There's A Beta
I regret going to play soccer. We didn't have any plans for the evening, for Mariko's birthday, so I went. I did get a text that plans were made, but read it too late. So instead of having Indian food, I got the same old dinner at Houston's.

Tomorrow, the Physics Academy students are given the chance to sleep in. We will be going to The Franklin Institute at 9:30AM. I will use my sleep wisely, so that tomorrow I can enjoy it to the fullest.

Happy Birthday Mariko!

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.

Happy Birthday Mariko!

The day had finally arrived, a day for oobleck! Jessica and I arrived at the David Rittenhouse Laboratories a few minutes before we were supposed to be there so we just sat in A-1 and waited for the rest of our team. The oobleck team headed out back with our instructor, Bill Berner, and started the dirty work. Our task for the morning was to mix up four large troughs of oobleck. Seems simple, right? Well we only had two hundred fifty pounds of corn starch available and we had less than an hour to do so. So the work began!
Elena, Jessica, and I messing around in oobleck! RAWR!

Shortly after 9 AM students began streaming in. When I saw Mariko I ran to wish her a happy birthday! Oh course I was careful not to cover the birthday girl in oobleck. For the next half an hour we played in the corn starch-water mixture. It was extremely fun and super messy. It was all worth it though. For the remainder of class we watched a movie then yet another cosmologist came in to talk to us.

After lunch we returned to our interest groups and prepared our final reports. In the oobleck room we divided up the tasks for our powerpoint and then experimented some more. We added dry ice to the oobleck just to see what would happen. How many other classes have you been in where you get to do stuff just for fun?!

Happy 17th Birthday, Mariko!
For dinner we all went to an Indian Restaurant where Ivette, Cameron, and I all had Indian food for the first time. Cameron and I went with the buffet so we could try as much food as possible while everyone else ordered their own individual plates off of the menu. I am so happy we went to an Indian restaurant as I've wanted to try Indian cuisine forever!

Today was a great day and I almost thought it was Friday. Tomorrow the physics people get to sleep in a bit before we meet in the Quad for our field trip to the Franklin Institute at 9:30 instead of the usual 9:00 at the lab a few blocks away. The extra minutes of sleep will be greatly appreciated. 

To end the day we're having a movie night in Ivette's room. Happy birthday to Mariko, once again!