Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Flip the Switch

Yesterday, Prof. Lamas offered up the option to go hang out with Michael at a local cooperative community garden of which Michael is a member of. This was posed as an alternative to the morning portion of class, but I decided to stay with Prof. Lamas because he was going to be opening the discussion today and I love the way he stimulates our minds.

He began class this morning with a film about the origin of the modern day factory.  In the late 19th century, the factory was loud and cluttered, and there was little coordination between each department.  As this lack of coordination proved more and more to be a setback in the production of goods, a man named Frederick Winslow Taylor, created this new method of scientific management.  Using Taylor's methodology of clockwork, complex jobs were divided into simple tasks, which in turn eliminated the worker's voice in the management of the factory.  Taylor's guiding motto throughout his life was finding the "one best way" to do something, so he set out to implement this plan of maximum efficiency.  Like I said before, however, the down side to this ideology was that it dehumanized the workers, created non-personal connections between the "thinkers" and the workers, and ended up branching out into other areas of life.  For example, from the "one best way" motto developed home economics; soon, experiments were being conducted in several areas of life, and their main purpose was to find the absolute best way to complete a task. 

Nowadays, the idea of maximum efficiency and productivity has led to the mechanical substitution of the worker.  Many factories seeking to increase their profits will hire highly skilled craftsmen to create a machine that can do all of the work that a human would otherwise do.  In some settings, people are only hired to simply move an object from one machine to the other, and this is what they are required to do all day long.  The assembly lines arranged in factories require each worker to focus only on the basic task they are assigned to do, and they must keep up with the line in order to keep their jobs.  The problem with that system is that people become so mechanized to perform that task that they no longer use their brains to carry out their work, but instead their bodies use muscle memory to complete jobs.  However, it is not only the workers of these factories that do not have to think, but even the managers become so used to doing the same things everyday that they no longer  have to use their brains either.  Whether intentional or not, Taylor's theory of scientific management continues to affect our basic human nature in extremely negative, and I would even say, frightening ways that need to be broken down if we are to maintain our fundamental right of being able to connect with others.

Tag Or Be Tagged

Mission complete. I was able to wake up earlier, by 20 minutes so that I can get to those delicious chocolate chip bagels at Einstein Bros. Even my roommate woke up earlier, which just tells you how delicious these bagels. Then as we were exiting our dorm, our two man mission became a staggering five man mission. As we reached the head of the line, we were in shock, they were out of chocolate chip bagels, within twenty minutes of being opened. But I got over it, noticing that there was still many others to chose from. As my roommate is ordering, magic happens, they bring out another batch of chocolate chips. Breakfast has never been better.

Instead of having a lecture for the morning, we continued our lab on the speed of light. I thought that getting the wires all in the right spot was hard, but man getting the laser to hit the mirror that is 50ft. away was even harder. To add on to the level of difficult, our whole system was on a cart with no brakes, so if we tried to adjust the oscilloscope, we ended up moving the laser, which ruined everything.  But after mutliple slight adjustments to the mechanism, we were finally able to get solid readings. And then with Craig's help, we were able to translate the readings and find the speed of light. After the project, we had the rest of the day to work on our presentations or to go to lunch. Since half of my group was still working, I went with the other half to lunch.

At first, it was only Michael and I working on the exponetial growth presentation. Kim joined us later because at Ocean City he stepped on a nail and had a doctor's appointment for the incident. We finished our first presentation with our first hour of working. Then, we had a failed attempt to analyze our Hershey Park data. Apparently, all the data we saved, would overlap when we tried to view it on datastudios. It made it harder for us to single out our best results, which were covered by a failed attempt and a couple test drives. We decided on working on that presentation with Bill tomorrow and finish the cloud chamber presentation.

After a few hours of working, there was of a necessary union break on everyone's face. We split up again, half went for a nap and the others went for smoothies before our evening activities. If anyone ever goes to Penn, I recommend a strawberry mango smoothie from the fruit salad vendor just outside the entrance of the quad. The smoothie is the perfect for any hot day at Penn, which will be all of summer.

In the evening, the Penn cohort went to laser tag. I have never ever played laser tag before in my life, but I had an expectation of how to play. I am proud to say that for a first timer, I ranked 11th and then 7th out of 41 people. Nonetheless, everybody had fun and a great time, smiling and laughing as the final game ended. Today's meeting with my RC was not about movies, but about leaving. I have enjoyed every moment at Penn, I know that I will miss all my friends, instructors, the staff, and most of all Penn.

Goodbye, Rittenhouse Lab

Today was our final day in the Rittenhouse Laboratory. It's been really great to have access to the amazing facilities here, and I'll definitely be sad to go back home to the labs at my poor California public school. We spent our entire morning finding the speed of light.

 My group wound up in the basement, trying to aim a laser through a beamsplitter at a mirror 30 feet down the hall, and then get that beam to reflect off of the mirror through a lens to focus on a PN diode. I'd say that it gave a whole new meaning to the phrase "shooting in the dark." Once we got the laser focused, we had a tricky time getting the oscilloscope to work. Finally, we got a number for the speed of light, and it was only .01 off from the number we wanted!

Once we finished our lab, we were done for the day. I went to lunch, and then met with my interest group to discuss our presentation on Thursday. We distributed the different tasks and agreed to put them all together tomorrow. After that, I met with my Hershey Park group to work on our Friday presentations. I think that I'm in good shape for all of my presentations this week.

On a lighter note, I went with the rest of the Penn Team on a trip to play Laser Tag. I've never played Laser Tag before, and I loved the experience! It was a fun contrast to the intensity of the last couple of days of class, although my friends would tell you that I got very competitive about the game. The day ended with a floor meeting about the end of the week and departure from UPenn. I'll miss everyone here, but I think that I am ready to go home.

Two Games Of Laser Tag

This morning , I had a really h. ard time getting up. The alarm went off once , the alarm went off twice, and I still was not up. Me going to sleep at 2 in the morning might have had a slight contribution to that. However , I managed to get out of bed and dressed by 8:50 , and make a 5 minute walk to class.

Today we finally , after about a week, got a lecture from Professor Lamas. He started of by showing us a 25 minute film , in which he stopped at selected points so that we could analyze what was going on.After the first stop , many people saw that the director was comparing a group of men to herd of sheep. This was saying that they were being led and controlled by some force other then themselves. After about an hour , we got a guest speaker by the name of  Sean Green , who is an admissions officer at Penn. He told us everything there was to know about getting into Penn , from the application process , financial aid, to tuition. He also presented a lot of statistics relating to the student body at Penn. 

After lunch , we dove back in to the video with Professor Lamas. This time we went more in depth in discussing what was going on and what might have caused particular reaction in the characters. If we were not interpreting the film, it has potential to be rather entertaining.

Class got out about 30 minutes early, and that was good because it gave us all time to rest before we headed out to play laser tag. I like laser tag a lot because it reminds me of a video game I play , and it can get pretty competitive. Many of cohorts had never played before , so I was glad I got to play with them for their first times. There were 3 teams, a yellow , blue , and a red , with about 30 players. After about 2 games of running around and shooting my lasers at people it was time to go home.

I am really looking forward to tomorrow , not as much as the girls, because it is our "monthaversary"( a term used to describe being together for precisely a month). We will being going out to eat with Mr Lawrence and think back on the past month of all the fun we have had together.

Lasers, Lasers, and More Lasers

Today was not exactly what I have become used to over the past 3 weeks.  We spent the morning in our groups from yesterday, finishing our speed of light experiment.  We sent a laser beam down to one end of the hall and reflected it back. One detector picked up the beam at the beginning, and one detected the reflection.  The time between the two detectors, divided by the distance from the laser to the mirror and back, gives the speed of light. Although finding measurement did not take as long as I expected, we ran into some challenges.  Once we had everything set up, we discovered that the radio waves and x-rays from the most-likely awesome graduate lab experiments were interfering with our signals.  We then had to move our entire apparatus up a level and set everything up again.   In the end, we got an accurate number and we were very excited.

For the rest of the day we were "free," but encouraged to work on the three presentations due in the next three days.  I started by working on the powerpoint for my Quantum Mechanics group, and then met back at the dorm with Mariko, Alysa, and Jessica to work on our other two projects.  We split up the work well, and got a lot done in a few hours.  

We grabbed some dinner before meeting at 5:45 for...wait for it...LASER TAG!  I'm no Barney Stinson, but I had an amazing time.  It was my first time playing laser tag, and I know I will play a lot in the future.  I was exhausted by the time we got back on the bus for the hour ride home. 

Tomorrow is our first day in our new building, and our first presentation day.  Alysa, Jessica, Mariko, and I will present about the exponential properties of radioactive decay and dice tossing.  I'm not sure how well doing Science in an English building will go, but I guess we will just wait and see.

Laser Tag Anyone?

My morning started off with an early trip with Mariko. I went to sleep early the night before, so getting out of bed wasn't a problem. After the gym, Mariko and I joined Clara for breakfast. We had about an hour before class started, therefore we took our time eating. They left around 8:25 since their class is quite a walk. My class is three minutes from the quad, so I went back to my room to clean up a bit before heading to class.

Prof. Lamas started off the morning class with a video about the origins of a factory setting, and how it has developed through the decades. Frederick Taylor was the main character in the video, he is credited for inventing scientific management. About an hour into this topic, a guest speaker arrived to the class, Sean Green. Sean Green is an admissions officer at Penn. He told us everything we needed to know about the application process, the opportunity and access, tuition, financial aid, and a ton of statistics about the current alumns at Penn and other Ivy League Schools. I'm a rising junior so I still haven't gave much thought as to where I want to go to college, the only thing I'm sure of right now is that I do want to go. I would love to go to an Ivy League School, but before Sean's presentation I thought it just wasn't possible for me. Now, after hearing all about the different opportunities and how much help is available, I know I will be applying to the University of Pennsylvania.

The afternoon class was back under Prof. Lama's control. We finished watching the video from the morning class, and talked about it. Prof. Lamas then played for us half of a Charlie Chaplin video. He would stop about every thirty seconds, and we would interpret the scenes we just saw. At about 4:30, we were dismissed.

There is always something going on here, a trip, an activity in the quad, or some kind of social gathering. Today we had the option of going to a Phillie's game, tie-dye in the quad, or playing laser tag. I went to a Phillie's game on Saturday with my Penn cohort, so I didn't wan to do that. It was then between tie-dying or laser tag, it wasn't a tough decision. I chose laser tag! I have never played laser tag before, I had never even heard of it! Alysa and Chloe told me it was really fun and that I would really like it, and they were so right. I was a bit scared at first, because the room where we played was really big and pretty dark, but in the end I think that's what made it fun. I'm really glad I went!

I don't know if anybody besides the Penn cohort knows what tomorrow is, but it is a super special day! Tomorrow is our Monthaversary! Yes, it's almost a whole month that we've spent together. We wanted to go historical sight seeing, but we get out too late to be able to do that, so Mr. Lawrence will be taking us out for what will be our last dinner together on the East Coast. Time has gone by so fast!

I would like to end my blog by wishing a very close friend of mine, Tayler Ward, a very happy birthday!

Lasers, Lasers Everywhere

My academic day was cut short when we were released to work on our presentations at lunch time. Before lunch we worked in our final lab groups to find the speed of light. My group was the last to finish because we has a hard time getting the equipment to work. After receiving help from every staff member available we were able to run our tests which literally only lasted a couple of seconds.

I went over to Houston Market with Elena and grabbed my lunch to go. I ate my bacon cheeseburger as I did my final load of laundry. I do not plan to wash any more clothes while on this trip. At 2:45 I went to Clara's room to work on our group presentations on exponential decay and our roller coaster analysis. We had a difficult analyzing the data we obtained from the ride but after we figured it out it was smooth sailing from there. I went back to my room to put my laptop away and put on closed toe shoes before going to dinner which would almost immediately be followed by laser tag.

The girls of the Penn Team ate a quick dinner and returned to the quad to check in for our trip. The ride to Ultrazone was lengthy due to the amount of afternoon traffic on the freeway. I could tell we were all ready to beat our opponents. For the first 40 minute round I was on the yellow team amongst the rest of my cohort. We tried to shoot our lasers at as many opposing players as we could. There was a lot of ground to cover and 40 minutes really isn't a lot of time when you're having fun. Yellow team won! For the second round I moved over to the blue team with Cameron and David. Unfortunately this time around, the yellow team won once again. I was very proud of everyone for showing such great sportsmanship as I know a lot of people tend to get very competitive.

The ride back to campus was shorter than the ride there and was just as quiet. I've noticed that towards the end of the day, everyone starts to lose their energy and they start to settle down. Tomorrow we begin our group presentations in physics which will take place in the Fisher-Bennett Hall due to a convention of physics teachers visiting the Rittenhouse laboratories. Tomorrow is also the month-a-versary of the Penn Team! As each day passes, it is harder and harder to believe that just four weeks ago we were arriving and in a few days we will be departing

So long!