Earthquake Existentialism and Photometry Phun

Author: Gautam R.

My Wednesday technically started at 12:00 AM, when my team (shout-out Team 10)’s observing shift started. I would normally be a little mad about a late observing shift right after a day-long field trip, but we’ve been pretty desperate for data since 3 of our last 4 observations have been clouded out. Luckily, we were able to get some decent data and eventually found our asteroid later that day. 

In the morning, the participants were greeted by the stench of skunk in the dorms, along with a very special special relativity lecture from Dr. Andersen. It was pretty interesting, although I felt like my brain was on a ten-minute time lag when it came to understanding what was being written on the board. He also let us out of lecture half an hour early, which was pretty cool. 

Dr. Andersen enlightening us

After a quick lunch, we played a few sets of table tennis at the dorms, where we may or may not have broken a few of the ping pong balls that Josh bought from Walmart (sorry Josh). 

Another victim of ping pong warfare

 In the afternoon, we had a guest lecture from Dr. Wendy Bohon, who is, among MANY other things, a geologist. It was really cool to hear from someone whose research area is so different from ours here at SSP. The lecture also seemed to incite an endless amount of earthquake anxiety within the Southern Californians, of which there are many (Do NOT look into the ShakeOut scenario). Despite all the fascinating science being discussed, Dr. Andersen seemed more interested in inquiries about Dr. Bohon’s acting career (apparently he really likes vampire movies?????). 

Our centroiding and photometry code was due today, so most people were working hard on that in the pset dungeon after dinner. As someone who would describe coding as “soul-sucking”, needless to say, I did not enjoy this pset. However, I found comfort in my fellow participants, who helped me through it. This has been a common trend throughout SSP for everyone. No matter how lost or confused you are, there’s always someone willing to help guide you.

On a sadder note, I’m stuck with delivering the news that there are only 2 weeks of the program left. SSP’s timeline feels weirdly warped, in that I find it crazy that it’s going so quickly, while also feeling like I’ve known the other participants for months already. However, while the end of the program looms in the distance, we’re being kept busy enough with the OD code and other psets to keep our mind off of it for now. Speaking of which, I should probably get to work on those, so I’ll sign off here, thanks for reading!

About me:

Hi, I’m Gautam, and I live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In my free time, I enjoy singing, playing the violin, and playing the tabla. At SSP, I can usually be found being really bad at ping pong or drinking way too much Dr. Pepper in the dining hall.