It Hasn’t Even Been a Gaussian Day

By: Alex Y


In case you didn’t know (or were in a good mood today), we’re now a few days past the halfway point of SSP! Time really flies by, yaaah?

To commemorate the occasion, I’ve elected to make this blog post a status check thing of sorts.

But before you embark on this blog post, make sure you take some time for yourself to relax :). Stand up and stretch, or drink some water, or blissfully pretend that the Method of Gauss doesn’t exist.

Ok, I hope you had a nice break. Without further ado, here’s the blog post:

No. Guest Speakers so far: 6

I cannot even begin to comprehend how cool the guest speakers are.

(Literally. Dr. Suntzeff’s “Three Universes” talk left me cradling my poor overworked head in the fetal position afterwards)

Where else but SSP can one meet physicists who’ve coined the term “brown dwarf” or first synthesized Bose-Einstein condensate? Where else can one meet multiple engineers and scientists leading groundbreaking NASA missions to Venus or Jupiter, or those pioneering topics like decentralized machine learning? And all this within a few short weeks? Only at SSP.

Project poster for a recently approved NASA mission to Venus that today’s guest speaker, Dr. Grinspoon, is working on

Needless to say, all of the guest lectures and lecturers we’ve had have been fascinating. Some of the ones that have blown my mind the most have been the ones discussing the intersection between humanities and STEM. Now I not only know that concepts like Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem (logically proving fair voting is impossible under certain conditions) can make me very depressed, but also that it relates to machine learning and the futility of aligning AIs with human ethics! (Ok, maybe that’s a little depressing as well).

As someone who’s always been interested in, well, everything, and also currently stressed about what I’ll major in at college or pursue as a profession, it’s very reassuring to know that career paths aren’t as black and white as I thought.

Psets Submitted So Far: 20+

You know, after having done so many mind-bending psets at this point, I can almost fondly look back on Astro Pset 1.

HAHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! No. (If you agreed with the above opinion, I am terrified of you)

Here is how I felt about today’s workload:

Definitely did not spend 3 hours making this instead of writing this blog post

While the psets may not be the most “fun,” per se, they’re definitely interesting. 

That is all I will say about psets.

I genuinely do enjoy the academic challenge though, beyond the psets. It feels like we never run out of opportunities to challenge ourselves. Whether it be going back and deriving lecture problems after lectures, desperately trying to submit the QOD a minute before it’s due, or slightly changing image processing parameters and praying that the plate solve works this time, there’s always something interesting to do.

QODs So Far: 16

Ok, hot take real quick: QODs are harder than psets. 

They aren’t collaborative and we have less time to work on them. Moreover, while we’re given equations and the like for psets, the QODs usually require some sort of artistic creativity or out-of-the-box problem solving; both of which are so much harder than already-difficult-to-develop pset skills: like drawing a cool diagram or visualizing transformations. 

I know what you’re thinking–Alex, you can’t voluntarily (and unnecessarily) spend hours making Thanos gifs for QODs, then turn around and call QODs inherently super hard! And well . . . uh, I guess you’re right. Ok, back to the blog.

Amazing, Wonderful, Beautiful People Met So Far: 46+

Where did y’all come from and how are y’all this cool???

I remember a few days after I’d joined the SSP server in April (back when we still had #the-real-general), I opened Discord only to walk straight into a conversation about research on auxetic metamaterials (Yeah, I don’t know what those words mean either LOL). 

Or another time, a week into SSP, a few people started a conversation about analytic versus continental philosophy at 1 in the morning, which I did not understand, like, at all. 

(Now, if you’re like me, you might be inclined to think that analytic philosophy is better than continental philosophy. After all, analysis seems infinitely more relevant to philosophy than continents. However, after a bit of Googling, I now know this isn’t actually the case! Don’t be fooled!)

For reference: I barely know enough about philosophy to appreciate this meme

Anyway, my point is that you’re all super cool and smart.

However, while I knew that part going into SSP, I definitely didn’t expect the community to be this welcoming, or vibrant, or just plain fun. SSP is a place where I don’t have to be afraid to ask questions about anything and everything. I can be endlessly confused (as I frequently am) and find comfort in knowing that at the end of the day, I’ll always be able to find someone willing to explain yesterday’s QOD or help me solve that pesky last pset problem.

Every day, you all remind me of why I wanted to get into SSP so badly. Whether we’re drawing poorly-drawn Peppas, discussing control theory long after everyone else has left, singing our hearts out to Paramore into the wee hours of the morning, or just grinding psets on a call, every moment spent with y’all is an amazing one. I can’t wait for this next half of SSP.

The karaoke song queue, at some point. I especially enjoyed singing along to the second track

About Me

Hi! I’m Alex Y and I’m a rising senior at Bellarmine College Prep., in San Jose. When I’m not in a robotics lab (any FRC gamers?) you can find me cooking/baking/making yogurt or listening to an unhealthy amount of Phoebe Bridgers. I’m always down to talk about religion or Bob the Bunny.