Ostridges, Orbits and Exhaustion

I guess the day starts at 12:01 am, which means the first thing I did was walk up to the observatory to begin the asteroid shift. Just about nothing is more amazing than chilling in the observatory, and making jokes with our team, and the one on the west telescope. The TA’s have been an endless source of entertainment, so it was no surprise that we made Diego recreate his famous ostrich walk, which he did successfully without bumping the telescope (unlike the last observation). By the time we had taken our three sets of asteroid pictures, it was time to head back to the dorms. The party to celebrate turning in problem set two was coming to a close, but I got to hear about an unsuccessful attempt to serve watermelon, and an even worse game of Catan. All I got to see was the delirious aftermath of 15 SSP’ers who should have definitely been sleeping. After spending nearly twenty minutes messing around, I had to sprint up to the dorms to make it into my room before the 1:30 curfew. 

My alarm went off at eight, which means I rolled out of bed to turn it off at 8:15. It’s been exponentially harder to wake up in the morning, the more days that pass. However, the dining hall coffee and hashbrowns make a great breakfast that I can eat on the way to Sommers Bausch Observatory. The morning lecture was on Newtonian laws, which I think was familiar to most everyone, but the paradoxical difference between gravity generated by centripetal force, or constant acceleration, and that of a large mass was a very interesting theoretical question. A point came up, that if you throw a pen, in the opposite direction of a centripetal acceleration machine at a speed proportional to radius, it will simply remain, which would logically prove the difference between earth, and artificial gravity. However, if you were to throw the pen, at a speed proportional to the radius of the earth, it would in fact go into orbit, a similar event to that created by centripetal gravity. This pen that defied the law of air resistance to go into orbit, created a nice transition into our next lecture.

I came into SSP not understanding very many math proofs. This is definitely changing, but this lecture felt like it put me back on square one. The laws of Kepler seem very useful, but tied into one gigantic equation that creates more than seven smaller equations to determine any element of orbit determination, and covers five whiteboards, was way too much for my sleep deprived brain to process. By myself I would have sat there suffering, trying to write as much down as I could, hoping the notes would assist future me in a youtube search, and I still did that. However the brilliant group of people around me, who were undoubtedly equally confused, were bouncing points off each other to try to comprehend. There were multiple times where the equation became so absurd that laughter broke out, which at that point was the only accurate response. I actually liked the lecture, for the universal bond of confusion, not for the vis viva equation, obviously.
The day ended with the start of the third problem set, which is definitely my favorite one so far.  I headed back to my dorm attempting to fall into bed by twelve, which my brain now considers an early bedtime. Despite today being a rather average day, I really appreciate every chance I have to be here, and I’m excited for the next month!


Hi, I’m Alyssa, and I’m from Alberta Canada! I love endurance running and acrylic painting in my free time. If anyone mentions coding, I can talk about making neural networks/ logic trees for hours. SSP turned computer science from competitions and theory, into real world benefits, so I can’t wait for the rest of the program!