Professionally on PDT

By: Calvin C

As a person who lives in the eastern time zone, when I first saw the ONL campus schedule, my jaw dropped in shock. 10pm – 1am!? I thought there was certainly some kind of mistake and that there was no way anyone would expect us to stay up until 1 in the morning. However, after talking with some of the other east coast kids, my worst nightmare was realized: the schedule was indeed correct. Now, was it true that I was normally staying up until 2am on normal days? Yeah. But that’s not the point! My sleep schedule would be dramatically and irrevocably destroyed! (some people say I exaggerate too much).

However, as SSP started, I quickly began to relish the time given to work on Psets and commiserate with my fellow SSPers. There’s just something special about struggling to do Psets with everyone else at 1am. It’s ironically funny, in a way. Oh, and everyone else is so amazing here. They’re all scarily smart, but at the same time, everyone is friendly and approachable. It’s nice to know that whenever I need help, I can always ask one of the resident geniuses or one of the great TAs. For the Psets themselves, I think that everyone else has said it better than I can. They’re challenging and at times frustrating, but they’re also satisfying to complete, and I’ve learned so much these past two weeks.

Tracking Little Beans

By far, my favorite part of the program so far has been choosing and tracking our asteroid through the sky. It’s a great feeling to know that somewhere out there, there is a 2km wide asteroid hurtling through space that is a potential threat to earth, and I’m tracking it!

Can you spot the asteroid in these two pictures? Before the camp, If you told me that I would be searching for a tiny dot moving across a screen of stationary dots and that I would be playing around with file formats, all with a childish grin on my face, I would have laughed and called you crazy. However, here I am now, anxious to review the results of my group’s second observing session, even as the fits files fill my computer.

Chaotic Chemistry

Finally, I have to talk (or write?) about the guest speaker we had today. All the guest speakers have been exceptional, and today was no different. The entire program, (over 180 people) were invited to Dr. Sverdrup’s presentation today, and I was shocked when I discovered that this presentation was going to be Dr. Sverdrup’s 50th presentation to SSP! I soon discovered that this was for a good reason. His presentation was full of amazing demos and experiments that were all extremely entertaining to watch. It was exactly the sort of chaotic energy style that I like in chemistry. Here is a short list of what he did in the much-too-short two hour block. 

  1. Igniting a piece of nitrocellulose using a jacob’s ladder
  2. Electrocuted some “inductees”
  3. Used an IR camera to see through a plastic sled
  4. Dipped his hand into LIQUID NITROGEN
  5. Shattered a rubber ball over his nice wood floor
  6. Used a banana as a hammer
  7. Tried a Plutonian delicacy
  8. Imitated a Parasaurolophous
  9. Shot air currents at the audience
  10.  Almost blew up a balloon

His presentation was honestly one of my favorite science presentations and demonstrations ever. Here are some photos I took from his presentation:

The Jacob’s Ladder about to obliterate some nitrocellulose

A cool optical illusion

Using IR to see through a balloon

Woah! We’re Halfway There (kinda)! Woah! we’re living on a prayer! (more accurate)

It’s hard to believe that it has already been two weeks of SSP, and that we’re approaching the halfway point. It’s probably been more work than I have ever done in my life, but I have met so many great people and learned so many new things. I am so glad that my frantic Google searches in December led me to this program. To end this blog, I’m going to quote the great Galileo Galilei: “We orbit the sun my guy.” Or something like that.

About Me

Hello! My name is Calvin C, and I’m from West Lafayette Indiana. I love anything aerospace related, especially when it comes to rockets and airplanes. When I’m not struggling on Psets or Python, I like to play tennis, read YA books, waste time on YouTube, and play video games. I believe that raspberries are the best fruit, pancakes are better than waffles, and math is the blue folder. Oh, and finally, if you ever find a lost, snarky tiger named Hobbes, please let me know 🙂