Super SPies

Here we go. There’s only 3 minutes left before the zoom ends, so I have to think fast. What do I know about the BIG BANG? It was an event that created the light elements, extremely short time periods that follow it are some of the major epochs, and it’s the prevailing theory on how the universe began. But how does that help me right now? Where does a BOX fit into all this? Wait a second… What if I…? I got it!


Of all the different things that I have been hoping to experience during SSP, playing Codenames had never crossed my mind. The Zoom time isn’t just for listening to lectures or working on problem sets; it includes a social hour and a game hour as well! At first, I was caught off guard by the switching between intense, fast paced learning and casual chatting, but it became the perfect balance for me in just a few days. Now, a game of Codenames is just assumed to be on the schedule for the day. 

In addition to the standard zoom hours, there’s also optional opportunities that are open to us. Just this past weekend, I joined a remote observing “asteroid marathon” hosted by Dr. R. I got a live video tour of the NIRo control room and witnessed firsthand how the control computer communicates with the telescope and collects data for our asteroid targets!! We have written observing proposals as a team and have analyzed the images that we get back, but the details of the middle steps have been a mystery until now. I thought that I would miss out on the observing side of astronomy since we are online this year, but this showed me that it’s just the opposite. NIRo is in Indiana, so I wouldn’t have gotten to experience this if I was attending the CUB campus in person. I also got to talk to participants from a different campus during the 15 minutes gap periods between sets of images which was an added benefit. 

Another experience in the same vein was listening to our most recent guest speaker, Dr. Larry Sverdup. My mind was going down the same path again. I thought that I would miss out on experiments because we were online. Yet, Dr. Sverdup did around 15 live demos, all during the same presentation. And they weren’t your usual ones either. After starting off with a literal bang, he went on to demonstrate infrared vision, create a vortex ring, and use liquid nitrogen! I felt like I was sitting in the front row of a stage show the entire time. Additionally, this Zoom had all 5 campuses together, so it was really great being able to talk to any SSPian about the time we all shared. 

With all these great events already, what’s there not to love? I have been thoroughly enjoying every moment of the SSP journey so far, and it might seem like that’s what every single person has been saying, but that’s simply because it’s true. I have gained so much knowledge, had amazing experiences, and made connections with people across the world in just the first 2 weeks of it. I can’t wait to see what the next 3 weeks have in store. 

The time has been INTENSE yet REWARDING and filled with JOY. It requires you to lose some SLEEP, but energizes you with new LEARNING the next day. It almost seems paradoxical, but the best way I can describe it all together is just

SSP, 5

About me: Hi everyone! My name is Atharva, and I’m from Minnesota. In my free time, I enjoy playing chess, badminton, table tennis, and basically any indoor board or card game (note: this is in no way influenced by the sub zero temperatures outside). I also love watching movies (especially Marvel) and solving puzzles!