The Physics of the 2000 Bush Al Gore Election

I was so sleepy going to bed last night that I set my alarm for 8:40pm, instead of 8:40am. This happens quite often actually, and I have no idea why I still make myself manually set my alarm every night instead of having a reoccurring one. Fortunately, my circadian rhythm woke me up at 8:52am with 8 minutes to spare. My roommate Natalia was still asleep as well, so I woke her up and we ran to SBO…

Today marks the start of the last full week of the Summer Science Program. At this point in the program, lectures turn from deriving the endless steps necessary for our Orbital Determination code to totally cool stuff! (not that math and physics aren’t cool.. I love them as well!!!) Dr. D decided to tell us about his experience as the physicist who investigated the FedEx Express Flight 1478 crash of 2002. I have never learned about airplanes before, so I found it crazy to understand the optics behind the PAPI landing system. 

The green and blue in this image are actually the same color! But the surrounding colors affect your ability to perceive them. Its relativity to the colors around it is how pilots can mistake the red and white landing signals and end up descending too quickly. This plane turns out to have carried some of the deciding Florida ballots of the 2000 Bush Al Gore election which burst into flames… 

The few of us who didn’t run to get breakfast during the 15min lecture break

In the second half of the morning, Dr. D told us about his childhood and career journey. He also recommended us a variety of physics, astronomy, and sci-fi books to read throughout our undergraduate years. I hope to read as many of them as I can in the future 🙂

Dr. D explaining how to achieve my life goals (to become unemployed) 

I’ve been thinking a lot about what to study in college, but don’t worry, after reading this chart, I think I’m going to major in psychology. I just can’t decide between clinical psychology, organization psychology, educational psychology, or miscellaneous psychology. I know, they all seem to lead to great careers.

Post-lunch psetting with my besties Ben, Sophia, Leo, and Elyse

Our lunch conversations always make me laugh so hard to the point where it takes an hour for us to finish eating, but that’s just a part of what makes SSP special. We are also particularly productive during this time period (we completed maybe a quarter of a problem). 

In the afternoon, we had a guest speaker, J.B. Tarter, who works in the US Department of Energy for the government and is an SSP ‘01 alum. He happens to be really close with Josh Gottlieb, one of our previous guest speakers at CUB who  always mentions their friendship, of course. 

Dinner with Mr. Tarter, Jay, August, Stephanie, and William!

He talked a lot about how most of us won’t become astrophysicists, yet there are endless other possibilities and experiences waiting for us if we seek them. I took away that SSP connections will follow you everywhere, for the rest of your life, even when you least expect it. 

I’m so thankful to be a part of SSP, the most dedicated and supportive community I’ve ever been in. We’re already 82% of the way to being alums, but it feels as if the memories from the first week are still so vivid. Back then, I couldn’t even imagine the workload ahead or what the end of the program would feel like. Somehow, amidst the hardest work I’ve ever done and the latest I’ve ever gone to bed, I’ve been having the best experience of my life. 

The girls at our last dorm meeting!!

And the guys. 

Turning in my last PSet after 5 weeks of being challenged in ways I didn’t believe were possible before :,)

Walking back to the dorms at 1:15am in sync with the cult 

Hey everyone! My name is Lillian and I’m from Belmont, Massachusetts. I love rowing and trying new foods and I hope to study physics or engineering in college! It’s hard to believe that our time here is really coming to an end, so for now, I’m just going to savor every moment of our last week together.