by Josiah H.
Although my blog post was due on my birthday, I’m submitting it more than a week late. “Why?” you may ask. Well, I’d like to start by blaming everyone but myself.
The first thing I’d blame is my OD (Orbital Determination) Code. OD code 2, which consisted of 5 time independent orbital elements, was due the day before my birthday at 11:59pm. If you’re anything like me, you reacted to that statement with great dismay. How dare they make an assignment due on the “totally universally important” day of June 28th. And even worse, I was up till 11pm staring at my computer screen, wondering why I couldn’t get the right output on a single orbital element. The argument of the perihelion, an orbital element that describes the angle between the closest point of the asteroid’s orbit and the vernal equinox, had kept me up several nights before, preventing me from submitting the assignment early. The best birthday gift I have ever received was my code finally working and getting the expected output. I left the computer lab minutes before turning 17, and looked out into the stars grateful for another year of life. In my opinion, this is a valid excuse for not turning in my blog post on the 28th but we still have to account for 7 more days.
So, on the succeeding day, my time was filled with an interesting talk from Prof. Adrienne Erickcek on Dark Matter and Cosmology. After the 2 hour talk, my brain was stuffed with new ideas about the nature of the universe. The idea of the universe’s expansion through dark energy and space being created between non-gravitationally bound systems was riveting and almost illogical. It would’ve been impossible for me to write a blog post with concepts like general relativity floating around in my brain, so therefore it’s fair for me to have put it off another day.
With 2 of 8 days accounted for, I might start running out of logical explanations for my lateness but for now I’ll choose the two assignments that were due on the 29th as a scapegoat. On the 29th, I had to not only code OD code 3 but also solve Math and Physics Pset 7. To be fair, I finished OD code 3 significantly faster than 2 because it only covers one element rather than five and Pset 7 was extremely intriguing. It was the first time I had actually used a Taylor series to approximate physical phenomena and it was very beautiful and interesting. Through my own derivation, I was able to observe how the usually given equations for the motion of a pendulum are only 1st term approximations of a significantly more complex equation. I felt tons of joy in the direct implementation of my mathematical abilities into an actual real world problem but since I was thinking strictly in Math that day, it would’ve been impossible for me to write a whole blog post.
In order to prevent this blog post from dragging on (it already has), I will skip the days June 29th, 30th and July 1st (on which we visited the planetarium) and go straight to July 2nd, the day on which Open House was conducted. I’m not skipping the days because of a lack of a valid excuse, but rather because I was so occupied that it would take a book to explain all of the “time consuming” activities I was engaging in. On the day of the open house, I was greeted by my favorite “person” on this planet. Seeing my dog Rocket after 3 weeks of separation was a birthday gift like no other. Getting to hold and play with my little baby was by far the highlight of my day (I’m also grateful my parents came). Additionally, we had a guest speaker by the name of Richard Chuang who is one of the most fascinating people I’ve ever met. As one of the founders of DreamWorks animation, who self-taught various subjects in order to make his dream a reality. I was greatly inspired by the sheer ingenuity and unrelenting passion our guest speaker had. Unfortunately, due to Rocket and Mr. Chuang, another day went by without a word being written for my blog post but I still hold “zero” blame.
Lastly, skipping more days (with relevant excuses) to get to July 4th, I’d like to blame the Durham Bulls and Dr. Ice for taking away time I could’ve been writing my blog post. On this day, not only did Dr. Ice take us to the Durham Bulls baseball game, which completely took away any time I could’ve been writing my blog post but additionally, the Durham Bulls had the audacity to call me on the field for a Relay Race. Although I won (with my fellow-participant Oliver), and received a free T-Shirt, the only thought that occupied my mind was “I wish I could be writing my blog post right now”. Even when I taunted my race opponent, I did so half-heartedly, unable to experience the joy of winning because my unfinished blog post was eating at my happiness. Fireworks were launched after the game, and I alone was imperceptive to their beauty. I wanted nothing more but to finish my blog post and Dr. Ice’s scheduled field trip was obstructing my sole purpose.
2 Days later on the 6th, I finally achieved my sole SSP goal of writing my blog post and I will finally be able to leave the program happy.
(Unrelated to the blog post, I forgot to add that me and my friends convinced little kids at a stem summer camp on campus that I was a D1 basketball player and they made me sign their backpacks, and were calling me Lebron James.)
Hello! My name is Josiah and I’m a rising senior at Lafayette Sr Highschool. I enjoy building Rockets, working with arduinos, playing Basketball, and playing with my dog “Rocket” in my free time. At SSP, you will probably find me in the same place as the other participants.