Yasmine’s June 22 Blog

Thursday, June 22nd 2023


A blog by Yasmine Tazi

Have you ever thought of how you would feel to meet the legend behind Shrek’s PDI ? 

Well, it felt legendary. 

My name is Yasmine, and if there is something my space-obsessed 9 year-old self wouldn’t have expected, it’s that I would be sitting in a lab at 1AM at SSP tracking asteroid 2007FV42 – that piece of rock is almost as stubborn as I am. I’m secretly convinced all asteroids are playing a big game of hide-and-seek and are currently having the time of their life making fun of the nerds in the plant room drawing cryptic characters on a chalkboard, fingers covered in cheetos-oil (seriously, those spicy red cheetos puffs look like they were made in an alien factory). 

I grew up in Casablanca, Morocco, which is probably why I would like to claim to be one of the only members of SSP whose neurons weren’t accidently destroyed by UVs, but the humidity took over and did the job instead. Two years ago, at around 3am I looked up “cool astronomy programs” on Google and realized they were quite far. That didn’t stop me, so wherever you are, it is still possible, as long as you accept to give up on your internal clock and comestible food. I decided to move here, and I now study at a boarding school in Massachusetts, which is probably why I can tell the dorms aren’t too bad, except maybe for the roaches. No seriously, we started a roaches-killing competition a couple of days ago and it has been absolutely epic. 

Outside of astronomy, I enjoy listening to music, reading poetry, and drinking tons (and tons) of coffee – a good thing I am served here. 

After a short morning run with my fellow masochists, I attended a lecture on orbital elements where I obviously instantly understood everything and did not zone out at all (from my classmates’ faces, I can tell they had a similar experience). I’m pretty sure a very smart individual once said that time is relative. I am happy to announce to you that my research at SSP has reached similar conclusions.  

Today was very special at SSP because we received a charming guest speaker, and not ANY guest speaker : Shrek.  

No no no, not Shrek sorry, the guy who “made” Shrek. 

I know you’re a little disappointed. 

I was too. 

At least, before Richard Chuang started talking. Turns out Richard Chuang’s brain is bigger than the stomach of an ogre. He barely even talked about Shrek. Chuang grew up passionate about anatomical art, convinced he would become an arts major – he ended up  pioneering PDI’s powerful animation system and being recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with two Technical Achievement Awards – I know. 

The most important thing I got out of Chuang’s lecture, however, is that you can be humble using superlatives, I quote : “I can make mistakes better than you, suckers”

I mean, that’s not exactly his words, but you get the message. Chuang was incredibly humble and not afraid to step out of his comfort zone to try out stuff that had never been attempted in the past. Maybe that will push me to submit my theory on alien-cheetos making instead of my PSET tonight. 


Chuang ended his presentation by casually mentioning he had dinner with BTS without knowing who “those bunch of young people were.” –  I know. 

I got a cool picture with him after annoying him with a bunch of questions that were probably very irrelevant. (Also why is there a cup on the floor?)

SSP is SWEATY. But you will also meet the most awesome, ridiculously smart people in the world. 

Against all odds, everyone here is very different. You know, when we cover Louis Armstrong around midnight, I think to myself : maybe it’s not that we’re out of tune, maybe it’s just that we’re each singing in the key of our own observable universes, and stuff gets red-shifted – something like that. 

Going through 3am observation after six hours of jet lag has proved to be a very efficient bonding experience. I won’t say goodnight because I’m going to go play hide-and seek while the world is going to bed. “Too bad,” you say ? My 9 year old self laughs – she’s filled with joy.