local culture

Pasadena, City of Roses

Even if you’ve heard of Caltech before, you might never have heard of Pasadena, the quaint Los Angeles suburb it’s tucked into.

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Chandrew’s Recs #2: categories: [local] In Search of Hot Chicks (Specifically, the Best Nashville Hot Chicken)

About a month later it is finally time for the second part of our three (maybe 4??) part series where I take you through my favorite food in the Pasadena area. Today’s episode, Nashville hot chicken.

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research

Chandrew's Recs #1: Bubble Tea!

Hey hey! We’re starting a series where I walk you through my best finds for food and drinks in the Pasadena region, and in the LA metropolitan area. Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, if you will (although, for copyright reasons we can’t call it that). As you explore your college options, I firmly believe that food and location are more important than your high school guidance counselor may lead you to believe. And I’m here to share my best finds from my time at Caltech with you.

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Academics

Due Tomorrow, Do Tomorrow

It’s Thursday night and you’re trying to finish one of the two sets you have due tomorrow. You’ve been grinding at the set for a few hours and things have actually been going pretty well, but then you get stuck.

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Student Life

It's Rant Night!!!!!

Vital Information: The seniors now have fewer weeks left at Caltech than the frosh have terms.

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research

An Interview with a JPL Mentor!

Over the past several months, I have had the opportunity to intern at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) under the mentorship of senior research technologist Dr. Xiaoqing Pi. Dr. Pi’s guidance and mentorship has been instrumental to the development and success of my internship at JPL, where I use machine-learning to enhance the accuracy and integrity of navigation and communication signals. In addition to helping me develop an understanding of atmospheric and ionospheric remote sensing and machine-learning, Dr. Pi has often offered his insights on how to improve my researching skills. Dr. Pi was generous enough to take the time to answer a few questions regarding his research and advice for future student interns. I believe many students can benefit from some of the lessons that he has taught me:

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research

Forging Ahead with Research while Sheltering in Place

The transition period to remote learning was a very uncertain time, especially for research and the Caltech Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) program. Many hands-on projects had to pivot at the last minute to facilitate off-campus contributions. However, many Techers were able to take advantage of the research opportunities offered at Caltech and JPL to make the best out of remote learning and research. To paint a picture, I’ve interviewed a few talented Techers for some insight on what researching from home looks like for them.

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culture

Rotation Rotation Rotation - The Caltech Houses

My favorite part about Caltech is the Houses! The easiest way to describe them is as Hogwarts houses: each has their own personality and group of people and the first thing you do at Caltech is go through a “sorting” process. The people are what makes the Houses at Caltech so great. As a frosh, it’s amazing to be able to come in and immediately have a group of 100+ people to support you. Because the Houses have students from every grade, you make friends with upperclassmen and can ask for help on tons of things like:

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The Indian Festival of Lights

Hey everyone, and happy holidays! Personally, one of my favorite holidays during the season is Diwali. The description you’ll find all over the internet is “Diwali is the Indian Festival of Lights.” This is pretty much what every Diwali-celebrating, South-Asian child in America wrote in their elementary school reports about family traditions during the holidays, but it holds true! Diwali usually does involve lighting candles and sparklers, and generally celebrates the triumph of good over evil in various mythologies. I like to think of it as a time of general goodwill and festivity. In non-pandemic times, Diwali celebrations might include with boisterous parties with tons of people and desserts and music. Last year, a couple of my friends and I organized an event in Ruddock House for people to come celebrate, complete with sweets and sparklers! However, the 2020 version, like for most things, has had to be toned down. We got together over Zoom instead, and although it couldn’t fully match the vibe of being in person, the spirit was definitely there. And, it’s nice to think that we’ve started a yearly tradition.

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academics

Reflecting on College Admissions

What do you remember feeling when you found out you had been accepted to Caltech?

In short: I was completely shocked. Caltech had been my first-choice school for years (warm weather, great science, what’s not to love?). However, I didn’t ever think I’d get in: nobody had gotten in from my high school in the living memory of any teacher and my guidance counselor had told me point blank that it was a longshot.

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academics culture

My Best Advice for the Class of 2025

It’s crazy to think that it has been four years now since I was applying to college. I remember it vividly. This week we’re spending some time reflecting on our personal admissions processes, and how we ended up at Caltech. There’s one question though that I wanted to spin out into a separate post: “what advice would you give to the admitted class of 2025?” And I think the best way to do this is to tell a more detailed story than I did in my other post.

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academics

Admissions Reflections

What do you remember feeling when you found out you had been accepted to Caltech?

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global academics

Online School.. on Mars

When the announcement was first made that fall term was going to be online, I started talking to friends and looking for places to live. We were debating locations around the country: California, Florida, New York, etc.. there were plenty of options. Then it suddenly hit me, what is stopping us from going to Hawaii, covid numbers were better and a two week quarentine would ensure that numbers stayed down… I proposed this to my friend and we agreed it would be an amazing experience, but we didn’t want to get out hopes up. A month or so later we still haven’t decided where to live, Hawaii seemed too far and too difficult to plan. But we couldn’t get the idea out of our heads. We spent some time looking into plane tickets, places to stay, etc… and it actually didn’t seem so impossible after all. A couple weeks later and we were arriving here on the big island!

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research

AnnABEL's Theorem

Have you ever gotten lost trying to find an address? Have you ever been annoyed by the voice on your phone telling you to “Turn left in 100 ft.” when in reality there is no street to turn into? When you find an address using your phone, have you ever wondered where that information comes from? I think we all have. GPS (Global Positioning System) is a system composed of a fleet of about 24 satellites put into orbit and maintained by the U.S. Department of defense. This technology is used to find a position on Earth by using a mathematical technique, called trilateration. Trilateration uses about 3 satellites, at any given time, to determine an object’s speed, elevation, and position. Most electronic devices come with a built-in GPS chip and use Wi-Fi networks and cellphone towers to enhance location accuracy and calculate its position. Even though GPS is a highly sophisticated system, it is far from perfect! It is not uncommon for it to malfunction when a navigator cannot receive sufficient satellite data or when signals move too slowly due to atmospheric irregularities in the troposphere and ionosphere. This, in turn, can output inaccuracies in location calculations which can cause serious problems in navigation and aviation in addition to unnecessary stress and frustration.

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clubs

How do you manage sports and Caltech?

Usually, while writing this post, I would be at Caltech playing volleyball. I begin school eith preseason, which for those unfamiliar (or are planning on joining women’s volleyball, women’s soccer, men’s soccer, men’s waterpolo, or cross country) is a 5 week long period before school begins where the sports teams I listed before practice and compete. My life during preseason is basically volleyball 24/7. Two practices a day (during school only one) and game days three days a week. No school work to worry about, spending time with my teammates all day, a nice refresher before school begins.

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research

Applying for a Caltech SURF!

The research opportunities, offered to all students at Caltech, are second to none! There are many labs on campus, and I am constantly amazed by the ground-breaking research being conducted by professors, graduates, and undergraduates in each of these labs on a daily basis. The best part is that Caltech undergraduates have the opportunity to apply for and obtain internships in many of these labs. They get to participate and be an integral part of ingenious research. From what I’ve heard, this is not the case in other undergraduate programs. Students elsewhere are usually not given such tremendous opportunities and respect, especially so early in their college career. Instead, they are usually tasked with cleaning beakers or secretarial work; not getting the opportunity to apply what they’ve learned in class to study a discipline they’re passionate about, firsthand.

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academics culture

Zooming Through the Year

These past six months have been a whirlwind- from having to move out of Caltech housing in March within a week’s notice due to COVID-19, to starting the first term of my junior year, I’ve definitely experienced a lot of change. When I went home in March, it was to a completely new state-my family moved from Chino, CA to New Jersey in January (great timing, huh?). While I missed seeing my friends from home, it was fun to have the chance to explore a completely new place. The pandemic obviously limited what I could see and do, but I got to experience walks through nature and along rivers normally foreign to a SoCal native and had some time to focus on bioinformatics research for the lab I work with on campus.

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culture

Photos From the Time of Covid

It’s month 6 of quarantine and I’m writing to you from Colorful Colorado (also known as the state where it snowed last week and was 95 out today). Climate change? Maybe. International conspiracy by the Greek God Zeus to make me miss Pasadena and Caltech more than I already do? Most definitely.

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local

Hello World

It is currently 1:21 in the morning and I am thrilled to be writing the first post of our new admissions blog, Caltech Fission. For those of you who didn’t follow the old blog, it’s nice to meet you. My name is Andrew and I’m a senior at Caltech studying geophysics and English literature.

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research

Sparky, Stand Back! It’s SCIENCE Time!

Happy Friday y’all! In all my abundant free time (which obviously exists) I’ve started volunteering with the Pasadena Unified School District. I’ve been working assisting their after-school program LEARNS, specifically helping with the Chemistry Olympiad and also running experiments for the kids to keep them engaged in science.

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local

Reflections

After a week being back, I think it’s about time for some reflections on what it meant to be abroad, and what I’ve taken away from it. I’m really happy to be back, but it’s just been almost a culture shock of sorts being back in California, and back at my true home (for now, at least).

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research

CaltechY Winter Quarter Friends Dinner

The CaltechY hosts a Friends Dinner once every quarter to thank its supporters and provide them with an opportunity to network with the Y’s student leaders. Each event features one special speaker. In the past, there have been artists, professors, film makers and more. This time, it was one of Caltech’s chemistry professors, Peter Jonas, who spoke about the vision surrounding the new Resnick gift.

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culture

String food = new String(“Too Much Food”);

Hello, Java monsters! If you couldn’t tell from my EXCELLENT punning, I’m taking CS 2 this term, a computer science course about the wonderful world of Java. That’s one of my new classes for this term. Also included: plate tectonics, seismology, field geophysics, physics lab, and a design-your-own English class about American minimalism as a prep-course for my thesis (which I’m hoping to start next term).

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local

LA Zoo Lights

There’s nothing more festive than beautiful holiday decor. Something that has gotten quite popular in recent years is light displays. Around Pasadena, the LA Zoo, LA Arboretum are a few venues that have elaborate holiday light displays. This past weekend, I went to check out the LA Zoo Lights. The general admission is $15 on weekdays and $20 on weekends, which is certainly not cheap, so if you do go, be sure to take a ton of photos.

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global

New Years in Amsterdam

I visited Amsterdam for a brief two and a half days during my vacation. There were a few landmarks and neighborhoods I wanted to checkout, but did not plan the visit in detail. As such, when it came down to destinations with ticketed entries, I had to skip most of them, since they did not have day-of tickets left for sale. Fortunately, I was able to walk around most of the city and it was generally a good time.

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culture

Snowboarding at Cypress

Snowboarding with my friend Cecilia is an annual occasion when I go home for the holidays. Cecilia and I actually learned snowboarding a few years ago. We signed up for these intro lessons, but arrived at the slopes early and thought that we would try a run before the lesson to see where we at. We were slightly confused, so took the lift to a green run instead of the bunny hills. We got down that run 80% on our butt and 20% on our feet, but it was a great start. By the end of that day’s lesson, we were getting down that same run 80% on our feet. Of course, now we are much better.

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global

Goodbye, Old Chang Kee

Well. I’m on a flight out of the UK right now. I’m going from London to Iceland, and then heading back home to Denver for a couple weeks.

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global

Castle to E4, Checkmate

(Yes, I know they’re called rooks, but I needed a pun) Hiya lads and lasses! I did my final wee bit of Scotland exploration this week, which is to say, I finally did the one touristy thing I’d been avoiding doing for all too long. I went to Edinburgh Castle. AND I went INSIDE Edinburgh Castle.

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global

#1

It was a farewell dinner today. The beginning of the end. Crazy to think in less than a week I’ll be back in Denver and this entire country hopping adventure will be completely over.

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global

Drizzles in Durham

There, and back again. A Caltech student’s tale.

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academics

It’s Studying Time

Well, the week before finals week is finally here. And I spent that studying, but also, doing the ever-important finishing of reports, and honestly, taking a couple of much-needed naps to catch up on everything else.

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global

From Cold into Colder

It is COLD here. I know I’ve said that before but hOh my goodness I almost froze to death on Saturday. Of course, this wasn’t helped by how I almost froze to death Friday night as well. But that was by personal choice. So, Friday, night before a fencing tournament (as it always is) I decided to do something rather bone-headed and so I found myself at the ice-skating rink for disco night. Ice-skating has long been a tradition of mine, and one that I skipped during last school year. I’m not a pro or anything, but I don’t fall over anymore, and I can somewhat skate backwards, and that’s usually good enough for any ice rink in California.

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global

Thankful for Singapore Society

I killed today. Yes, I killed Thanksgiving dinner, but more than that, this was the first time that I’d ever prepared live seafood.

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culture

Ice Skating

Ice skating seems rather uncommon here in Southern California as there are only two year-round rinks within driving distance of Caltech. One is the Pasadena Ice Skating Center which is only minutes away, the other is the Santa Monica Rink which is way out west. The interesting thing is, the Olympic figure skating Mirai Nagasu is actually local. Her family owns a sushi restaurant in Arcadia that is only 10 minutes away. There are a lot of Caltech events at the Pasadena rink. The houses often play broomball with each other. For broomball, we would rent out the entire rink. It’s extremely fun and you do not need to know to skate to play. My friends and I have also gone a couple of times to actually skate during their public skate sessions. In fact, two weekends ago, a friend and I headed over to polish up our extremely rusty skating skills.

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global

Cold, Wet, And Happy

Well uh, good evening from a cold and rainy Scotland. I spent the whole of today in beautiful St. Andrew’s Scotland. Funny, I know. I’m Andrew. In St. Andrew’s. And even funnier, it was my mother who told me I had to go to check the place out.

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global

Christmas In… November?

Cue bells, jolly music, and large men in red tracksuits It’s Christmas in Edinburgh! Take that with a grain of salt; I personally don’t believe that the holiday season starts until after Thanksgiving, regardless of what holiday (if you celebrate a holiday) in December. But the Edinburgh Christmas market did start last week, and so I had to go and visit. I joined along on a Singapore society trip but split off from them a bit early because my and I hadn’t had dinner before coming, so we had to go hunt that down.

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clubs

WE19 Conference

Every year, the Caltech Society of Women Engineers attends the National SWE conference to network with other SWE Chapters and to hustle for jobs. Last year, the event was in Minneapolis, and the year before in Austin. This time around, it’s in Anaheim which is much more convenient for us. Since it is much closer, we were able to send many more delegates to attend and miss fewer classes in the process of doing so.

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global

A Fusillade of Question Marks (Belfast Part 2)

One of my favorite Northern Irish poets, Ciaran Carson, passed away last month, and this second part of the trip, this post title, and my Belfast exploration was completely inspired by him. Prior to taking Irish literature last year, I’d never really considered going to Ireland at all, much less that in the span of a month and a half I would be in both Belfast and in Dublin. And now, a full year later, I’ve been to both and am still floating the possibility of a trip to Galway. Crazy how life changes like that.

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global

I Lava Northern Ireland (Belfast Part 1)

Well good morning there! Today I’m writing about what I did last weekend (as per usual). And what I did… was go to Ireland! Again! Except this was a little different than the last trip as we went to Northern island, specifically Belfast and the surrounding area. Our main reason for doing this was to go and visit the Giant’s Causeway (or, at least my main reason), an exceedingly unique geological feature North of Belfast, where cooling lava bends cracked, forming what is now a series of beautiful angular columns, most of which are heptagonal or hexagonal in shape. To do this though, we ended up on a bus tour (as this was significantly easier than renting a car for the weekend) and made a few other stops as well. These included the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, a traditionally dodgy bridge built for salmon fishing, that, since restrictions on salmon fishing had been implemented had been taken over by the national trust and made into a (somewhat disappointing) short bridge to a small island. The surrounding area was beautiful though. We also stopped at a couple of castles and a few other locations, but honestly most of them weren’t all too noteworthy, so enjoy this picture of a sheep that was at one of the stops.

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clubs

Day in Durham and Fall Feels

It’s truly Autumn in Scotland now. It reached 0 degrees Celsius today, or 32 Fahrenheit for you yanks. They’re setting up the Christmas market downtown (as thanksgiving isn’t a thing here they just skip directly from Halloween to Christmas). Snow isn’t falling, but it does seem to be raining every other day. And it’s pleasant, quite pleasant. The rain turns Edinburgh into even more of a dramatic and beautiful city than usually is.

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global

A Scone, on a Stone, in Scone

G’day mates! Today I am writing from Edinburgh, but I just go back from Perth! Yep, that’s right: flights to Australia were reaaaally cheap this weekend so we just couldn’t resist a trip down under! It was great! We saw a koala, had a Tim Tam Slam, and… yeah… just kidding. We went to Perth, Scotland, haha.

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Spotlight


local culture

Pasadena, City of Roses

Even if you’ve heard of Caltech before, you might never have heard of Pasadena, the quaint Los Angeles suburb it’s tucked into.

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academics

Some Late-Night Stress-Saving Food Runs

Midterms kept up its unrelenting attack on my sanity this week – at least a little bit. And how did I solve this? Two words.

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culture

Caltech Art Gala

Every year, Caltech’s literary and arts magazine Totem hosts the Art of Science competition.

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global local culture

Quick Trip to the Beach

Although there are a lot of smaller things, such as midterm smoothies and milkshakes (Blacker does something similar to this) and some larger things like Faculty Dessert Night, the soc team usually agrees that beach trip is the most work.

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