research

JTree

Having survived the week as a human (and not yet a zombie), I have found that a dominant survival strategy during the missions, set up by the game moderator so that zombies would have a chance to attack and humans would have a chance to obtain food codes, was to form a small group with a few other humans and act in pure self-interest to go into the missions as early as possible, pick up all of the supplies available, escape, and hoard. It turns out that this game, which was in its beta phase with the food code requirement, is actually very exploitable as a human to act selfishly, since if humans die of hunger, they cannot become zombies, so it is even more so in a human’s interest to hoard food codes. Despite having to carry a loaded Nerf gun to Ph 11, the research tutorial/freshman seminar headed by Professor Tombrello, to neutralize a zombie who was taking the class, I look forward to playing this game again, because nothing is as de-stressing as running around Sloan stealthily or storming the Student Activity Center and busting into every room looking for clues.

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culture

Pre-Midterm Productivity, i.e. Hanging Out With the House

Hellooooo! And welcome to the first installment of Adventures of an Ex-Prefrosh! As you can probably tell from other sources of information, my name is Anita and I’m a freshman here at Caltech. This is the weekend before midterms, when we frosh are supposed to be stressing out.

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global

Greetings from the Isles!

Allo there chaps! Or something. I don’t even. My name is Aditya and this is my humble blog, a little place where I can share my experiences over the next term as a student at Cambridge University for the fall term. Join me in my wacky, zany adventures involving cobblestones, odd accents, and cars coming down the wrong side of the road (70% of the world’s road traffic is on the right, for pete’s sake, and the only ones on the left were once part of the British Empire. I call shenanigans).

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clubs

Looks Like the Carnival is in Town

Each year, Caltech hosts a small carnival on the Beckman Mall with some of the standard carnival attractions: a rock climbing wall, a dunk tank, a money booth, a wrecking ball, a bouncy house, an assortment of small games with prizes, student bands, a cappella groups, dancing, and, perhaps the most attractive feature to a college student, lots of food. The carnival was decked out with snow cones, pretzels, popcorn, nachos, burgers, hot dogs, and more, and our new freshmen received their gifts from the Caltech Alumni Association: a Caltech Blanket, which students laid on the lawn in front of the “wedding cake”.

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research

Hello, World

As a supposedly seasoned Techer who has returned for more learning/pain (they are inseparable), I am now back at Caltech and once morepiled higher and deeperin work and waking up early (8:30 is early) for class, which for an off-campus student is a more difficult test of his interest in the course material. Not to worry, though, for my newest friend craigslist linked me to a gentleman who sold me a very good mountain bike for just 85 dollars! With this, I no longer have to choose between eating breakfast and sleeping an extra 15 minutes, and standard grocery stores are no more than 5 minutes away–the world is my oyster. Going to campus? No problem! And just in time for the end of Rotation, too, to bounce with the newest Darbs!

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global

Weekend 2

One of my favorite things about the bus ride to work was the view outside the window. This may sound a bit mundane, but the bus passes through a road with a lot of trees, which is surprisingly relaxing. When the weather is good, it was possible to see the nearby mountain, Mount Tsukuba. When I first saw it on the map, I knew I wanted to go at least once. The weather in Japan in June isn’t exactly great, however, so any plans of going could easily be ruined by rain.

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research

Wednesday is Pollen Day!

Well, technically, every day is “Pollen Day.” However, Wednesdays are my favorite day of the work week – I take a break from staring at the computer while analyzing data and instead do some hands-on data collection.

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culture

Shadowing Doctors at CHLA

Hey all, During these next two weeks, I will be shadowing doctors at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) through what we call a preceptorship program (essentially a shadowing experience/program) organized by the school. There are about 10 of us premeds participating in this program. The people at CHLA try to arrange our schedules so that we can gain exposure to aspects of medicine we’re especially interested in. For example, I told them that my interests were in OB/GYN and pediatric surgery, so for the first week, I am scheduled to shadow plastic surgeons in both the operating rooms (OR) and the surgical clinic. Since most of us premeds have different interests, we probably won’t see much of each other while at the hospital for the next two weeks. I am incredibly excited for this experience!

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global

Barcelona

Hola! Okay a bit clichéd but whatever, I just got back from Barcelona! This was the first real vacation I have taken since coming to Caltech where I didn’t have my computer or anything to answer lab emails. It was great since after finishing up with my summer work at CERN, my friend from Lloyd, Christine, flew in to Geneva and we left last Monday to head to Spain. She is studying abroad first term in Edinburgh so we decided to go somewhere sunny before she says goodbye to it for a term. Caltech has a bunch of study abroad options with schools in the UK as well as Copenhagen and Paris, and there are plenty of Techers who take a term to go explore a different part of the world.

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research

Weekend 1

The first week in Japan was… quite challenging. Even though I was at work most of the time, I still had enough time in which I was left on my own to get the hang of things. One of these things I had to do was successfully communicate with the cashiers at the konbini.The first time I went to the konbini to buy a meal, I didn’t know that you had an option of letting them heat the food, and the 30-second conversation that occurred for me to learn about that somehow managed to involve three languages: Japanese, Chinese and English. In addition, I had to figure out was what to do during the weekend – should I head off to Tokyo on the first weekend or should I see more of what Tsukuba had to offer? Despite advice from Kou-san to do something on one day and rest for the other, I ended up going around Tsukuba and going to Tokyo during that weekend.

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global

Soldering for DDR Mats

One of the last steps of building the DDR mats is getting a circuit board to connect a mat to a computer. One of the easiest ways is to buy a cheap USB game controller, solder wires to the contact points on the circuit board, and then connect the wires to the DDR mat.

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research

My Research Environment

I wake up and throw a glance at my alarm clock - it’s 9:00 AM, the start of another wonderful day in my summer research adventure. Rather than groan at the thought of going to lab, I eagerly jump out of bed and start getting ready to spend the next eight hours in Schlinger Laboratory.

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research

Audio and Video Editing

Every year for rotation, some houses make a house video to show the prefrosh more about house life and culture (it’s also fun to make a video!). I organized a few short clips for my house video and ended up doing the video editing for them. I hadn’t done much video editing before, but fortunately, there’s quite a few simple video editors available for free. I did most of the editing in Openshot, which is possibly one of the simplest video editors for Linux. One of the best features (most likely a feature in nearly every video editor) is overlaying videos and images. Using GIMP, I could make an image with a transparent background, and then overlay it on the video in Openshot. I used this to make a simple HUD (heads up display) for a Nerf blaster clip.

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research

Green Onions Forever

We still have like 5 bunches of uneaten green onions left. Good luck, Roommate N! Please eat all of the green onions for us!

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clubs

VIP visit to Point 5

Eight weeks down, two weeks to go. Our time here at CERN is coming to an end and I am rushing to wrap up all of my work and document it. Even when one is piled up with work, exciting opportunities never fail to pop up while at CERN. This past Monday the two other Caltech summer students and myself, along with one of the postdocs in our group gave a VIP tour to the chef of the White House, William H. Yosses. He had met Professor Spiropulu at Harvard and was on vacation so he stopped by for a tour of the CMS detector and the SM18 magnet facility. It was incredibly exciting because not only did we get to go back down to the CMS detector at Point 5 on the opposite side of the ring, but we were acting somewhat as tour guides for the President’s chef. Both he and his husband came to see the detector and they were incredibly nice and just a pleasure to spend the afternoon with. They were really interested in all of the physics at CERN and I was impressed by how quickly they grasped what we told them.

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research

End of SURF

The normal schedule SURF program ended a week ago, so now I’m back at home for a month before fall terms starts. There’s still plenty of people at Caltech though; preseason sports just started and there’s a few people that started SURF late or took a vacation in the middle that are finishing up their SURF projects.

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research

The Happiest Place on Earth! Part 2

Disney during the day was awesome, but Disney at night is even better! We went to a couple different evening and night shows, and they all completely blew my mind. Just the shows alone would have been well worth the price of the park entrance ticket.

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research

The Happiest Place on Earth! Part 1

One of the most awesome things as a SURF student at Caltech is that the Student-Faculty Programs Office arranges and hosts activities for us! These events are usually geared to help people chill out from work and socialize.

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research

Democracy in Action

Today, Sandeep Pandey, a social activist, brought us to a small rural village and explained how the village governs itself. The village has one elected leader who is responsible for listening to the villager’s needs. The village recieves a small amount of money from the government that the leader then spends on various projects like paving roads and installing electriity to houses. Here in the village, we could see the caste system much more manifested than in the city. While a city’s organization prevents strict separation, the village allows for division by caste. Suprisingly, caste was a greater divider than religion in the village which was 65% Hindu and 35% Muslim. Lower caste members lived in separate sections of the village than upper caste members and cannot enter the homes of upper caste members or interdine with them.

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research

My First Free Summer Weekend

Hey all,

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research

Flying and Shaking

So this weekend I spent most of my time inside working, especially since there was a torrential downpour in Geneva. I went out to buy a bunch of chocolate early in the morning and planned on traveling around the lake, but then I got caught in the rain and my only goal was to get back to CERN without getting my chocolate soaked (chocolate is of high priority in Switzerland).

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culture

Night Hike at Salève

This past Thursday was one spectacularly exciting and eventful day filled with plenty of adventure and heroic feats. It all started when Cedric and I decided to go hiking with two other summer students after work. Seems harmless I know, but little did we know what would come, or really we should have but somehow common sense wasn’t on our side that day. The excitement began at lunch when the four of us got together to discuss our plans for that afternoon. It was at this point that we finally decided to hike up Mount Salève after work, despite having to start our hike at sunset. Perhaps our failure to foresee what was coming was due to the fact that we were distracted by a huge fire outside of the restaurant. By huge fire, I mean a small constant stream of smoke billowing out of a trash can after someone failed to extinguish their cigarette before throwing it out. The fire was fairly well contained but as good citizens we decided to save CERN from this conflagration by shuttling water in our water bottles into the trash can. It took around eight liters of water to put out the smoke since the trash can had basically been filled with a bunch of old cigarettes. So yes, this is how we saved CERN from the terrible cigarette fire of 2013, also why my water bottle now smells like cigarette smoke.

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clubs

Classical India

Over the next two days, we visited the ruins of an an ancient Indus valley civilization, learned about the Vedas, listened to a conert Sitarist, and learned some Bollywood dance.

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research

Homemade Pizza

Pizza is one of those foods that is pretty easy to make yourself but tastes infinitely better than the store-bought versions. Once upon a time, when I was in middle school, I decided to make pizza for a cooking project. Pizza seemed pretty easy to make: you just gotta mix some flour with water, dump some ingredients on top, then stick everything in the oven and forget about it. Middle-school me ended up making a pizza without too much fire or death involved (I set my oven mitts on fire, but that’s irrevelent).

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research

Silver Spoon

It was quite fun getting our farm boxes every week, but SURF is almost over and people are going home, so Friday will be the last day in a while that we will be getting ourfresh produce delivery. As a memoir, I’m going to dedicate this post to Farm Fresh to You! I’ll spam photos of the farm box we got over the summer, then talk about our experience with the service.

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culture

Liquified Fat and Protein

Cheese fondue is the food of Roommmate S’s homeland, so she’s been bugging everyone about making it for a while before Roommate N caved in and agreed to make it. I was still a bit skeptical about the healthiness of this meal because it’s carbohydrates dipped in liquified fat and protein, but Roommmate S couldn’t be stopped.

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research

Laser tag at Ultrazone and turtle pictures

Because the summer SURF program is almost over, the church I go to (Hill Community Church) decided to go play laser tag at Ultrazone. Each week or two this summer, we’ve had some kind of fun fellowship activity, like going out for dinner or having a picnic at Griffith Park.

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research

Architecture, Science, and Alternative Energy

On the third day of our search of India, we started off the day with a presentation about the architecture of Ahmedabad. The city was built by Ahmed Shah in the early 1400s and was later fortified with an outer wall. Multiple gates were built to allow access and also so that the Shah could monitor trade into and out of the city, as the Ahmedabad’s location along the river Sabarmati was a prime spot for trade. These gates stand to this day, and we would actually get to go see them later on in the program. Ahemdabad’s architecture is very varied, as the city is split into old Ahmedabad and “new” Ahmedabad, with the differences in building styles clearly visible between the two.

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culture

Dabney boat!

For Caltech’s Prefrosh Weekend last term, some people in my house decided to build a boat to give prefrosh a tour of Caltech. (The slogan was “See Caltech the way it was meant to be seen…from a boat!”) The best place to sail the boat is in Millikan pond, which is probably the deepest non-swimming pool body of water on campus - it’s somewhere between calf and knee level.

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research

Applesauce oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

Today we made applesauce oatmeal chocolate chip cookies! I had a jar of applesauce that I needed to finish by next week, so we substituted applesauce for all of the oil in the recipe. For some reason, the recipe had lots of oil but not very much butter, and it’s a lot easier to substitute applesauce for oil than for butter. Applesauce apparently makes the cookies softer and chewier, which I thought would be good since the last cookies I made were super super crunchy even on the inside. Since I’m living off campus next year (only around 5-10 minutes away by walking) and won’t be on a food/board plan, I have to practice cooking over the summer. Also, next year, cookies will be a good way to convince people to come over and visit me off campus!

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global

Hotpot

Roommate S had wanted hotpot for the longest time, but we always had been too busy/had a constant food source during the school year to bother to do anything about it. During the summer however we had no board dinners and ample free time–along with the discovery that there’s a bus line that goes straight from Caltech to 99 Ranch, an large asian supermarket, we didn’t have an excuse to put off having hotpot anymore.

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global

DDR Mat Diagnostics

Over the summer, we’ve been setting up Dance Dance Revolution every Friday and Sunday night. During the school year, we usually only play on Friday nights, but since no one has any homework or sets over the weekend in the summer, we’ve added Sunday nights as well. Last Sunday was the first day we tested our homemade DDR mat extensively.

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global

Yakatate!! Japan(ese Milk Bread) Chapter 2

Because I wasn’t too satisfied with the results of last time’s baking, I decide to try making Japanese Milk Bread again. This time, I played it safe and used bread flour instead of a mix between all-purpose flour and bread flour… The difference between all-purpose flour and bread flour is that bread flour contains more wheat protein, which, when added to water, forms gluten. Gluten is a protein that contributes to the chewiness and elaciticity of the bread–kneading the dough helps facilitate gluten formation and also makes the gluten molecules link together, creating a gluten matrix that shapes the bread. The gluten matrix also traps CO2 bubbles formed by the yeast and allows the bread to rise.

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research

A Week of InnoWorks

Hi everyone,

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research

Polymers... and Staircases?

Hi everyone, it’s been a while, I know. Japan has been a very busy (and fun!) time - work during the weekdays takes up quite a bit of energy, and the rest has been used up going to various places during the weekends. Since the work has been winding down a bit, I suppose now’s a good time for me to talk about it. :)

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culture

First DDR mat almost done!

We’re almost done building the first DDR mat! (Myprevious post about one arrow panel was actually written a week or two ago but wasn’t published for a while; we’ve made a lot of progress on the DDR mats since then.) It works well enough that we can play some songs on it; we just need to tweak the sensors a little, make the wiring neater, and add Start/Escape buttons. We haven’t tested it very thoroughly yet, but we’ll be playing on it tomorrow and should be able to work out any sensitivity problems soon. Here’s a picture of the almost completed DDR mat:

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research

SURF GUI

Recently I’ve been working on writing a GUI for my SURF project. I’m using Tkinter, the standard GUI for Python. I didn’t program before coming to Caltech, so I took CS 1, the intro programming course, during first term. During the course, we covered a little bit of Tkinter; mainly drawing things on the canvas, like making a bunch of bouncing balls bounce off the edges of the canvas. Making a GUI for user input uses different “widgets” than drawing moving objects, but there’s plenty of documentation and examples online that are very helpful. Additionally, the module tkFileDialog comes with standard functions to create the Open and Save dialogs. It did take me some time to realize, though, that I had accidentally made several widgets children of the wrong frame, so they wouldn’t format correctly. Currently, my GUI looks like this: It will most likely look different by the time I’m done, though, since I’m planning on adding some more features. There’s currently three main input methods: Knotilus, Plink/SnapPy, and Seifert data. Knotilus is a database of links, while Plink/SnapPy is an open source python program that allows a user to draw a link by using mouse clicks. The program interprets the input and outputs an associated quadratic form as a square matrix. When combined with the other SURF student’s code (he’s working on the same project), it will output the Heegaard Floer correction terms, an invariant for 3-manifolds. An invariant is a charactersitic that tells things apart, like species or microchip implants in animals. Different objects can have the same invariant value, though a single object, even after certain transformations, can only ever take one invariant value. For example, multiple animals can all be the same species, but a single animal, even after being relocated or growing, is still the same species. Invariants for 3-manifolds are used to tell different 3-manifolds apart from each other, which is especially useful in topology. Heegaard Floer homology, which includes the correction terms we’re computing, is all about invariants for certain types of 3-manifolds.

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local

Pluot

We got some pluots in our farm box the other day, which is super exciting because I’ve never had a pluot before. A photo of the food for the week; we got one of the small-sized boxes for this week because we had SPECIAL DINNER PLANS, so there’s not that much food in it. What even is a pluot anyway? Wikipeida tells me that it’s some arbitrary mix of apricot and plums, but that doesn’t tell me anything. I like both apricots and plums, so, at the very least, it shouldn’t be terrible. Anyhow, here are some close-up shots of the pluot. The type of pluot we recieved is named Dapple Dandy or Dinosaur Eggs. Apparently, this type of pluot is called Dinosaur Eggs because it looks mottled and kind of ugly on the outside.

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culture

Hobbies

Today, we will take a small break from photos of food and look at photos of random craft things…

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global

Basel

It is now the end of the weekend and it did not go quite as planned but was eventful nonetheless. My original plan was to go to Lyon and then go to the beach but our car ran a flat so I spent Saturday morning taking the car to the shop instead with the rest of the day at CERN working.

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research

NERF War 2

We had another NERF war yesterday in the South House basement! The basement is shaped roughly like a figure 8, with a courtyard in the middle of one of the loops. It’s where the South House laundry room, DDR room, Physics 8 lab, music rooms, group study rooms, and various South House storage rooms are located. Since it was a weekday, we only played for around an hour in the evening. Playing NERF in the SAC generally doesn’t disrupt anyone, and we usually only see people walking to the laundry room. This time, some other people were about to play laser tag in the SAC, so it was confusing figuring out which people to target!

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culture

LEIR/LINAC

This week has been incredibly productive and we are only half way through the week. We had a typical college student dilemma the other night. We have been staying at CERN untl 9 pm the past few nights, primarily to talk with Caltech people with the time difference. Turns out we hadn’t gone grocery shopping for a while and stores close here around 8 pm so we scrounged together a fantastic meal of a cup of rice, three eggs and a hand ful of tortellini to share among the three of us. We also had nutella which is really what got us through the night.

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Spotlight


culture

Caltech Food Tour

Caltech may be a small campus, but it has a large variety of food options. There are three main dining locations on campus — The Lee F. Browne Dining Hall, the Hameetman Center (which houses our beloved Red Door Cafe), and the Broad Café.

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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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