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caltech q and a

In order to get a good sense of the Caltech community, there is no better way than to talk to the students themselves. To give a little bit of an inside perspective of Caltech, I asked some students a variety of questions. Questions ranged from conspiracy theories to Caltech-specific takes and other random topics.

Are birds real?

  1. “They’re real drones. That’s why they stand on telephone poles – to charge.” – EZ
  2. “No. They’re not real. Where do they live? I’ve never seen one sleep. I’ve never seen one at night. I’ve never seen the same one twice. I don’t trust that they have circulatory systems at all. It doesn’t look like blood is moving through it. They are too close to dinosaurs to be real life forms and therefore are government surveillance or aliens.” – LG
  3. “Birds came from eggs. I’ve never seen a small pigeon in my life. I think that’s strange. I’ve also never seen a small seagull. There are types of birds that are fake and types of birds that are real. They go off of birds that are real – chickens – and use them to make birds that aren’t real – pigeons. You can tell off of their neck – they are reflective. Mark Zuckerberg made the birds. Mark zuckerBIRD.” – EF
  4. “Yes they are real, although I could be persuaded to believe the government conspiracy theory.” – CP
  5. “Yes. Of course. Do I need to tell you more about the phylum, kingdom, domain business?” – SK
  6. scratches head “Yes?” – EL
  7. “Yes. Well, whether or not we call them birds is kind of arbitrary.” – VN
  8. “No. Duh. In an era of drones and surveillance do you really think that birds exist? No. Birds are government-controlled spy drones.” – DA
  9. “I mean I know where you’re going with this but I won’t ask you to define real. Are birds physical objects that we see and exist in some form? Are birds actually animals vs. government drones? That I don’t know, probably not. I’ve eaten enough chicken in my life for that to be unlikely. I’m well aware of the birds aren’t real conspiracy. Maybe birds that don’t fly are real. In the meta sense, birds are an illusion in the way that everything else we perceive is an illusion. There’s no way to know if we really exist or the world outside your perception exists. If a bird flies away out of your sight, is it still real?” – MG

Would you rather only eat Red Door Turkey Bacon Avocado sandwiches for the rest of your life or go vegan permanently?

  1. “I’m, like, anti-vegan. I’m also, like, anti-Red-Door. I guess veganism, but I’d only eat the fake meat. A carnivorous anti-vegan. Are humans considered vegan? Like cannibalism?” – EZ “Not if you eat a vegan.” – AA
  2. “This question is redundant because nothing in those Red Door sandwiches counts as meat.” – LG
  3. “I’d do turkey bacon avocados and it’d be a short life because I’m allergic.” – HB
  4. “Red Door turkey bacon avocado sandwich. Literally anything with meat is better than going vegetarian.” – JL
  5. “Turkey bacon avocado. I’d do a lot worse than that.” – BG
  6. “Go vegan permanently. 100%. While veganism doesn’t offer a lot of options, it’s certainly more than turkey bacon avocado for the rest of your life.” – AL
  7. “Veganism? So I can’t sit in a car with leather seats?” – EL
  8. “Red Door because I hate vegetables. Most vegetables. I like lettuce. Specifically. And carrots.” – VN
  9. “Vegan. I can’t eat the same thing for too long.” – MG

If you could only wear one color for the rest of your life what would it be?

  1. “Black. I’d just go emo.” – AA
  2. “This color. Say like a dark gray or light black. I’ve only been wearing one color.” – EZ
  3. “Beige. That’s so sad. One color? I couldn’t.” – SK
  4. “Gray. I don’t know. I like gray.” – AL
  5. “Green. I like it. It’s not my favorite color, which is blue, but I like green stuff.” – VN
  6. “I guess black. You can do a lot with black. I feel that any garments or bodily adornments can work with black. It’s a very neutral color. It doesn’t clash with anything. Since you can’t get creative with the colors, you can get creative with the shapes.” – MG

Is Mark Zuckerberg a lizard?

  1. “Do robotic lizards count as lizards?” – EZ “Yes.” – Interviewer “Then yes.” – EZ
  2. “Yes. And further, lizards aren’t real (see aforementioned reasons for birds). Birds are a subset of lizards. If you look at them hard enough you can tell.” – LG
  3. “No, he’s just a plant for big sunscreen.” – CS
  4. “Yes.” makes lizard sound – JL
  5. “I’d hope not. Hopefully the company is run by someone with a brain.” – SK “Don’t lizards have brains?” – Interviewer “Oops.” – SK
  6. “I can neither confirm nor deny this information.” – AL
  7. “Yes. He has this blank stare in his eyes. Reptilian.” – VN
  8. “Define is. Ok yes. I mean, it’s like the difference between == and the ‘is’ keyword in Python. Mark Zuckerberg == maybe not, Mark Zuckerberg is, maybe not.” – MG

Do aliens exist?

  1. “I really don’t know. That’s a good question.” – AL
  2. “Yes. Statistically there must exist other life forms in the universe. Probabilistically? I’ll get back to you at the end of Math 3.” – SK
  3. “Yes. I think the US government just keeps them behind closed doors. They come from Seattle actually.” – VN
  4. “Probabilistically yes.2 – AB
  5. “Maybe. Anything is possible. The universe is a big place.” – MG

Buttons or zippers on all clothes? No bags! No velcro! Shoes don’t count.

  1. “Zippers. That’s so easy. Why would you want buttons; they take too long to put on.” – EZ
  2. “Let me guess, people who said buttons also went vegan.” – JL
  3. “I think buttons are more aesthetically pleasing. Nice looking buttons. Don’t make a face like that. Although, zippers are probably more efficient.” – SK
  4. “Zippers. Always. So much more practical. More smoother. It’s like a continuous line. Buttons are discrete.” – AN
  5. “Zippers have always kind of annoyed me, so I guess buttons. Zippers are too error-prone.” – VN

Favorite Greek letter.

  1. “God they’re all so squiggly. Capital A alpha (A).” – SK
  2. “I prefer delta (∆) cause it means change.” – EL
  3. “Probably sigma (Σ). I don’t think I need to specify why.” – AL
  4. “I was just thinking about this. I like psi (ψ). I’m in Phys 12b Quantum right now and we deal with a lot of psis.” – MG
  5. “Capital lambda (Λ). I like how symmetric and cleanly shaped the design is.” – VN

What’s your opinion on the Caltech squirrels?

  1. “I think you should find the grad students who started the email chain about the signup for the squirrels saying squirrel crossing and that they are endangered.” – SK
  2. “Some of them are more friendly than I’d like them to be. They’re too secure in themselves. I want them to be on their toes when I’m around.” – VN
  3. “I love them. They’re so round. They’re so cute. There are always a couple of squirrels that hang out in the Dabney courtyard and try to eat food from people’s backpacks. They still have a healthy fear of humans. They don’t eat too much.” – MG
  4. “They have a real attitude. Sometimes I’m walking outside and they’ll start yipping at me.” insert animal noises “Sometimes they’re just such a vibe. I see them lying flat. They stare you down. They’re a little scary . . . I think rats are cute. I don’t mind the rats. Look at its butt. It’s so big!” insert more animal noises – KL
  5. “They are too bold. I think they’re feral. I saw one freefall 30 feet once. Now I’m afraid one’s going to fall on my head. Imagine, concussed by a squirrel!” – BA
  6. “I saw [a freefalling squirrel] too. There was a splat sound. It was motionless for a bit. But then it got up.” – VZ
  7. “Personally, I come from Kentucky and there are a lot of squirrels there. The squirrels there are a lot bigger and meaner. In comparison, the California squirrels are pretty chill. I have yet to be attacked by one, so that’s positive marks.” – AA (Upon clarification, “yet” implies he does expect to be attacked by one.)

What’s your favorite three-dimensional shape?

  1. “The sphere. It has no hard edges.” – AL
  2. “The cube. I’m trying to think of something that’s a cube, but I can only come up with a rubix cube.” – EL
  3. “Please take out the part where I said the dodecahedron has 10 sides.” – SK
  4. “The cylinder but with a cross cap.” insert some mathematical jargon – VN
  5. “I like donuts. Touri are cool. They have interesting properties. Imagine if you had a planet that was taurus-shaped and somehow did not collapse under its own gravity. That’d be a cool place to live.” – MG
  6. “Icosahedron. Cause it’s got 20 sides and a bunch of triangles. That’s pretty cool. And it’s a platonic solid, which is also pretty cool.” – AA

Is the Bermuda Triangle real?

  1. “I think the government has set up a gravitational field to test things and that’s why things that go there don’t go down.” – AA
  2. “What’s the Bermuda Triangle?” – EZ (“He’s part of the government.” – AA)
  3. “It can’t be the only shape.” – LG
  4. “Yes.” – CP
  5. “I really like rhombuses. I wish it was a rhombus.” – EF
  6. “The Bermuda Triangle is a graphical location, so yes, it’s real.” – JL
  7. “Yes. I’d like to go find out more about it. I’d go swimming at the edge just to find where it starts. But then I’d have to go to Florida. I think?” – SK
  8. “No. Just no.” – AL
  9. “Yes. Yes. Yes. It’s real. No other comment.” – EL
  10. “No. What actually happens when ships go to that region? Remember when I said birds are real but we don’t have to call them birds? The birds eat the ships. They’re big birds.” – VN
  11. “In that there is a triangle that can be drawn between the three angles of the Bermuda Triangle, yes. In terms of the supernatural, who’s to say? Anything is possible. The universe is a big place.” – MG
Juni Polansky ’25

Hi I’m Juni, a junior from Baltimore, MD. I am majoring in bioengineering and minoring in English. I play on the women’s soccer team and run on the track team. In my free time, I like to read, play guitar, and paint.