We have a dorm cat named Heisenberg in the alley I’m living in for the summer. (She’s a female cat though.) Apparently all the kittens in her litter were named after famous scientists. Her namesake, Werner Heisenberg, is possibly best known for the Heisenberg uncertainty principle in quantum mechanics. Chemistry 1a, a core class for freshmen, introduces this principle, and one of the core physics classes I’m taking next year will include an introduction to quantum mechanics.
From what upperclassmen have said, Heisenberg (the cat) is at least 19 years old, though no one is completely certain exactly how old she is. Heisenberg was born in Ricketts House, and then somehow ended up living in Alley 7 in Dabney. Since she’s so old, Heisenberg walks a little funny and generally isn’t that active. She has a litter box and food bowl at one end of Alley 7, and it’s a designated house job to take care of Heisenberg. Generally Heisenberg is the most alert when people are eating, and just sits there in the kitchen hoping for food with big eyes, kind of like the cat Puss in Boots in Shrek 2 except not quite as cute.
Since I’m usually in my room for most of the day when everyone else is at JPL or in lab, Heisenberg likes to come into my room and clean herself or fall asleep. Once inside, she rarely wants to leave, and it’s actually quite difficult to get her out of my room since she doesn’t like to be picked up. Nudging her usually makes her fall over and start licking herself again. Eventually, I decided to put up a piece of cardboard outside my door called a “Heisey-barrier” (Heisenberg has a lot of nicknames, including “Heisey”, “Heisen-cat”, and “kitty”) when I wanted her to stay out.
Heisenberg likes coming into my room.
Although Heisenberg can climb stairs, she almost never leaves Alley 7 except to go to the vet. From other people, I've only heard of her leaving Alley 7 by herself once during a vacation/break when barely anyone was around (she climbed down all the stairs to the rest of Dabney before someone put her back). Even though Heisenberg often pretends to ignore us, she actually tends to get lonely during the summer and vacation when less people are around. Sometimes she'll just sit and let us pet her, and it's always nice to have Heisenberg's company and see her wandering around Alley 7 all day.
Almost a year ago now, I was just about to start my first Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) at JPL. NASA had sent out an email to all of their summer interns containing a social media template to announce that we had been selected as NASA interns. Excited to show my NASA pride, I posted it on my Instagram story, unaware of what would come out of this small action.
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.
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:
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.