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.
With the game ended, on Saturday after SURF presentations, a number of Darbs and I rolled out to Joshua Tree National Park (JTree) for a night of scrambling, stargazing, and freezing.
I guess you could say this place…rocks.*
Unlike parks I am accustomed to, JTree is mostly dry, sandy, and shrubby, with strange-looking trees dotting the landscape, which makes for a very quiet and serene night. We had not bothered with bringing tents (there really is no need for them at JTree), so unlike last time I camped here, we needed to make only one trip to the campsite with our belongings and did not have to struggle with setting up a tent.
However, since the region is practically a desert, the night time temperature drops very low, and many campers including myself found it difficult to sleep and instead went for a stroll under the full moon. While out on a trail, we discovered that there was noticeable geographic variation in temperature within approximately a mile of the campsite, but despite the abundance of moonlight, we could not identify exactly what warmed that area while the campsite was still frigid. On the other hand, inadvertently staying awake the entire night allowed us to watch the sunrise behind the rockpiles and mountains, for which I probably would not have woken up otherwise.
After a night of sleepless fun to conclude the week, I feel some strange combination of excitement and dread at the thought of this coming week’s workload, as I have an extra set due this week for Ph 219 - Quantum Computation taught by ProfessorJohn Preskill, who also taught Ph 12c - Statistical Mechanics last year. This class is especially neat because, as it is not offered every year, many professors (including my option adviser) are taking the class in addition to undergraduate and graduate students at Caltech–a testament to the small size of the Caltech community.
Of course, following the wise words “work hard, play harder”, I expect that some entertaining hijinks will arise that make the week more enjoyable and less stressful.
SURF, short for Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, is a quintessential experience for any Caltech student. It is a widely accessible research fellowship for Caltech students that funds your proposed research for one summer term. While many of my classmates did their first SURF the summer after their freshman year, I sent in my first application to the program as a sophomore. As a CS major, I was trying to chase meaningful work that intersected computation with the field of neuroscience. I ended up doing a SURF at the Stanford School of Medicine that first year, studying hand gestures in children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Since then, I’ve been working in the research space of applying computational analyses to ASD.
This summer, from the confines of my Brooklyn apartment, you could find me typing away on a tiny 13-inch laptop screen. At times I was looking for answers on countless Stack Exchange pages, editing a Jupyter notebook, or making blood flow measurements on a software called Arterys. This was my 2021 Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURF) experience.
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.