I went hiking this weekend with a group of 10 other Techers to Kelso Dunes.These dunes are known for “singing sand”. It’s part of the Mojave Desert about 3 hours drive from Caltech. Hiking uphill was quite the workout, especially with our backpacks.
There’s a lot of science behind the sand dunes. For example, there are various physics theories about why the sand dunes “whistle”.Caltech’s Professor Melany Hunt studied these sounds using radar. I learned a lot throughout this trip. One of the Techers who came told me that the dunes “farted” in the tone of G. Someone else also mentioned that the dark patterns on the sand is caused by iron. The wavy patterns are caused by wind blowing over the sand, and sometimes they lithify and form layers of different wiggly patterns. I also learned that these dunes are moving leeward, which means that the wind is hitting the sand from above.
The sand was really comfortable;it was sofine and soft. I got the chance to roll off the sides of the sandy dunes as well as slide down them backwards. Jumping off the sides of the dunes results in a painless drop and I got to hear the sand sing, except it was more of asilly farting noisethan the word “sing” suggests.
We packed a lot of water, snacks as well as blankets.
Thanks to Caltech’s photography club, we got to borrow several really nice cameras for the trip.
We navigated in the dark, relying on headlamps and phone flashlights. Once we got to the top of the dunes, we waited for sunrise. It was really nice because we had the whole expanse of sand to ourselves.
I got sand everywhere: between my molars (mmm crunchy), in my socks, in my eyes… My legs and back were also super sore the next day, but it was #worth.
Starting college can be a big transition. You’re moving to a new place, starting a new school and classes, and faced with making new friends in an unfamiliar environment. And, of course, there’s that whole “becoming an adult” thing. But, you’re also leaving a lot behind. Every new beginning means that an old chapter must come to an end. Leaving behind our friends at home may seem difficult, especially if they’re going to be a long distance away from you during the school year. Something I made sure to do was to spend a lot of time with them during the summer after high school. Of course, going to college doesn’t mean you’ll never see your friends again, or that you will no longer be friends with them. Good friendships will last if you put effort into them. It may seem hard initially. Coming into Caltech, it’s a sharp adjustment and many are caught up in the excitement of Orientation, Rotation, and starting classes. It may be hard to remember to check your phone frequently and to make time for phone calls and such. Rest assured that if you have other friends going to college, they’re probably going to go through similar things you will. In this transition period, it can feel like you’re going to immediately lose touch with people that mean a lot to you.
Let’s face it: the US loves being just a little different from everyone else. The obvious example? Units of measurement. As an international student from Canada, even I have no clue what’s going on half the time when my friends talk to me and use these weird nonsensical units. And I’ve literally lived on the border between Canada and the States for all my life. After a year here, I’ve finally got a sense of how the two systems of measurement compare and how you can more easily get your bearings with these weird units.
After a year spent in “soft-lockdown” at home in Atlanta, and as Caltech students prepared to finally return to campus, I was aboard an eight hour flight towards Edinburgh, Scotland. Since my junior year plans were interrupted by the virus who shall not be named, I’m spending my first term of senior year studying abroad through the Caltech - Edinburgh University International Exchange program. I’ve only been here just over a week yet have been exposed to so many new people, perspectives, foods, and classes.
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!