So… ya know… I haven’t really posted in a while… but… yeah… Let’s leave that for now.
Thanks for all those emails telling me how awesome my blog posts are - it’s nice to know I’m not writing stuff that gets tossed into the big giant thing known as the internetz without being read. It’s honestly been a relatively slow period of the term, as you’ve read from some other bloggers, an awkward “inbetweenness”. This could be accounted for since we all just finished midterms/ getting the results of said midterms back. In my case, professors get lazy and release midterms a week later than the actual midterms week… But my midterms (two) went great - covering topics from Threshold High Energy Particle collisions, Perturbation theory, Relativistic Kinematics to Spherically Symmetric Potentials and talking about Angular Momentum and Linear Momentum measurements of electrons/bosons/pions/whatnot (Quantum Mechanically). Ahh, life of Physics majors. Speaking of Physics…
I’m writing this blog post on the back of finishing my first set in E&M for Ph106b (I’d imagine it’s comparable to graduate level, but don’t take my word for it). As you can see, I’m blatantly advertising my house - Venerable - on the back of Jessica Davis’s (astrophysics, Junior) sweatshirt. Also, we tend to get really loopy past midnight… Collaboration at Caltech is always fun since you get to socialize and learn at the same time in perfect harmony (experimentally-determined). So, lemme introduce some of the things I’ll talk about in this blog post…
Venerable House’s Formal Dinner
Olive Harvest “Linner”
Dinner with Mark Wise
Jurassic Park OPI progress update
There were two main food-related stuff that I’ve been a part of with my house. Formal Dinner and Olive Harvest “Linner”.
The first is Formal Dinner - a tradition that every house (and Avery) partake in each term. All houses have it on different days (not on the same day, and food differs always). Caltech Dining Services (CDS) prepares the food, provides the tableclothes, silverware, and centerpieces - we provide the well-groomed empty stomachs. Here’s the menu for second term’s Formal Dinner:
Starter: Butternut Squash soup with Creme Fraiche and Chive
Entree: Baseball Steak and Seared Scallop with Roasted Red Potatoes
Vegan/Vegetarian Entree: Eggplant and Artichoke alla Napoletana served with Mushroom and Sundried Tomato Risotto
Desset: Mascarpone Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta, Shaved Chocolate, Fresh Berries and Raspberry Coili
Vegan Desset: Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta, Shaved Chocolate, Fresh Berries and Raspberry Coili
I apologize in advance for not taking pictures of all the food before I ate it… I’m not used to taking pictures of food and then blogging about it… I think this is a good time to point out how well Caltech does with acommodations. I’ve mentioned it before with Housing situations - allergies and whatnot, but CDS also provides specialized meals for those of you with more particular diets as well as a separate dinner for vegan/vegetarian every weekday. In short - don’t let your specific needs dictate how you choose your colleges - Caltech will help meet your needs, NO MATTER WHAT.
Actually, really only the one picture - but the soup was delicious and looked awesome! It even had the fancy-writing “R” on it in homage to Venerable house. On that same night, we had “Installiations” [always mispelled it by tradition] of the new House Officers including Ath Team (sports), Soc Team (social events), Librarian (has to be lazy and keep the house library clean), Treasurer (rules our monies), Secretary (types everything and handles emailing the house and so forth), Vice President (creates Alley Challenges), and President (the face of our house).
Also, you might be wondering why the cake is “Install-Dethrone-K-Bitz-Iation”. Our ex-president is Daniel Kolodrubetz (or KBitz, Special-K, Ginger [he’s red-haired]); a senior in Physics. It was a hilarious joke. Also, I think the dinosaur has something to do with our OPI being dinosaur-related, but that could just be coincidence…
Olive Harvest "Linner"
Way way back before I started blogging - first term - we had an event called “Olive Harvest” which took place on the appropriately named “Olive Walk” at Caltech. Olive Walk is a long walk starting at the Athaneum and ending just before Millikan Library that is lined with Olive trees. Every time the trees start producing a crapload of olives, instead of hiring outside landscapers to get all the olives down so they don’t mess up the Olive Walk, Caltech gets all the students, grad students, and random people from the community to help collect olives. The end purpose is to make Olive Oil with these olives. In particular, all the student houses had a competition: whoever collected the most olives by weight would win $1000 for their house and a free dinner at President Chameau’s house. So guess who won? Venerable did! I have a hard time recalling but I think it was something like 800-900 pounds of olives from our houses - the next highest being around 600 pounds…
So we just had the Linner last week. We’ve called it a “linner” because it occured between lunch/dinner (around 3pm). So we got to the President’s house which is less than a minute away from Venerable - north of us. Here are some pictures of the event:
Here’s a picture of President Chameau talking with Rebecca Wernis (S’more, Physics) about how to play Petanque (a french game). The goal of the game was to start with a yellow ball - throw it to determine where you toss the metal balls next. The person who gets closest to the yellow ball (no restrictions about hitting it or other players’ balls) wins. Here’s the game in action…
Yellow ball’s been thrown.
And you start throwing metal balls… It’s a hard game, seriously. Even making the metal balls super-heavy, they’ve still got some bounce to ‘em. Here’s a snapshot of the rules if any of you are interested in playing as well (we played with “official Caltech” equipment - Caltech branded and all).
After this short activity to distract us while the food was cooking - the food finished cooking! Here’s some scenic pictures while I go find the list of food we ate…
So, here’s what we ate (can you identify the theme?)
Israeli Style Couscous
Roasted Eggplant with Tomato Confit
Lemon Oregano Chicken
Herbed Flat Iron Steak
Here’s what all (most) of it looked on a half-eaten plate (my apologies again).
And for dessert, we had a French Vanilla Ice Cream, Peach Pie with Blueberries and Strawberries.. (I think, wasn’t sure about the pie)…
Mark Wise and the Asian "Family" Dinner
When I say “Iron Man”, “High Energy Particles”, and “Nuclear Physics” - what do they have in common? Tony Stark (hey, he’s got my last name.. he’s totallyrelated to me.. I swear.. true story) and Mark Wise. Out of these two, Professor Wise is an actual person. Let’s talk about his Iron Man affiliation first:
Jeremy Latcham, Senior Vice President of Production at Marvel Studios and Co-producer for Iron Man 2, knew just who to call – the Science and Entertainment Exchange, a program of the National Academy of Sciences that connects experts in entertainment with experts in science and engineering.”Scientists can offer more than just simple fact-checking of scripts,” said Jennifer Ouellette, director of the Science and Entertainment Exchange. “Get them involved early enough in the production process and their input can be invaluable in developing not just the fundamental scientific concepts underlying a scene, but also – since film and TV are a visual mediums – scientists can help filmmakers more fully realize their visions on screen.”
“I went to Marvel Studios to meet with one of the film’s producers (Latcham) and even brought a graduate student along,” said Mark Wise, a theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena who served as a technical consultant for the film. “There was a specific set of scenes that I was consulting on; the story had to get from this point to that point.” Wise was surprised by Latcham’s and the film crew’s interest in the actual science, “I attempted to present the science in a way to the help the movie, but still get a little science in,” said Wise. “They wanted the scenes to look good, but they also wanted elements of truth in what they did, it was nice.” During a round-table discussion with Latcham and a few members of the film’s crew, Wise revealed some insider information.”They wanted to use the science to show what it (a particle accelerator) would really look like and they also wanted to do it in a way that was entertaining,” said Wise. “They even wanted to know the behind-the-scenes stuff – stuff that you wouldn’t see.” During a follow-up visit to Marvel, Wise met with Latcham and the film’s crew while they were building the set in Tony Stark’s lab. Wise also had a chance to meet with the film’s director, Jon Favreau, and view the set of scenes that he consulted on after they had been filmed.
Mark Wise is my professor for Quantum Mechanics (Ph125abc - all three terms) and is generally known for his quirky sense of humor, being overly self-confident, and giving away money when you answer his questions. Yes, every class, he always has money to give away for answering his questions… he’s just that awesome. As for the quotes, we’ve been compiling a list of his quotes for this year on a twitter account:https://twitter.com/MarkWiseSays. Just recently, he decided to take the whole class out to dinner to “give us some pleasure after experiencing pain [on the midterm exam he gave us]”. So he took us to this family-style Asian restaurant in Pasadena called “Panda Inn”. I have to admit, the food was SUPER DELICIOUS (and there was so much, even with 30 people).
There were grad students, his TAs, and lots of undergrads there to enjoy the night with him. The table in the back was also part of it (albeit not obvious). He basically ordered everything on the menu (and paid for it!) and we got to enjoy his company, jokes, and just relax after midterms.
And this is my plate, which consists of dishes like Beef and Broccoli, Baised String Beans, Ginger Sesame Asparagus, Honey Walnut Shrimp, Orange Chicken, Tea-Smoked Duck, and many others which I’ve failed to recall. And yes, I’m using chopsticks (until I get frustrated and fall back to using my fork like the American I am). This (and many more) is a reason why I love Mark Wise.
Jurassic Park OPI Update
So, over the past few weeks - we’ve experienced some rain to the point in which we had to take a day off because we can’t work when it’s wet. Apparently, electricity and water just don’t mix reasonably… Who knew? Up to this point, we’ve finished the 16-foot gate supports and will proceed to cover them with OSB, wallboards, and add on the humongous doors as well. We’ve also got a painted T-rex ready to be mounted over our dance floor. We’ve finished bracing up a majority of our elevated platforms and just started adding railings around the sides of them, and we also started work on the ground pieces for the fake electric fence. Here’s a photo montage to enjoy…
Here’s a picture of the T-rex in front of the 16-foot gate pieces (for comparison).
The gates are pretty much the same height as our two-story house!
A perspective picture of the elevated platforms sans braces at the end closest to the camera (we added them on after the picture was taken). From this angle, there’s over 20 feet of elevated walkway! You can also see the octagonal pieces we built for the birdcages.
Here’s a picture of Steve leaning on the railings to show just how sturdy they are already!
As you can see from the two pictures, we’ve been adding on more and more railings. Franz is simply checking out how sturdy they are after adding railing around the first birdcage piece.
Here’s a picture from the elevated platforms of how everything looks.. and it looks legen-wait for it-dary! Meanwhile, Art has been busy doing what they do best…
And this was the result:
It’s pretty darn impressive. Also, that’s Franz getting swallowed whole by the t-rex of my nightmares… Yeah.
The week after that - Art had finished up all the doors and pieces for the gate so it was on us (construction) to get those pieces up. So… we first went to go pick up some scaffolding from one of the other houses on campus who used it last for Big Interhouse. Then we went to work:
Here, Carly Bond and Franz are putting up a horizontal 2x4 that’ll hold the Jurassic Park sign.
Then Alex Wein and Franz started putting up the walls of the gate while I worked on the doors (that would go inside the gate). But first - we needed a lunch break after working hard (or hardly working…)
So Soc Team got us free food from In-n-Out which was pretty good. Then we went back to work.
Here’s a picture of what we’re doing in the back of the gate - building on the doors. You can see the painted doors on the left leaning against our birdcage platform. And here’s the almost-finalized result we have:
Pretty cool eh? For those of you nearby in the SoCal region (that means you Techers and Admission people who like to read the blogs), you should stop by, visit me in Venerable 216, and check out the party (it’s on March 5th, but if you wanna see it during the day, stop by beforehand or after the party before the term ends).
Here is another nearly finalized picture of the gates - with the doors we just finished!
Compare it to the picture from the movie…
Pretty close huh?Join me next time (most likely next week) as I talk about:
Undetermined Caltech-related academic stuff
Max Martin and why he’s awesome at rocking my life
Selected Topic in Physics for discussion (something that I’ve done some laboratory research for)
Hope you all had a GREAT Valentine’s Day and enjoy the three-day weekend! I know I will.
Like many students at Caltech, I suffer from a slight boba addiction, where side effects may include over caffeination, minor sugar highs, and of course, a large toll on one’s wallet. This addiction is not helped by the fact that there are at least three boba shops within walking distance of campus. So, after an entire term’s worth of boba runs, I came back from winter break with a new year’s epiphany: it was time to get a job. Rather than try to curb my addiction, I decided to find a way to subsidize it.
Research at Caltech looks different for every student, and can often vary term by term. As a chemistry major, my course requirements are on the lighter side for a Caltech major, and many chemistry majors take advantage of the lighter course load to join research groups. This can be whenever the student wants, but many people join labs during their freshman or sophomore years. Some may work in one lab only, and some may switch between labs during the course of their undergraduate studies, depending on if their interests change.
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.