Friday, July 11, 2014

Bowling Balls & Bugattis

What a day. Class started off amazing as always, while Bill prepared us for our lab, which was scheduled earlier than usual. He began by lecturing more about charges, attraction, and how to use a lab instrument called an Oscilloscope. I was very excited to work with this tool since I have never even seen or used anything like it before in Physics Lab back at my school. The purpose of the instrument was to give us accurate and precise data when measuring the speed of sound and electricity. The fancy and high-tech equipment was not as difficult to use as I thought, and our groups members all became more familiar and comfortable with the Oscilloscope. One of the other tools that we had to use was a wooden mallet, so we could hit a wood block next to the Oscilloscope's sensors in order to find the speed of sound. Ben, a member of my group, struggled to resist the temptations of using the mallet for all the wrong reasons, so he started acting as Thor, a hammer-wielding lightning god. It was a fun and successful experiment, but lab was not the only thing we were looking forward to that day. 
Top Left: 1975 Alfa Romeo 33 TT 12; Top Right: 1970 Porsche 917 LH; Bottom Right: 1966 Ford GT40 MK II
Our lunch break was given an hour earlier to us, since the class would be leaving on a bus together for the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum! We boarded the bus at 12:30 PM, and arrived at the museum in a matter of minutes. After an introduction that was given to us about the Simeone, we walked around briefly for only half of the museum, and stopped in the center for a super intense relay race "experiment". There were bowling balls and brooms set out for us, along with practice tracks as we warmed up for the relay race. The objective of this game was to brush the bowling balls with our brooms to control it and guide the balls along a track. Although starting off with a simple track of a straight line was not as difficult at first, moving the ball was actually a lot harder than it looked once we had to follow circular and curvy paths as well. The bowling balls represented inertia, while we were the vectors that controls the ball's movements. After practicing with our respective teams (lab groups) on test tracks, we were ready for the real deal. Well at least we thought we were. 

Intense Relay Race

Everyone gathered around the race track for the relay race, as each team went up against each other to see who could complete the track the quickest. There were a number of rules, and for each rule that we break, there would be inflicted penalties of extra minutes added onto our time record. For instance, we were only allowed to brush the ball in strokes. Brushing the bowling ball sideways, going outside of the track lines, and dragging the ball along with our broom was prohibited. We all ended up getting penalized and broke the rules anyway (although my team member prefers the term "strategic cheating"), so the relay race turned into an intense and aggressive "fight to the death" sort of thing. However, the museum's special treats of soft pretzels and "water ice" (Italian Ice) cooled us all down eventually, as we toured the museum and stared in awe at the legendary vehicles on display. 

They were all kinds of classic sports cars with prices ranging from twenty-thousand to millions of dollars. The museum had some of the original racing winner models on display, and plaques with historical facts were also available to us so we could learn all about them. An interesting fact was how each country used to color-code the cars that they manufactured, making it easy to tell where each vehicle was made from. Bill was also a car fanatic and could never get enough of the museum. He knew everything about each model and I really enjoyed all of the information he shared on the pros and cons of different designs, and the physics behind car racing. 

Mango Flavored "Water Ice"

At around 4:30 PM, we arrived back in UPenn, and grabbed a quick dinner in the dining hall before meeting up in the Quad for a Movie Night activity. We were given a choice of three movies to watch at the Rave theater down the block, and I chose Tammy......along with 100 other students. Summer Discovery actually bought out the entire theater for Tammy since we sold out all the tickets! While I was walking back to campus with Julia Mason and Julia Shebek, we got sidetracked and started catching some fireflies on the fields. I even set myself a new record for holding a bug before finally freaking out and letting them go. It was yet another eventful day, and being in New York tomorrow would be just as exciting!

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