Tuesday, July 8, 2014

"It Ain't Math"

Class is continuously getting better everyday. This morning's lecture went more in depth on fundamental physics, as we discussed more vocabulary terms, and were introduced to some equations as well. Craig, another instructor, lectured for the beginning of our class and gave us a few facts about Isaac Newton, a physicist and mathematician, who was known for being one of the most influential figures in our advancements in science. As a boy, Newton was always bullied by his classmates while he was in high school, but that was the reason why he was inspired to improve in his academics. He decided that the only way that he could win the battle between his bullies and himself was to become better than them, and work hard to be the top student in his class. And ever since he made that vow, Newton never scored less than a perfect on his exams. I find his story to be very moving and motivating, since he was strong enough to rise above and overcome the barriers that set him back from becoming a better person. Bill Berner lectured us next, and he showed us several demonstrations of inertia and forces. He also presented a slideshow of car museum pictures that we will be going to this Friday as a class, to learn more about inertia. Believe it or not, there is a lot of physics involved in the production of sports cars. 

During our short break right after the lecture, I met one of my classmates: Kamal. He is a commuter student, which basically means that he is a part of the Summer Discovery Program and takes classes at UPenn. But instead of living in the dorms with us, he goes back home after his classes, since he lives right in Philadelphia. Kamal was a very open and interesting person and we got along very quickly. 
Bill Berner getting excited over his own Physics lecture
When we all settled back into our classes, we had Bob Hollobeek (Physics professor and guest speaker) come in and lecture us about a new discovery called the PET Scanner to help cancer patients. The PET Scanner is currently being worked on by himself and a few of his colleagues in hopes of improving our technology to treat people with cancer. This particular method of treatment targets only cancer cells without inflicting any damage to the rest of the human body, which makes it a lot more effective than chemotherapy. It was a real privilege for me to learn about this wonderful new medical advancement. I have no doubt that this discovery will be successful in improving our world.

We walked towards the Houston Hall for lunch and I was able to bond with a few of my lab group members, Jerry and Eric. I learned that Eric and some other students took a Physics class in their Freshmen year, and have never taken another one until now. I was very impressed by how quickly they caught up with the curriculum and their ability to remember all those concepts from years ago. In addition to a great bonding experience, I was also able to try the famous Insomnia Cookie for the first time. It was just as amazing as everyone said it would be.

During Bill's lecture, I was particularly interested in his own interpretation of the study of physics, when he said, "It ain't math." He really emphasized the importance of actually learning the material and understanding physics in a more realistic way rather than incorporating numbers and formulas to find answers. Although using our knowledge of mathematics is a large part of the curriculum, his main goal for us was to use our knowledge of Physics and relate it back to our world. After more lecturing on inertia, velocity, and motion, we were ready to begin our lab on work and impulse. My group and I worked diligently as we used an ultrasonic motion detector to record a low-friction glider's position, velocity, and momentum. I had a great time using such nice lab equipment for our experiment, since equipment and tools as advanced as that are rarely offered for us in my high school's laboratories. 
My Lab Group > Your Lab Group
After class, my group members and I planned to meet up together to finish some homework. However, Eric had to go to an activity, and Ben had trouble setting up the internet, which left Jerry and I at a Starbucks as we worked on the questions together. 
My Pointsetta "Solar Dancer"
Now, I am just staring at this little solar powered "dancer" that Bill made us take to observe and hypothesize the science behind the object. Today was just full of surprises and learning, and I am positive that class tomorrow will be exciting and thought-provoking as well! 

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