Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Summer Nights in Philly

Class today was a bit different from the usual routine, since we had two guest speakers instead of one, and we worked on group projects instead of assigned labs. Although the rest of the day was not as intense as other ones, Craig did start us off with a weird lesson about special relativity and time. So it turns out that time is never the same for everyone, since it is relative. In other words, time depends on the motion of an observer, based on what the observer is seeing. It was not as easy as I thought to fully take in and accept that sort of information early in the morning, but it was one of the most interesting lectures that I have ever attended to. I mean, how mind-blowing is that? My Physics teacher from last semester had tried to cram in a few lessons on special relativity in the last few days of class, so we were not able to go in depth on the material. Being able to learn more about such a complex subject definitely made today's class experience even more enjoyable for everyone. Soon after, we were blasted with a bunch of cool physics terms that Mary helped us define, such as quarks and the Plum Pudding Model. 

From Charlie's Presentation
Our first speaker was Charlie Johnson, who is currently in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, and is the director for the Nano/Bio Interface Center. I really enjoyed his presentation, which was focused on his studies towards programming chemical detection by using graphene. For example, they are currently trying to use engineered protein and DNA functionalization to detect targets related to environmental monitoring, biological medicine, and even homeland security. Our next speaker's presentation was just as remarkable as Charlie's. Bob Johnson introduced some exciting concepts about DNA and computational nanotechnology. My favorite part of that lecture was when he showed us an animated clip of all the work our cells are capable of inside our bodies. The clip also played the most unnecessarily dramatic music (not saying I didn't like it though). 

Class was also an especially exciting day for all of us, since we all worked on our experimental projects in lab today! My group and I chose to do an experiment on the transmission of light through two polarizing filters, and it was the best decision we have ever made. Although we started off the project with a bumpy start, our instructors quickly guided us through it, and we ended up with amazing results and data (all thanks to Mary and her genius ideas). 
Polarized Filters and Lenses Experiment
After class, two members from my group, Kamal and Shafay, came over to my dorm to discuss our project plans for Hershey Park. We chose the roller-coaster ride that we were going to experiment on, and researched some information that we had to find about the ride. Somehow, we ended up getting a bit too excited over our Friday plans at the amusement park, so now we have a long list of rides we're going to go on after we finish our experiment. By the time that they both left, more than half of the people in the program were gone; they were either at the Union Game or out for Philly Cheese steaks. Once again, there were no more spaces left for either events, so I ended up staying in my dorm for a while as I tried to crack open and observe the insides of my poinsettia solar dancer. After several failed attempts, I decided to leave my little dorm companion alone, and prepared to hit up the gym. 
Night jog in the beautiful University City of Philly = One amazing experience
One of the best things that I like about Penn is how convenient everything is. The Penn Recreational Center was only one block down from the Quad, and I was so excited to finally check out the David Pottruck Health and Fitness Center. Once you step foot in there, you'll never want to leave. The building had all sorts of fun stuff like a rock climbing area, a pool, and the weight room, where I started off with a few warm-ups. Work outs and thirty-minute jogs around the block does amazing things to your soul. The weather outside was just perfect for a night run, and I ended my exercising session feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. What a perfect way to end the night and reflect upon my amazing day. 

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