Monday, July 14, 2014

The Full Prison Experience

Our physics class jumped right into lectures of particle duality and light diffraction of waves first thing in the morning today. It was a very interesting topic to discuss since we also learned about blackbody spectrums and radiation—both if which I had never learned before. We also had an amazing guest speaker for the day, called Ken Lande, who gave us quite a thought-provoking discussion about the total amount of energy being used all around the world, and the drastic depletion of energy sources, such as petroleum. His slideshow presentation of energy usage statistics generated a great amount of curiosity in me. Humans have been carelessly using all sorts of energy for years and years, but only a small percentage of us are actually aware of the increasing numbers of usage and the decrease in our resources. And even then, there is only a fraction of people of that small percentage who know of the solutions to this issue. Ken showed us several ways to help benefit our environment and protect our resources by using renewable energy, such as wind and solar-powered technology.
Eastern State Penitentiary
After a tedious, yet successful, lab experiment with the oscilloscope to prove Ohm's Law and collect data for Planck's Constant Law, Isabel and I headed to the dining commons for dinner, and planned on staying inside the dorms for a mellow night of homework and relaxation. But when Shafay, one of my classmates, asked if we were going to the Eastern State Penitentiary activity at 6:00 PM, I suddenly realized that there was no way I was going to pass that opportunity. The spots for the activity were already filled up when I tried to sign up for it, but the wonderful people who ended up bailing granted some spots for me and a few others to go as well. 
Left: Common Prison Cell; Right: Al Capone's Cell
The weather as we left for the Eastern State Penitentiary started off with cloudy skies and light rain, but it rapidly transitioned to thunder, lightning, and pouring rain once we arrived for the tour. It was the perfect timing, if I may say so myself, since it totally added towards the full effect of being in a creepy and eerie former prison (I think I actually heard an owl...). The features of the prison included castle-like structures, dank walls, and dark hallways—all of which were supposed to frighten people from committing crimes. The 185 years-old-prison was originally constructed to be a disciplinary institution where criminals can reflect on their bad decisions and improve themselves as a person. However, the creators' original goals were backfired when the criminals actually sprouted more ideas and methods to start violence within the prison walls. As a result, prisoners faced harsh treatments and punishments, such as solitary confinement. Our last stop for our tour was at Al Capone's prison cell, which gave us all a surprising ending to our visit. While every other cell in the penitentiary were identically bare and dirty with dark-lit rooms and crumbling walls, Al Capone's cell looked luxurious in comparison. 

Going on this activity gave me a chance to not only tour one of Philadelphia's most famous landmarks, but it also allowed me to get to know more people in the program as well. One of my Physics classmates, Parteek, and I even started talking about starting a band. He used to play drums for a band back at home, and the more we fantasized about it, the more unrealistic it seemed. I mean, there was no way that we could constantly travel across the world and meet up together. Imagine my surprise when I found out that he's actually from Cupertino, San Jose! 
The drive back to UPenn
Once we arrived back at UPenn, we stepped out of the bus to heavy rain and thunder. The storm was so strong that a severe storm warning was actually issued out to the students, so a group of us hustled over to one of the lounges in the dorm to evade the weather. My day concluded with a satisfying game of poker in the lounge, and a blissful feeling of another day well-spent in the East Coast. 

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