Thursday, July 11, 2013

"As this pomp shows to a little oil..."

The pomp in The Life of Timon of Athens shows the charge of electrons. We began class by choosing groups for the field trip tomorrow. We chose groups and rides. M group went second. In my group: Connor, Andrew, and Jun (in addition to me). Since Jun said that he'd be willing to ride anything, we chose Storm Runner. I am glad that we have a Guinea pig. We also learned about the equipment we will be using. We will be using a three axis accelerometer. It was interesting to learn how it worked. We tested them by riding the elevators, probably only slightly less extreme than roller-coasters. I should be able to take the exported data, and from that make a 3D animation of the ride. Hopefully the data will be good enough for that to work correctly.

After a short break, the experiment we would do in the afternoon was introduced. The purpose of the Millikan Oil Drop experiment is to measure the charge on individual electrons. To do this, minuscule (on the order of molecules) droplets of oil are suspended in front of a microscope. While the droplets are too small to see with the microscope, light is diffracted by them and they can be observed. We could time how long a given droplet took to fall a certain distance. Then we could turn on some charged plates, and then time how long they took to go upward. We could plug this information into a complex equation, and from there get the charge on the droplet. We could do this several times, and then from there see if the charges had common denominators.
The Millikan oil device

After this, we had a former Experimental Physics student and current Penn student come in and talk to us. He encouraged us to think about what we like and do not like about the class so far. Personally, I really like that it answers my questions about how the world works. This will be invaluable in being applied to programming. However, I like the demonstrations and lectures much more than the labs. I am not sure that I would enjoy research. I like to know stuff to apply to other areas, but I am less interested in devoting enough time to discovering new physics. In the future, I definitely will want to learn more physics. However, I am unsure that I would want to become a physicist.

After this, we had lunch. We then did the oil drop lab. After this, I returned to the dorm for a quick bit of coding. I had dinner, then I had to go to a mandatory meeting about admission to Penn. I thought that while the ideas were good, I had heard much of it before and it took way too long for the amount of information conveyed. After the meeting, I coded some more. I was looking into caching obstacle positions with quadtrees. 

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