Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Juan Mini and Fast Poetry

A debate that had been going on since the Greek times: Is the speed of light infinite or finite? Empodecles first stated that light had a finite speed; he reasoned that since light was in motion, therefore it takes a certain amount of time to travel a distance. However, the famed Aristotle argued that light was caused by the presence of "something" and was not in motion. This debate continued from Greek times until the speed of light was first measured in 1676 by Romer. Galileo had tested for the speed of light before by blinking a lantern as he covered more distance, but the distance he traveled was too short, thus the speed of light seemed instantaneous; however, he did conclude that if the speed of light was finite, it had to be incomprehensibly fast. Romer observed that the time for Jupiter's moon lo was shorter when it was approaching Earth and relatively faster when receding.

As young scientists, we were given the difficult task of measuring the speed of light. Our equipment was limited according to what Bill told us, we used: an oscilloscope, three diodes, a laser pointer, a mirror, electronics, and our abilities to read data. We could have used much better equipment, but Bill wanted us to experience the difficulty of trying to measure the speed of light. My group especially struggled because we had technical difficulties before we actually measured it. One of our diodes blew up because of internal wiring in our oscilloscope. Essentially, we measured the difference of time that it took for a light (used laser) to travel from one sensor to another. We used a mirror to reflect the initial ray and point towards the other sensor. The problem was that the speed of light is so fast and there's so much interference, that we weren't able to get concise data that we could find the difference in. It is literally so fast that we were unable to tell the difference between the first signal and the second signal. After tampering with our variables and setup, we were finally able to measure the speed of light. One group already measured the speed of light up to three significant figures (the max) and we measured 2.4E6 meters, when the most accurate number is 2.99E6.

We also had a guest speaker today - Ken Lande. Many of my friends thought that his voice was boring and his lecture was dry, but I disagree. Much of his lecture seemed like review, but he made it interesting through his analogies. His lecture consisted of the history of particles, the qualities of particles, and their interactions. It's insightful to know that there were only three known particles at the time - protons, electrons, and "neutrinos" - and now it has involved to a mother-load particles practically using all of the Greek alphabets. I asked him about the graviton during Q&A and his analogy was interesting. Much like the electromagnetic force uses electrons to cause the reaction of a material repelling one parallel to it, the gravitational force uses gravitons to cause a reaction similar to that. By measuring the effect of it, we can theorize properties of the graviton. 

After class, I decided to work on my spoken word piece that I will be performing on Friday for Summer Discovery. I haven't really talked about my interest in poetry and literature in this blog, but with my spare time, I like to juggle around between programming, poetry, and socializing. Today, I chose to write some poetry. Spoken word is essentially slam poetry - it's meant to be vocalized, not read. I just gotten into it last year, but I'm performing whenever I am given an opportunity such as this Friday. I had originally planned to write about the Zimmerman case, but since it was too controversial, I decided to write about my experiences with spoken word. I'm satisfied thus far, but I want to make it better. I'll be sure to have someone record it when I perform.

Other than that, I went mini-golfing for the first in my life! I know that golf is one of the more technique-orientated sports, but I wasn't expecting anything too difficult from a sport with "mini" in it. I expected it to be easy, which it was. I wasn't wonderful at putting, but I wasn't the worst. Surprisingly, I scored 7th out of 10 people!

This week is the Superbowl for the Summer Discovery RCs. Everyday, one RC goes against another and we, the students, vote on who we want to win that match. It's just a voting game, but we took it to a whole new level. We had a secret bomb ready. They're not going to expect it. They thought we were going to take it easy and let nature decide who wins the game, but we took the initial. We're posting "Vote for Juan" notes and posers all over the dorms, hoping to get good enough laughs out of people so that they will vote for Juan. It might backfire on us, but this is going to be fun. By the way, Juan is my RC. He's Juan funny guy. Also, we pull a lot of Juan puns... everyday.

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