Wednesday, July 24, 2013


The cafeteria is far too wasteful. For example, the plastic cutlery all comes in one package - knife, fork, spoon, napkin, and straw. Most people will probably only use one or two of these. They have to get a completely new package each time. This morning, during breakfast, I got up to get some fruit. When I returned to my table, one of the staff there had picked up my cutlery to clean off the table. When I told them it was mine, they just told me to get some new cutlery. This culture of everything being disposable costs money and buries landfills.

After breakfast, it was time to ooblek. Oobleck is what we call the non-Newtonian fluid made from mixing water and corn starch. One of the interest groups investigated it, and today they made gallons of it. They made it in 4 large bins. I took off my socks and shoes, then ran across it. It was extremely cool. It looked like I would sink in, but my feet were hardly wet. It was quite a bit of fun. After playing with the oobleck, we had presentations. These presentations were on our exponential topics. I would say that our presentation went quite well. It was on Benford's law. The other presentations were on a variety of things, such as 100m olympic times or Moore's law. 

The nano building
After over 2 hours of presentations, we had lunch. After lunch, we broke into groups for lab tours. There were six different labs that we toured. Each groups started at a separate lab, then we rotated through. I thought that it was interesting to see the labs. They were mostly the labs of guest speakers, so we knew mostly what they were talking about. Here are the labs we visited:
  1. High energy. Somebody told us about the various projects in the high energy physics department.
  2. Soft matter. In this lab, somebody talked about soft matter - the matter on the line between solids and liquids, like shaving cream or oobleck. They use a bunch of tiny spheres suspended in water under a miscroscope to simulate particles.
  3. Blood flow. A light is shined through somebody, and the change in intensity is measured. It shines a specific wavelength of light that resonates with blood cells. This can measure blood flow, which is useful to get real time analysis of strokes.
  4. Nano building. Somebody gave us a tour of the super-modern nano building. We got to see the two types of electron microscopes. The architecture was also quite impressive. There was natural lighting everywhere. It was extremely open and well-designed.
  5. Nano bio hybrid. We got to see the tools they use to design, create, and test the nano-bio-hybrids that there had been the lecture about.
  6. Astronomy. We got to see the various equipment they use for astronomy, including the frame of a balloon that had carried sensors high into the atmosphere. 

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