Tuesday, July 23, 2013

System Malfunctioning

Today was a day of hard work and determination.  In class, the radio telescope group had free time to work on presentations while the rest of the class performed the speed of light experiment.   I took the time to work on my groups Hersey Park presentation on the ride “Sooper Dooper Looper”.  I attempted to access our data graphs on a program called Data Studio via my laptop, but the file refused to load.  I then attempted to open the file on one of the computers in the lab, but that ended with the same result.  I had no way to access our data, so I had to borrow the official Data Studio disk in order to download the software directly instead of the website.  However, when I loaded the disk I was unable to download the software, which made things even more stressful.  While all of this is going on, other groups were busy working away on their presentation while I was stuck trying to just open the file.  I eventually I ended up working on the PowerPoint trying to find useful information and facts online.  By the time that it was time to go downstairs to the lecture hall I had only completed three slides; I was not amused.

Don't drop the liquid nitrogen.
After lunch, my group went back to Dr. Aguirre’s lab to continue working on the radio telescope.  Today we were attempted to calibrate the radio dish so that it would display accurate temperatures of different objects.  The easiest way to test variations in temperature is to go from something very cold to something very warm or vice versa.  To do this we tested the radio on liquid nitrogen and a lit light bulb.  The nitrogen was reading around 77 Kelvin with the bulb reading at about 300 Kelvin.  With this accurate temperature reading we concluded that the calibration was complete, so we decided to have a little fun with the liquid nitrogen. 

Once all of the equipment was assembled and calibrated, we moved the entire rig outside in an attempt to measure the sun.  It took a while to get the rig outside since it had a 50lb mounting rig, two desktop computers, and the radio dish all on one cart, but after a few almost disastrous impacts with the cracks in the sidewalk, we finally made it outside.  To our dismay, the entire calibration of the radio dish became lost after rebooting the computers once we set everything up.  Then to make matters worse, the clouds rolled in and foiled our attempts once and for all.  We then rolled the rig back into the lab and attempted to perform the same test using a lit light bulb as a simulated sun.  Unfortunately, the calibration was still off and we couldn't yield an accurate measurement.  We plan on returning tomorrow to fix the shenanigans once and for all.  I’m starting to become annoyed with technology failing me when I need it most.

After class, My RC group of about ten other guys from my floor went miniature golfing with our RC Juan.  Unsurprisingly I won the tournament with the low score of 40. I was pleasantly surprised at how good some of my fellow floor-mates were at putting and I actually had to try in order to win.  It was a lot of fun; much more fun than before when there were about thirty or so people all playing at once.

In the evening my friend and fellow group member in the Hersey Park group came to my room to work on the presentation.  I had given him the Data Studio disk hoping that it would work on his computer, but our professors found a way to open the data using alternative software.  With our data finally available, we were capable of making progress on the PowerPoint. Finally technology was working for me and not against me. After a few hours of interpreting graphs and formatting them, we finally called it a night.  While I work with Dr. Aguirre tomorrow morning, it will be up to the rest of my group to finish the presentation without me.  Hopefully we can have it done by Thursday when it is due.

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