Category Archives: Uncategorized
So! The last two semesters were bigger time consumers than expected, but I survived!! I made it through Differential Equations relatively unharmed, presented at two conferences, and made the Dean’s List . So – Yeah Yeah! Good Work!
As far as summer plans go:
I restarted research on Monday. I am doing more in depth analysis of the project I was working on last summer. Now that I have a better understanding of what I am doing I am seeing problems that I wasn’t equipped to find last summer. This pleases me and makes me want to pull my hair out all at the same time. But! What would research be without tons of problems!? One of the good things to come out of a problem is finding two special core collapse hosts. They have been tucked away for studying in the future. The goal for this summer is to write a legitimate paper, not just a lab report like I did last summer. If all goes well, it will be good and publishable. As an undergraduate, being a primary author of an academic paper is kind of awesome! So, here is hoping that it comes together beautifully! I also found out yesterday that I was approved for summer funding by the university. This is a huge relief.
I will also be a counselor at the 3rd Annual Camp Cosmos hosted by the Physics and Astronomy Outreach department. I am going to be presenting talks on SETI, Galaxies, and the Solar System. I am pretty excited and think it should be a really good time. I will also continue doing planetarium shows for schools and for the public. If you live near Detroit, you should definitely come check out one of our public shows! They are free and good times are had by all!
Finally, I will be going to the UK for two weeks in August. My mom and I are going to visit various places in England, Scotland, and Wales. My mom is in the military, so I don’t get to see her very often. It will be great to spend time with her. And I haven’t been out of the country since 2005, so I am really looking forward to it!
Lastly, those of you who have read this blog before (or have been following me on tumblr for more than a year) know that I got a beautiful orange bike last summer (fondly referred to as the Tangerine Beast). MM finally got a bike too, so we decided Tuesday will be out bike date night. I’ve decided to take photos of the various places we bike to. Here are some photos from this past Tuesday. We biked to Eastern Market and had dinner at Supino’s and then we biked down the Dequindre Cut to the east Riverwalk and back to our apartment.
Alright! I promise I will blog regularly this summer (otherwise find me and kick me in the shin!)
Well, dear Reader, I survived my first summer of research (here is a link to my final report!)! I participated in a mini-symposium to present my research! I completed my SI orientation yesterday! I am working Festi-Fall on Tuesday afternoon (so any new WSU students – stop by the Physics & Astronomy table!)! Classes start on Wednesday! Here is my class schedule:
Linear Algebra – MWF 9:35am-10:30am; Ancient Greek (language) – MTWTh 10:40am – 11:35am; Ancient Philosophy – TTh 1:25pm – 2:50pm; Biology Today – MWF 1:55pm-2:50 pm (this is the class I am SI-ing for, so I’m not taking it but have to attend lecture); Modern Physics – MW 5:30pm-6:55pm; Modern Physics lab – W 7:05pm-8:55pm; Differential Equations – TTh 6:00pm-7:20pm
Delightful mix, yeah? :) The joys of being a Clastrophysicist! And this is not including the time I will be working in the lab (if I haven’t mentioned I got a position as an undergraduate research assistant for this school year!!! YAY!), planning and holding SI sessions, or working in the planetarium. And don’t forget spending time with MM and others and tumbling. I will be a very busy little bee!
And I’m kind of excited about it. It is going to be difficult and I am sure there will be a ton of flailing and weeping involved, but I think it will be good. I am really excited to continue my research. SDSS came out with a new data release on August 1 (DR9). A big difference with this data release is this is the first time spectroscopic data from BOSS (Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey) has been released to the public. I am going to rerun my field galaxy query and recalculate my figures to see if this changes any of the results I found this summer. I have also started looking at the galaxy morphological classifications for the supernova host sample. There are more spiral galaxies than ellipticals (no irregulars in this SN sample). Not sure what it means, but I will let you know when I do! I’m also really excited about the course I am SI-ing for. I hope I can get a good turn out and really help and encourage the students that come to my sessions. I am a bit nervous about taking two math courses this semester, but I’m also very determined that this will be the semester that the math will reveal itself as a glorious beast and everything will finally fall into place for me! I am taking Modern Physics course for honors credit. I will be writing a 6000 word essay about something. I’m thinking relativity – but I haven’t decided yet. Need to start my writing sample collection so I will be able to get into a quality science writing master’s program!!
So yeah! Busy, busy! People have expressed concern about overextending myself. I am slightly concerned about it too. But I always provide just enough rope to hang myself. Luckily, I am terrible at tying knots! And, as I stated in my birthday post:
This semester is going to be super rad and I am going to be fantastic.
Dear Reader! Where has summer gone? July is done in 4 days! The REU ends in 2 weeks!! Classes start again in a month!!!
It has been a frustrating month. I have been battling my data since we last spoke. Continually and viciously. And until yesterday, it was winning. However, with some assistance from a lovely postdoc (who is working in South Africa), I am no longer spinning my wheels. I finally got a decent field galaxy sample (no stars, no poor images, no empty space) and I will be able to start determining properties of the galaxies next week. Research is a funny thing. In coursework, you are placed in a nice little bubble where there is always a correct answer. In research, no. Obviously you are working toward finding an answer, but there is no bubble, even in baby projects like mine! AND THAT IS SO HARD! But. It has also been an extremely positive experience for me. I think everyone going into science should work on an actual research project. I honestly think has given me a new prospective on what I am doing and it is going to help me as I start my coursework in the fall. I also will be meeting with my Modern Physics instructor next week to decide on an essay topic for the honors portion of the class. I’ll let you know what we decide on!
Also, I mentioned on my tumblr that I got a Supplemental Instruction position for the fall. I will be the SI leader for a introductory biology course. My professor from last fall contacted me and asked if I would be interested – so! It always feels good to know you made a good impression on someone! And SI leader will be a nice thing to put on a CV and hopefully I will be able to help people be less fearful and annoyed with (and possibly come to love) a science course. I mean, science courses intimidate a lot of people, so I’m gonna be like the Doctor – here to help. So! I’m really excited about it! The orientation is at the end of next month. I am also going to be going to the biology professor’s lab and learn how to do Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). That is kind of exciting. Also, I really want to wear a lab coat and goggles! I mean, I suppose I could wear them now, but it would only be to amplify my dashing good looks…
Other new and exciting things! I might be participating in a symposium in August! We will be discussing our summer research with REU students from other departments. I’m not 100% sure if that is happening, but hopefully!! It will be nice to meet people from other departments and hear about their research.
On a personal note, I have been working in a garden on campus! I think that it is going pretty well! My tomato plants have tomatoes on them and my squash, cucumber, and melon plants are flowering. I have a bunch of dill, basil, and lavender. And my collards and chard are coming in very nicely! Honestly, I am a terrible gardener, but I am learning!
Greetings Readers! I have made it through another two weeks of my research and my computer education continues. A friendly graduate student took pity on me and lent me a couple of books:
These have helped me fumble my way through the Matrix looking bits of my computer. LOOK AT IT (please read that phrase in a Dalek voice…because that is how I typed it):
I am using a program called PuTTY, which is “ a free implementation of Telnet and SSH for Windows and Unix platforms” to remotely access our Unix platform which uses bash shell and speaks in Linux (Red Hat??) commands. If my computer illiteracy wasn’t completely evident before, trying to explain how the bits work eliminates any doubt! But I managed to upload PEGASE.2 to a directory (I just haven’t been able to use it yet)!
I finished my initial SQL query and ended up with ~142,000 objects that fit my parameters. This is a good sample size. My advisor wanted to see histograms (which is a graph that shows the distribution of data) of the redshift and ugriz magnitudes. I used gnuplot, “a portable command-line driven graphing utility”, to create my histograms and something weird happened:
The histograms looked fine except for that one little spike shows up on the right side of the peak. This is the histogram of the u magnitude. The g,r,i magnitudes have small spikes after the peak, but the u and z magnitudes have very pronounced spikes. Going back and making a new SQL query I found several objects that had extremely high errors in u and z in the around the magnitude where the spike is occurring. I am now using that new query to go back and collect the ugriz errors for all of the objects I found in the initial query so I can get an idea of how often there are large errors in any of the magnitudes. So. Once I rebuild my sample I will be making more histograms.
I also made these graphs:
These are plots of ugriz magnitudes. If you look closely at the bottom of each graph you can see a gap between the mid-magnitude objects and the higher magnitude objects (the smaller a number is the higher the magnitude). When I first saw these I was like “The hell is this?!”. I brought them to our weekly Astro Meeting (my professor has another undergraduate, a graduate student, a PhD candidate, and a post-doc working with him on astro related things) and the post doc and my professor looked at them and said “Makes sense.”. Sometimes objects saturate the images so much that they can’t be corrected and which results in graphs with “ghosting”.
Once I finish collecting and examining my data and then recollecting and reexamining (and probably repeating that process a few more times!) I will be able to start using PEGASE.2 and start calculating the field galaxy properties! Wish me good luck as I continue on my computer endeavors – I need it!
I finished the first week of my REU (and am on day one of week two)! It was a mildly frustrating week because I couldn’t access my data until Friday, but I’m starting to figure things out now. I am doing SQL queries to find the redshift and ugriz magnitudes of galaxies so I can use a program called PEGASE to calculate galactic properties (such as star formation, stellar mass, age). I figured out my query but I am still a little bit suspicious of it. I’ve done a patch of sky 10 degrees (ra) by 3 degrees (dec) and have only come up with ~15000 galaxies. When I did a query with no redshift limits on a patch of sky .25 degrees (ra) by 3 degrees (dec) I ended up with a sample of ~11000 galaxies – so I am going to do another 20 degrees and see what I end up with and maybe start panicking then. I have also been double checking some of my objects to make sure they are galaxies (I am fairly new to anything coding related – even something as basic as SQL, so I don’t want to take any chances [again with the suspicion!]). Here are some images:
And here is what one of my queries looks like:
So! All in all, things are going pretty well. I enjoy the other REU students! My lab colleagues (aka DungeonBuddies) are super rad – even when they make their Macs talk and sing in creepy computer voices! We’ve also agreed upon 3pm dance parties and are contemplating how to make a mirror ball. Our lab (dungeon) is neat. Here is a picture of my work space:
After I compile my data the hardcore computing starts. I opened the unix server that I will be using, thought it looked like the Matrix and closed my computer in terror. So, advice for fellow mad scientists-in-training, make sure you love computers and know how to use them (beyond tumbling and such!). I’m looking forward to crash coursing in all things computer over the next several weeks.
Also, I bought a bike!
It was kinda touch and go there for a bit, dear reader, but I survived the semester! I also managed to make the Dean’s List, so, YAY!! The sad part of this tale of triumph and joy, the last easy semester I will ever have just ended. Thinking about my schedule for next semester makes me cringe a bit. Don’t misunderstand, I am very excited and am looking forward to it, but I fully anticipate instances of yelling and weeping and flailing. However, I think emotional outbursts are a necessary requirement for mad scientist-dom, so!
And on the topic of mad scientist-ness, I saw this delightful thing on tumblr:
I think studying science and humanities together is very important (which is why I am doing it – and so I can complain about being a triple major!). I think that there are a lot of things that I will be able to take away from my Classics courses that will contribute to me being a good scientist, like writing and being able to articulate ideas. Plus, it’s good to be able to pronounce the Greek letters used as symbols in science correctly (e.g. ω ≠ w and μ ≠ u with a tail).
My summer research project (henceforth referred to as REU) will be starting on June 4th. I have already started putting together my initial presentation and I think it’s coming along pretty well. I am really excited for the others to get here and to get to it! I’m also very nervous, which is probably understandable. This is my first research project. It’s a pretty cool project and, from what I understand, has potential to go other places from here. The only downside is I am not sure how to blog about it appropriately. How do proper researchers blog? What’s okay to talk about, okay to share? I still have a few weeks to figure this out and I have a few people I can talk to, so mostly I am just excited. And when I get the first part of my stipend, I am getting a bicycle, which is also exciting.
Even though it’s still a few weeks away, I wanted to mention that Venus will transit across the Sun on June 5th. It’s the last time this will happen this century – so definitely make an effort to see it (safely!)! And I am sure I will bring it up again. In closing, here are some awesome pictures of things transiting across the sun:
2004 transit of Venus
(its the dot down and to the right of the center)
(Credit: Thierry Legault)
<Please insert excuses for a lack of updating here>
Happy April, dear Readers! That means it is almost my birthday! My birthday doesn’t always coincide with the return of Zombie Jesus, but when it does, dude better show up to my party! The attitude I am adopting for this next trip around the Sun is as follows:
Very appropriate, I think!
School things – you very sadly missed the rest of the dramatists (Sophocles and Euripides) and happily missed Thucydides (almost a boring as Herodotus, but not quite!). This week we read Frogs by Aristophanes. DELIGHTFUL! I am working on my fourth response paper this weekend, pointing out ways I see Frogs as a mock epic, and I think it is going alright.
And the math! We have moved on to doing change of variables in multiple integrals (YAY Jacobians!):
I found out two weeks ago that my application to the honors college was accepted. And I ended up adding a Classics major – so I am officially a triple major in Astronomy, Physics, and Classics. I have also picked out my schedule for next semester. I will be taking Differential Equations, Linear Algebra, Modern Physics+Lab (for honors), Ancient Philosophy, and Ancient Greek (language). I still haven’t decided if these are good things or bad things. But these last bits of information reaffirm my suspicion that I am a little bit masochistic.
Oh! And I am doing two planetarium shows this week!
And now I need to get back to paper writing and the math. Have a lovely week, dear Reader!
PS> This image is also an acceptable representation of my new outlook on life:
Hello Reader! I hope the last…erm…almost 20 days have treated you well. I know! I know! I said I would be better about blogging, and I’m working on it, but there has been much to do and travels have taken place.
My best friend’s birthday is today (and the world is better for it!) so I went to Buffalo to visit last weekend for a pre-birthday celebration. It was fantastic (Niagara Falls, David Tennant/Catherine Tate Much Ado About Nothing, Blazing Saddles, drinks, good food, baking, nervous driving around [dude. Buffalo drivers are terrible!], other lovely Buffalonians…um…Buffalites…Buffaloers…well JB and EG, and just great sbf time). Tiny Anderson Cooper is a wonderful sbf joke – and AC is just pretty damn dashing! So giggle some and enjoy the itty-bitty handsomeness that is bookmark Anderson Cooper.
So, school things. Well. Calculus III is still not my favorite – partial derivatives and tangent planes have been better than other parts though. I think I may have to resign myself to the fact that The Math and I will never be in a loving relationship…and The Math don’t know what it’s missing out on! OW! Physics is going well. We started RC circuits this week. Electronics have been very agreeable. I am worried that I am being lulled into a false sense of security though – we will be starting the magnetism chapters very soon. We read Prometheus Bound by Aeschylus this week in my Greek Lit class. I think it is my favorite reading so far. I’ve always found Prometheus interesting. I mean, he is a Titan, but doesn’t really fit in with the Titans. Depending on the myth, he could be of the same generation as the Olympian gods. But he doesn’t fit in with them either. He helps mankind and is punished for his actions. Being helpful and having to be responsible for your actions is not really something Greek deities do…ever. In Prometheus Bound he is portrayed in a very human manner – which brings up questions of why. Is this nostalgia via Hesiod that people always wish they had been alive during the past or in the future but not during the present? The time Aeschylus was writing was very full of change (Athens coming to power, end of the strongmen rule and the move to democracy, the Persian Wars) – nostalgia makes very good sense. But! Who knows!
Also. News about neutrinos!
CERN: The press office of CERN issued the following statement today about last year’s finding by the OPERA collaboration that neutrinos travel faster than the speed of light:
The OPERA collaboration has informed its funding agencies and host laboratories that it has identified two possible effects that could have an influence on its neutrino timing measurement. These both require further tests with a short pulsed beam. If confirmed, one would increase the size of the measured effect, the other would diminish it. The first possible effect concerns an oscillator used to provide the time stamps for GPS synchronizations. It could have led to an overestimate of the neutrino’s time of flight. The second concerns the optical fibre connector that brings the external GPS signal to the OPERA master clock, which may not have been functioning correctly when the measurements were taken. If this is the case, it could have led to an underestimate of the time of flight of the neutrinos. The potential extent of these two effects is being studied by the OPERA collaboration. New measurements with short pulsed beams are scheduled for May.
The current word is that faulty wires could be responsible for the faster than light speed…so I guess we will know more in May. Until then, this meme has been very popular:
Alright! On that note, have a lovely weekend my dear Reader! Promise I’ll write soon!
Hello, darling Reader. I hope you have had a lovely week. It has been another busy week. I had my second Calculus exam on Friday! Eh…but we are having exams every two weeks, so one not so hot one doesn’t matter too much (e.g. “You may have one this battle Calculus III, but the war has just begun! I shall master the vectors!” and so on…). We are moving on to Presocratics in my Greek Lit class…like Pythagoras, Heraclitus, Xenophanes, Anaximander (which I think is one of the coolest names ever!!). It should be alright (not as floral as pervious things). Also, Anaximander had delightful ideas about the universe, like aperion and this:
I also turned in my first response paper (I wrote about The Odyssey) for that class on Tuesday. It was one of the most fragmented, babbly things I have ever written (and if you are reading my blog, you understand the amount of babbling I do on a regular basis!). I am kind of nervous about getting it back. It’s always difficult to do the first paper for someone – you aren’t quite sure what they want, how they are going to respond to your ideas, etc… so! It will be interesting to see how/if he liked it.
My first physics exam is Friday (2/10). It should be alright! I’ve also realized that I am not very effective at being rebellious. I was unhappy about the lack of directions from my lab instructor on ambiguous parts of my lab, so I drew all of my force lines with colored pencils so that my lab report was rainbow (I would include a picture, but I’ve already turned the report in). I mean, nothing screams discontent like rainbow colors! It did make my lab report very beautiful though. So. I have no regrets.
And, dear Reader, as I promised a couple of posts ago – GOOD NEWS! Last semester I applied for the REU (Research Experience for Undergraduate) at my university and I have been accepted. I will be spending 10 weeks of my summer studying supernovae! This will be all sorts of good. It will give me my first real lab experience (which will hopefully lead to a more permanent lab opportunity during the school year). At the end of the summer, I will have research that I will be able to present at conferences. So! It’s pretty rad and I am very excited.
Busy, busy week!! Busy, busier weekend!
The semester is in full swing and the honeymoon period is over – it never lasts long enough!
Works and Days was not my favorite thing to read. Coming up with discussion questions was not an easy thing. We are reading a selection of lyric poems for next week, so let me share!!
Here I lie mournful with desire,
feeble in bitterness of the pain gods inflicted upon me,
struck through the bones with love.
Romantical, right? I have to tell you, dear Reader, I am a little nervous. I have a response paper due on Tuesday and I can’t remember the last time I actually had to write a paper. Its only 3-5 pages and I know what I am writing about (In the Odyssey, Odysseus was only helped by females. Why? And discuss the idea of masculinity and the hero). Its not novel or anything, but hopefully it will turn out alright.
We have moved on to derivatives and integrals of vector functions in Calculus and studied electric fields and Gauss’s Law in Physics. In lab, we had to find and diagram equipotential lines for six different drawings done on slightly conducting paper with a conducting-ink pen. Making adequate diagrams on Microsoft Paint is going to take forever! WHY DO I HAVE TO LOVE BEAUTIFUL LAB REPORTS??!
Other news! I have all of my paperwork signed to do a dual degree. I am still waiting to hear from the Honors college – I am still pretty nervous about it, but hopefully they will get back to me soon. All of this makes me realize that I must be slightly masochistic! But! There are worse things!!
On a more personal note, it has kind of been a frustrating week. I have been pretty tired, upset I haven’t done as much as I should, dealing with people [and allowing those people to bring out a negative part of me - I know better and I am disappointed in myself for sinking to a snotty, miserable level]. I am also really missing my sbf (super best friend) and my other friends. I don’t know… Anyway, not every week can be the best ever, but I think next week will be better!
Alright, Reader, I have dawdled enough! There is some vector calculus that needs my attention! Have a lovely weekend!