Monday, July 30, 2007

What an Extraordinary Friday I Had!

This past Friday was most unusual in that I got to see and observe some very large and important pieces of equipment that very few people get to see, much less young sophomore engineering students. They were equipment especially used for research in various fields.
On Friday morning, I was able to see and walk in the room that contained one of the top ten largest supercomputers in the world. This was only possible because of certain connections I had...
Actually, I ran my fingers down one of the large racks. They are interesting because they look like big black boxes that have been tipped. Like a parallelogram. And they make quite a lot of noise, though not as much as the chillers do.
Then, I went to my lab thinking that was a great deal of excitement for the day.
But then,
my professor came in at four and asked the only other student in the lab, Mike, and I if we wished to go with him right then to the SEM. Of course we said yes, even though that meant I had to stick around a little bit longer than I normally do.
So we walked down to the clean room and put some really funny looking costumes that reminded me of the costumes the kids were wearing in the old version of Willy Wonka where they all went to see the large chocolate bar made small. Except our suits weren't white. They were blue striped. And they were rather baggy. Mine was especially baggy because my professor thought I was about 2XL in suit size because I was so tall, but that was way too big. We had to put on boots that went over our sneakers, gloves, hoods, and suits. And Mike had to wear something over his beard and mustache.
After all that preparation, we shuffled into the clean room which is actually a whole section of rooms each dedicated to some sort of equipment. The SEM room actually has two SEM's. Now I will explain what SEM means. SEM stands for Scanning Electron Microscope. It's basically a large microscope that shoots electrons at whatever you are looking at. That enables you to see things on the nano-particle level. Mike and I couldn't touch it because we hadn't had three hours of training plus a test. But our professor could. So I spent over an hour in the clean room looking at things no one can see with their naked eye. My experiments turned out to have failed in accomplishing our project goals, but I didn't really care. Who can think of things like that sitting in the clean room with such amazing pieces of equipment?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Quote of Wednesday

This quote of Wednesday is from Saint Augustine's work The City of God, Book I, Preface.
The glorious city of God is my theme in this work, which you, my dearest son Marcellinus, suggested, and which is due to you by my promise. I have undertaken its defense against those who prefer their own gods to the Founder of this city, - a city surpassingly glorious, whether we view it as it still lives by faith in this fleeting course of time, and sojourns as a stranger in the midst of the ungodly, or as it shall dwell in the fixed stability of its eternal seat, which it now with patience waits for, expecting until "righteousness shall return unto judgement," and it obtain, by virtue of its excellence, final victory and perfect peace.

Augustine likes to write long sentences, I think. It is best to read this out loud to fully get the meaning. And he is referring to the city of God when he speaks or "it". So it is living by faith and it sojourns in the midst of the ungodly. And it shall dwell in fixed stability, but it is waiting with patience for that time.
I hope that makes it a little more clear. I had to read it thrice to fully grasp its meaning.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Quote of Wednesday

This quote comes from a problem from Fundamentals of Physics, seventh edition, part 1 by David Halliday, Robert Resnick, and Jearl Walker.

Chapter 8, Prob. 53
A large fake cookie sliding on a horizontal surface is attached to one end of a horizontal spring with spring constant k = 400 N/m; the other end of the spring is fixed in place. The cookie has a kinetic energy of 20.0 J as it passes through the spring's equilibrium position.

Now what I am particularly wondering is why they are using a large fake cookie. It doesn't really make a lot of sense. Why didn't they use a real cookie? Or even all those balls and weights common to beginner's physic's problems? No, they had to use a cookie. And to make it worse, it was a fake cookie. I mean, they couldn't even eat it when the experiment was done.
Problem writers are really strange or have a weird sense of humor.