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Archive for October, 2008

Hallowe’en

 

Isla Vista, beach side.

Isla Vista, beach side.

Tonight is Halloween in Isla Vista.

Since I forgot to post earlier I will talk about it tomorrow.

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This piece just spoke to me.

This piece just spoke to me.

Build transistors same

otherwise

bad mirror

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Construction at UCSB, there is always some on campus.

Construction at UCSB, there is always some on campus.

I started studying for the Physics GRE today. My test is on November 8th, I know I should have started sooner. It sort of snuck up on me.

I don’t know how most people would start studying. Maybe looking over notes for the past years or reviewing a lower division general physics textbook. Or internet resources. I decided to go full immersion and start with a practice exam.

It destroyed me.

In the end my score came to be 590 or about 34th percentile. My goal is about 800 for the schools I want to get in to. During the test I marked problems that I felt I needed to review, sadly no correlation appeared between the problems I marked and the ones I answered correctly.

Now I need to decide on a path of study before my next practice test (probably Saturday). I can either look over the test for the right answers, look at solutions for my wrong answers online or compile a list of topics to study from notes.

I will start with solutions then move on to notes. Let us see if my score improves after my next practice exam.

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Bike Crash

 

An abstract staircase garden in the UCSB Administrative building.

An abstract staircase garden in the UCSB Administrative building.

I crashed my bike on the way back from lab tonight. The first bike accident this year that resulted in bleeding, bent handle bars and a distrust of patches of dark on the road.

I doubt it will be the last.

I don’t have much else to say today as I have a lot of homework to complete tonight coupled with a need to contact or reply to professor about graduate school research. Eventually I plan to write about the steps I have taken to apply to graduate school, the idea being to help those starting to look into physics graduate school.

First I need to find time and that is being taken up by physics.

On the plus side these short posts let me put up pictures I like that are not really related to any topic.

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100th Post!

 

The Humanities and Social Science Building at UCSB.

The Humanities and Social Science Building at UCSB.

Woo! My one-hundredth post!

I have managed to keep posting one entry a day for a hundred days. If I had a goal this might have been it, except that I did not set a final goal. I will keep on posting once a day to have a creative outlet and motivation to take and work on my photos.

I am sure someday Walk The Grass may help me in some way, until then I will keep posting photos and entries.

After a hundred posts, my goal is now to keep it up for as long as I can.

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Career Fair

 

Some science doohickey at CERN.

Some science doohickey at CERN.

Last week I went to a Science and Technology Career Fair at my school to check out the possibilities for person with a B.S. in Physics. I friend of mine went before I did (he is not going to graduate school) and he told me that several companies were indeed looking for physicist. That news elevated my hope that there would be a chance for my to practice physics if graduate school completely fell apart on me.

I feel it cannot hurt to be safe.

At the fair itself I noticed that almost every table wanted some form on engineer. Many had signs stating which type of engineer or what engineering skills they wanted. Not a single one had a sign saying “Physics majors come here”. I talked to a couple of the companies my friend mentioned and they were indeed hiring physics majors, just not as physicist (a rare job title I believe). One was friendly and involved in Navy contracted for weapons testing. The other was hesitant about physics majors but said that they do hire us to help engineers occasionally, they too were Navy contractors.

A few more companies seemed partly interested in physics majors and they were all related to the defense industry in one way or another.

After the career fair I had a sudden strong motivation to get to work on my graduate school applications.

As a side note there are some sweet free pens at career fairs.

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UCSB GOLD

 

A nice useful sign.

A nice useful sign.

Every school has their own system to register classes. At my school, the University of California Santa Barbara, the system is online and has been recreated since I started here. In principle it works well, you are given three time slots in which you can add or drop classes. The first one allows you to sign up for only 13.5 units (the average is 15 a quarter), the second pass is for the rest of the classes and the third pass is during the actual quarter for dropping classes and the like.

The actual pass time is very important, especially the first one. They are assigned based on a mixture of units completed, class standing and several other factors. The one affecting me is the honor’s program. The reason I joined the honor’s program was to gain priority registration to get all of the classes I need. My pass time for next winter was this morning while my roommate, another senior, has his three days from now.

The priority registration was more important in my freshman and sophomore years (my third was abroad so it had no effect) when I was signing up for non-physics courses either for fun or for General Education requirements. During these two years it was a real possibility to not get a class or get it at an awkward time (8 am sections did not fill up fast).

Now that I am a senior all of my classes are within the Physics department (aside from one GE left) so I do not have the luxury of considering alternative schedules. All of my classes fit together with little room for schedule choices. Also I have never worried about physics classes filling up, aside from lab sections (6pm-9pm labs are not ideal). If they did fill up it is easy to request an add code (special departmental permission to join a full class) to get into the class anyway.

I have only encountered one glitch in the entire registration system — prerequisites. I started with almost a full year of course credit from AP tests and this year I do have a complete year of physics course credit from studying abroad. This credit counted for a lot of the prerequisites for other classes. For example my Calculus AP test let me skip two quarters of math. The problem is that while I have credit for these classes GOLD does not recognize them as the actual prerequisite. Since I took a version of, say, Physics 100A abroad, when I signed up for a lab class today that required it would not let me. The same thing has happened a couple times in the past and I have even lost my ideal lab section (it always seems to be labs).

Fortunately I have found a way to cheat the registration system to get these classes. For almost all classes the prerequisite can be taken concurrently. So by signing up for the prerequisite that is needed in the same quarter it lets you sign up for the class you want. Now instead of keeping the prerequisite you can just drop it and have the ideal class remain. Since there is a 13.5 unit cap on the first pass time this does require some planning as at least four free units are needed to do the swap.

This morning I went to sign up for the physics senior lab course. It required that I take Physics 115A Quantum Mechanics. I am in 115C right now and did 115A abroad. I thought that I had petitioned for course credit but it looks like it did not go through. So I went to sign up for 115A to do my trick of swapping classes. I could not. 115A required 100A which I also took abroad. So I had to sign up for Math 124A (100A alternative since 100A is not offered this quarter), then 115A and finally my lab class. Then I went and dropped 124A and 115A which left with my just my lab class as I originally wanted.

While each school has their own registration system, some may not even be online yet, I am sure this workaround can be used on other online registration systems.

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