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Archive for January, 2009

 

Look, it is science!

Look, it is science!

I have spent all day slightly sick writing my lab report for the above pictured lab. Twenty hours of lab work for seven data points. Not a particularly good return but I did learn something. I really dislike writing up lab reports in Microsoft Word. It is not only a pain but an agonizing experience that can only be likened to something involving bamboo shoots and toe nails.

Suffice to say that I spent the time writing my report downloading TeX for Mac so I can write my next lab report in LaTeX. I heard that it is better and it just looks more professional and science like. I mean why can’t Word support normal MathML so I could just write my equations in Mathematica and paste them in. I suppose I could learn the office special math language but for that effort I think I will just learn LaTeX as it will actually be useful in the future.

Back to the lab report, I enjoy (mostly) doing the labs but writing the report is sort of painful. I mean it is hard to write well about steps taken from a lab manual to get a desired result. 

At least I have the rough draft finished.

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So many choices.

So many choices.

I just received an e-mail from the Univiersity of Wisconsin Madison, I have been accepted to the Physics department. No official details yet as it seems that the graduate school determines all of those while the department selects the students.

No word yet from the Engineering Physics department.

For the application to the Physics department I did not actually contact any professors ahead of time. I e-mailed a few in the Engineering Physics department but never actually got around to contacting those in physics. On the application there was even a space that asked me to list those I had contacted and I left it blank. Furthermore I just sort of resent the personal statement I wrote for the Engineering Physics over to Physics, though to be fair a majority of it is the same.

Goes to show that contacting professors may not have a positive effect, or that those I did contact are in both departments.

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Nothing to Say

White flower on a rainy day.

White flower on a rainy day.

I soldered my finger today, the advantage of this is that solder wounds don’t bleed. They cauterize right away.

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The temperature dropped to the year low of 32 F during the night, I am glad winter is over.

The temperature dropped to the year low of 32 F during the night, I am glad winter is over.

I received an e-mail from the University of New Hampshire physics department this morning: I have been accepted to the PhD program.

That puts me at two for two, or a one hundred percent acceptance rate so far. With more then one acceptance I really need to start figuring out a good way to evenly compare the programs and locales to help decide on the graduate school that fits me best. While I think that there are some basics that can be compared like pay, location, health benefits and all of that, what will probably decide it for me will be the trip out to the schools.

The science and the pay are important things to consider, however I will be living at this location for at least five years so the location will become a heavy consideration. Same with experiencing the airports, the local public transit and photographic potential within walking distance. Weather too might factor into it.

Luckily both schools so far are willing to fly me out for either open days or visiting. Unlike studying abroad it is not so easy to decide on a location without ever being there. Visiting in February/March will also give me a taste of Winter, something that I have only partially experienced once.

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GRE Search Services

 

Timing is always important.

Timing is always important.

I must say this is a very poorly organized service.

I signed up for the GRE Search Services expressing in interest in physics graduate school when I took the general GRE the summer before my senior year. I did not really think much of it at the time. I went on with finishing my applications on time making sure I had everything complete ahead of time.

Now that my applications are all in am I starting to receive e-mails and brochures from graduate schools encouraging me to apply. I expected to receive this material during late summer or early fall while there was still plenty of time to fill out applications.

Now it all just seems to be too late.

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Just a Small Tip

 

Just a warning to prevent getting shocked.

Just a warning to prevent getting shocked.

Just a tip, try not to misspell www.facebook.com

It appears that a transposition of two of the initial four letters redirects  to a site that might not be appropriate for many situations. I suppose the site would in fact be appropriate for only a very limited set of situations none of which are likely to occur in a public place.

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Reimu, made by my suite-mate and a star of the Touhou Project games.

Reimu, made by my suite-mate and a star of the Touhou Project games.

Cruising around on the internet I came across a brief article on how to make a macro studio for dirt cheap. This was almost as exciting as finding instructions on how to make a cheap panoramic tripod head out of plywood (if I only had access to the needed tools I would make it).

With nothing better to do, or more accurately no desire to do anything else I made a shoddy little macro studio. One set of instructions suggested a large piece of white paper, butcher paper would have been ideal, an off camera flash would also help greatly and don’t mention the needed macro lens. Since I was making a cheap paper box I correspondingly did not have any of these, not even the paper.

What I did have was printer paper, two desk lights, two LED flashlights and my trusty 50mm f/1.8 lens. I read the instructions, tried them and failed at the folding since I really was not reading it, however I did come up with an almost passable little set up. Here is a shot of what my desk looked like after this macro studio venture:

My desk after being inspired to build a macro studio.

My desk after being inspired to build a macro studio.

At first I calibrated my white balance, exposure and camera angle using my trusty desk knife. One of my limitations is that I did not have long enough paper so that I only had a small level area to work with, if I went farther out I encountered the seam between the pieces of paper. One advantage I did have was I had a willing subject. My suite-mate is big on origami and making paper creations and they happen to be about the right size for my studio.

While he was not looking I abducted Reimu from his desk to star in my little experiment in macro photography. I felt that it went well, I realized afterwards that my white balance was off but a little editing solved that problem. Two other issues arose: I could have really used some black paper as a backdrop and I now need a true macro lens. An off camera flash might also be beneficial, or maybe a more useful 4100 lumen flashlight.

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