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Posts Tagged ‘School’

Trusty Bike

My trusty companion for four years.

My trusty companion for four years.

I did it, I finally sold my trust mountain bike. While it never did triumph over any mountains it successfully carried me across campus numerous time over the last four years. Sun, rain or cold it was there. Sometimes the seat would be completely soaked (not the seat shown) and it sometimes squeaked and rattled when it rained but it performed well.

Having lived through UCSB for fours years without once being stolen it is now venturing forth to the SSU campus to carry another to their classes.

I will miss you bike.

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Final Final

Education: Keep Out

Education: Keep Out

My last final of my undergraduate degree took a long time to finish.

A total of seven minutes.

It is a good way to end.

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Must concentrate, must study.

Must concentrate, must study.

Okay, here’s the plan:

Read through the class notes (own and provided) and jot down any important looking equation.

Go through book chapters looking at pictures, diagrams and equations. Write down any that might be on the final.

Compile a notesheet to use on the file from these notes.

Look over old homeworks for what was done incorrectly and equations used. If there is something that was used on the homework not on the notesheet, put it there.

Do the same with the midterm(s).

Re-write the notesheet clearly in an organized fashion to be used on the final.

Make a second notesheet of material that is not allowed on the first one (if applicable). Read this over before going to sleep the night before the final.

Ensure a solid nights sleep.

And that is how I have dealt with every physics final that has allowed notesheets (all of them).

The finals I dread are those that allow calculators and open-note open-book exams. Those scare me to no end. That and take home finals.

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End of Homework

The sun actually came out today.

The sun actually came out today.

Today I turned in my last homework assignment of my undergraduate degree. While I still have a lab report and presentation there are no more problem sets or hours spent involved in math. Only four more classes left until the end, then finals. The end is soon but it still feels far away, mostly because there is this lab report in the way.

On an unrelated note (sort of) we discussed the Cosmological Constant, Λ, today in general relativity. Most notably the difference in the predicted value based on dimensional analysis (usually a few orders of magnitude correct) and the measure value. The measured value was 10^50 the predicted value. This is the biggest failure of dimensional analysis in all of physics.

Overall I have liked upper-division physics a lot more then lower-division especially for the times when we discuss what we do not know. Learning what we know is nice and all but the uncharted territory is a much more interesting subject (like quantum gravity, I mean an infinite set of coupled equations can’t be that hard…).

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Some people blame the oil platforms for the tar on the beach when it is all natural seepage.

Some people blame the oil platforms for the tar on the beach when it is all natural seepage.

There are a handful of topics that really bother me when the government starts to consider them. Recently the California state legislation is considering taking away the autonomy of the University of California and placing it under direct control of the legislature.

Now this appears to me to be one very large bid idea. The University of California is one of the most respected and recognized university systems in the world, when I was talking with professors are other schools for graduate programs most if not all had been to UC Santa Barbara for some conference or another, ant this is just one of the campuses. I have gone through the California public school system from kindergarten through a BS in Physics and I can say that some parts definitely need improvement. However one of these is not the UC (I am looking at you standardized testing).

The Regents may make some decisions that I disagree with and some that I fully encourage, but by being autonomous they can make controversial decisions (such as operating Los Alamos National Laboratory). And as long as they remain autonomous they can keep making decisions, if they were run by a legislature that take months to agree on a budget then the Universities would have a larger budget problem.

I hope that these amendments to remove the UC autonomy do not pass and encourage everyone who lives in California to write to their assembly-person about the issue.

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Lab Data

A classic science trap, wait for them to look at the spectrometer and pull the stick away.

A classic science trap, wait for them to look at the spectrometer and pull the stick away.

After seven weeks of work we have finally taken real data for our senior lab project.

Normally the class is broken into three week labs (2 for the lab, 1 for the report) but two friends and I are creating a new lab. Yesterday everything finally came together and we could actually hook everything up and get some really nice results.

The hard part of our lab is that it encompasses digital electronics, analog electronics, computer interfacing, frequency space, optics and beam vibrations. If we took a few of these parts out it would be a lot easier but not as satisfying.

What we are doing is using a novel interferometer to measure how far a metal beam is displaced at different resonant modes. The trick bit is that when not at a resonant mode the beam is moving fast and far enough to produce a 500 kHz signal. Getting this 10mV sine wave into a series of binary pulses that can be graphed on a computer is a little bit harder then we initially expected.

But now it works. Seven weeks in we can start doing some physics.

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Lost shoes in Isla Vista.

Lost shoes in Isla Vista.

At first I was going to write about how I thought that putting textbooks on the Kindle was a bad idea, then while writing I realized that I was wrong.

Wrong in the sense that from my point of view (a physics student) I need physical textbooks so the Kindle did not work for me, however by the sound of it it would work really well for a lot of other majors.

Thinking to my general education classes such as history or comparative literature it would have been easier to throw the multitude of fifty dollar textbooks onto a Kindle to carry to class instead of hauling around the glossy pages. The same goes for art history courses, geography and film studies. Those books are just flat out heavy and unneeded once the course is over.

Some classes cannot be fully transfered to a device like the Kindle. Any language class needs workbooks, upper division science books (for the most part) would serve better in paper format and quick reference books like tables of integrals.

One reason I would really like a Kindle (or would have early on) is so I can store all of the homework assignments, solutions and online lecture notes together in one place. Reading PDFs off the screen is not very pleasant, having them together would really facilitate studying and homework. Especially when you put all of the lecture notes from all of your major classes onto the device.

That would be pretty sweet.

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