Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Franklin Institute

I do not understand how each day continues to outshine the previous one, but somehow it does. It started with class; today's was the most interesting yet. After only one hour of lecture about the conservation of momentum and energy, we got straight into the labs and today there was no need to write down any data because we learned how to program Logger Pro to calculate it all for us.

After we set up the equations for the graphs, we dropped a basketball under a motion detector and the data automatically displayed the potential energy and kinetic energy at any given point. The graphs ended up looking beautiful and the information backed up the concepts we learned in the lab.

We also got to utilize our new knowledge of video analysis and we found the ball’s parabolic change in height that way too. Plotting a basketball’s position frame by frame in a video that takes 60 frames per second might sound tedious, but my lab partners and I all took turns and lively conversation made it seem to go by very quickly. The resulting graph was also really cool.

After that, Bill gave a lecture on the physics of racecars during which he explained some of the activities we would be doing tomorrow when we go to the Simeone Foundation Museum. He also showed us a video clip of a NASCAR race and explained what exactly the loosing car did wrong in physics terms. It was one of the best lectures so far.

Our afternoon lab was also really interesting. We measured the refraction index of a material using two different methods. He also did a demonstration with a laser and a tube. He positioned it in such a way that a spiraled light path formed.

After class, I went on one of the optional scheduled field trips to the Franklin Institute. We saw the special exhibit of mummies from all around the world. It was an exceptional display. They had mummies dating from more than 2,000 years ago to as recently as 50 years. Some of them were intentionally mummified with chemicals and linen wrappings. Others were simply preserved due to the environment they happened to die in. Some of the naturally occurring were in strange positions and held strange objects. Often times their hair was still intact and occasionally even braided. It was slightly disturbing, highly educational and definitely interesting.
When I got back to the campus after the museum, I played an international game of soccer (or "football" to most of them). There were people from Switzerland, Turkey, Italy, England and Brazil. I was surprised at how much I remembered from freshman year. I was even able to score some goals. Once we sweat through all our T-shirts and the sun went down, we retired to the lounge where we brought a laptop so we could share some of the music we liked listening to with the group. Needless to say there was a lot of variation in genres and taste. We listened until it was time to go to bed so we could be fresh for the new, and if the trend continues, even more exciting day.

1 comment:

  1. Julia,

    You really made all of this sound interesting. Having been a physics major myself I'm still interested in this but reading about doing the same types of experiments that we used to perform except with really cool equipment makes it sound so much more interesting.

    It's great that you're getting along with your newfound friends from around the world and learning of their cultures but are you having any luck teaching them some things from your culture? It's too bad you don;t have access to a mountain bike so you could impress them with your skills.