Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Gravity Gouges

Today was one of those mornings where I felt sure that there was an exceptionally strong gravitational field located directly under my bed. I was pretty sluggish at first, but I was motivated by wanting a shower and being extremely hungry, so I wandered out of our room and found the shower stall. After my shower, I felt much more awake and we walked over to the dining hall together. Over time I’ve figured out that I am a lot more energetic after eating only a light breakfast, so I visited the fruit bar and then got a large bowl of cereal in lieu of hot cooked food. Alex, Julia, and I have the walk to class down to a science now, and we arrived just a few minutes early.

Today in class we talked more about waves and how they are related to energy. Bill re-introduced the oscilloscope to us so that we could use it in our lab. Today, we attempted to measure the speed of different waves using the oscilloscope. By using the oscilloscope to graph exactly when each wave left the device and then graphing it again when the wave had gone through a circuit of wire we could measure the speed of electricity through the circuit. We knew the distance that the electricity travelled through the circuit and we found the time it took from the oscilloscope so we calculated the speed of electricity in our circuit and found it was roughly 60% of the speed of light. We also determined the wavelength of several different colors of light using a sensor and Logger Pro.

After class we all raced back to our dorms to meet with Mr. Miranda. After we dropped off our stuff in our rooms and got through all the necessary paperwork, we walked to the subway station nearby. We rode the subway to the Amtrak station downtown where we took the train several stops to the Swarthmore stop. As soon as we got off of the train, I was amazed by the view of the Swarthmore campus. While I don’t have a strong preference for a more open or urban campus yet, I really liked how open and beautiful the Swarthmore campus. We walked up a wide path through a large grass field up to the undergraduate admissions office. We each took a self-guided tour map from the office and walked outside to begin our tour. We walked around for about an hour and saw most of the campuses’ buildings. I enjoyed seeing the library, science buildings, and the expansive gardens in the area such as the rose garden. I liked the campus a lot, but I think that I am at least currently interested in going to a college with a slightly larger campus than Swarthmore’s. That said, the combination of a beautiful campus, highly driven students, and dedicated college town would make Swarthmore a great place to go to college.

After we returned from Swarthmore, it was time for the social part of my evening. While I honestly have a ton of fun in class each day, I always look forward to returning back to the dorms, kicking off my shoes, and hanging out with my friends. After spending some time hanging out in our room, we decided to go somewhere else which ended up being a bad idea for me. In the interest of being ridiculous, I attempted to climb upstairs without touching any of the stairs. While it worked for about two and a half floors, I never saw the landing of the third. As my physics teacher Bill would have been eager to describe, I used the chemical energy from my food to climb up several floors which converted my energy into the gravitational potential energy that ultimately was converted back into kinetic energy and a nice little gouge in my shin. Luckily the Summer Discovery staff was well-prepared to repair the damage of my stupidity, and my leg is nicely bandaged up and feels fine now. Anyways, that’s plenty of physics for today, goodnight.

P.S. Alex fell off a swing at Swarthmore which was hilarious! Further proof that gravity was exceptionally strong today.

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