First thing in the morning, we broke into our Hershey Park groups and downloaded the data we collected on our accelerometers and video cameras to the computers and making sensible graphs out of them. I was really impressed at how well our data came out and how interesting it is to compare acceleration in the x, y, and z direction as well as altitude versus time, especially once we have synced it to the first person video we took from the front car of the ride (which is admittedly mostly the grab rail, but there is definitely some useful information lurking in the background). We really only spent enough time with that to get the data on to Logger Pro, fix up the graphs and save it. The rest of the work for the presentation of Friday will be done outside of class.
After that, Bill gave a really interesting lecture on magnetism and its interactions with electricity. As always, his unique analogies and awesome demos gave me an even deeper understanding (in an enjoyable way) of a subject I was already familiar with. The first demo was one I had already seen; he sprinkled iron filaments on a magnet and we noted the patterns they aligned themselves in. In my high school course, that's as far as we went but because we have access to Penn's numerable resources, today we also got to see magnetic fields in three dimensions with tiny iron particles suspended in oil, forming a magnetic fluid. The shapes formed were more than interesting, they were beautiful. Bill also showed us how a moving current can form a magnetic field, and a moving magnetic field can form a current. The demo he used for this was an electron beam (visible through neon) between two loops of current carrying wire forming a circle. It was all really amazing to look at.
After class, I had a couple hours to chill in my dorms and get dressed up before our dinner with the Yale ILC group, Charles Ramsey, Madeline Kronenberg, and an admissions councilor at Swarthmore. The food was delicious especially compared to the dorm food, but the conversation was even more satisfying. Although I still don't see myself thriving at a college as small as Swarthmore is, what our guest said about all the options available for courses and the freedom undergraduates have in choosing their own path was really appealing to me and I hope to be able to find that same system at a slightly more busy place with more of a focus in research.
When we got back to the quad, it was already past 10, so we spent a little time introducing our friends from the Yale porgram to our classmates at Penn and then we said goodnight. I am very excitid for tomorrows guest lecture on the physics of neuroscience because those are the two fields that I have the most interst in and I am curious to see how they can be combined.