Anna H. '14
Mar 7 2014
Posted in: Miscellaneous
A little over a month ago, the American Astronomical Society posted the following announcement:
I originally became a AAS member in order to present my research at AAS conferences, and membership turns out to provide valuable access to new opportunities. In this case, I realized that the dates were during my spring break, said "heck yeah," and applied.
On Valentine's Day, I got a message saying that I'd been accepted, and within a week received a whole bunch of homework.
- Book your travel
- Get to know your group
- Schedule meetings with your senators and representatives
My group consists of myself, a PhD student from Georgia, and a solar astrophysicist at Harvard. The AAS has a whole website on how to contact and schedule meetings with representatives, so I read through that in order to get myself from Zero Knowledge to Some Knowledge. My fellow Massachusetts resident and I divided up the labor so that I'm in charge of scheduling meetings with Senator Ed Markey... read the post »
Feb 27 2014
While I read Paradise Lost, I think about astronomy. If you know me (I was going to say "know me well" then realized that "well" isn't a necessary qualifier) then you might yawn and say "what else is new? You salivate, swallow and breathe while reading Paradise Lost?"
I know, I know! But read this description of our home planet in Book II and you'll see what I mean:
"And fast by hanging in a golden chain
This pendent world in bigness as a star
Of smallest magnitude close by the moon." (II.1051-3)
I'm not sure what Milton means by "magnitude." In astronomy, we use the word "magnitude" to describe how bright an object is. Milton could definitely have known that technical term, because he spent a lot of time talking with Galileo. "Magnitude" here could also have meant "importance." The term could be ambiguous by design, since wordplay and double meaning are the jungle gym of Milton's mental playground. Anyway, when I read that passage, I saw this in my mind:
That's a... read the post »
Feb 17 2014
Beethoven to Mahler
Last semester, I took my first music class at MIT: 21M.235, or "Monteverdi to Mozart". 21M.235 is offered in the fall, and as you might guess it focuses on music spanning from Monteverdi (ca. 1600) to Mozart (ca. 1800). In the spring, a class called 21M.250 ("Beethoven to Mahler", for you words people) takes up the baton and covers music spanning from Beethoven (a Mozart contemporary) to Mahler (ca. 1910).
I loved having a class that taught me to listen, and was all set to take 21M.250 this semester -- until I found out that it conflicts with one of my physics classes. My friend Ben H. '14 was in a similarly tragic situation: he took 21M.235 with me, wanted to take 21M.250, but had a conflict.
What were two music nerds to do?
We e-mailed Professor Neff, the WONDERFUL wonderful professor who in the past few years has taught 21M.011 (Introduction to Western Music), 21M.235, 21M.250, and 21M.295 (American Popular Music).
"Professor Neff!" we (digitally)... read the post »
Feb 9 2014
From the MIT Lit dept's Spring 2014 course catalog:
21L.705 (Major Authors): Old English and Beowulf
hwæt ƿe gardena in geardagum þeodcyninga þrym gefrunon hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon… Those are the first words of the Old English epic Beowulf, and in this class you will learn to read them.
Besides being the language of Rohan in the novels of J.R.R. Tolkien, Old English (also called Anglo-Saxon) is a language of long, cold, and lonely winters; of haunting beauty found in unexpected places; and of unshakable resolve in the face of insurmountable odds. It is, in short, the perfect language for MIT students. We will read greatest hits from the epic Beowulf as well as moving laments (The Wanderer, Wulf and Eadwacer, The Wife’s Lament), the personified Cross’s psychedelic and poignant account of the Crucifixion (The Dream of the Rood), and a host of riddles whose solutions range from the sacred to the obscene but are always ingenious. We will also try our hand at composing our... read the post »
Feb 4 2014
Posted in: Miscellaneous
Hostel Colonial House, Quito
In retrospect, I do not recommend attempting to summit a volcano at 15,700 ft with only one day of altitude acclimation.
It's Sunday. We were woken up at 6:30am by very loud, very grand church bells, then couldn't find anything for breakfast because our hostel doesn't serve breakfast on Sundays and apparently neither do any restaurants. We broke our fast with potato chips and a chocolate bar from a grocery store, then rode a taxi to the TelefériQo.
The TelefériQo is a steep cable car that travels up Volcán (volcano) Pichincha. Quito itself is at just under 10,000 ft (3 km) above sea level, and the TelefériQo takes passengers on a 2.5 km (~8000 ft) journey to the Cruz Loma lookout point, which is at 13,500 feet (~4 km). From here, people with large lung capacities can hike to the Pichincha volcano summit, which is at just over 15,700 ft (~4.8 km).
Feyi joined us for the cable car ride:
We said goodbye to her at the Cruz... read the post »