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Think Happy Thoughts by Kim D. '09

D-Lab Memories >> Graphing With Matlab

I’m generating graphs, and have been since 8pm. They tend to start out looking messed up, like this:

And eventually looking much more reasonable, like this:

I stress eventually .

I think that if anyone understands how I feel about being stuck in an Athena cluster generating graphs all night, it is this disgruntled bull. Although the 22 other students in the cluster with me may have some idea as well.

…On an almost completely unrelated note, I recently learned a great mnemonic for the stock market types: Bulls attack by thrusting their horns up in the air and bears attack by swiping down. So a bull market is one in which the market is moving up and a bear market is one in which it’s moving down!

But back to the bull in the picture. He isn’t just any bull; he’s from Honduras. And so he brings back some amazing memories of the trip I got to take last January with D-Lab. There have already be several blogs about how awesome D-Lab is. This one’s a nice overview. I’m too sleepy to add much to them at this point, but maybe later I can tell you more about Honduras (There were all sorts of adventures, some of which involved crocodiles!). For now I’ll just allow myself one more picture (of our rope pump!) and get back to work.

:) Remembering Honduras makes me happy… so does company. Let me know if you’re out there working too!

41 responses to “Think Happy Thoughts”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I think the graph is for the Speed of Action Potentials as a Function of Internal Calcium Concentration…

    It is written above the graph in the 2nd screenshot raspberry

  2. kimd says:

    @mohit Well yes, Anonymous is right. More specifically, it’s for my class 6.021, Quantitative Physiology: Cells & Tissues. Believe it or not, it’s an Electrical Engineering class. (Everyone wonders why I’m taking ‘some bio class’) We use circuits to model cells and their behaviors: diffusion, osmosis, generating Action Potentials. In that graph, I’m using the Hodgkin-Huxley model and looking at what happens to the way the Action Potentials transmit as the amount of Calcium inside the cell increases beyond what it normally is. The action potentials slow down and eventually are unsustainable and die out.

    @ Anonymous (the first one) No, the pic’s not from India. It’s from a village called Claura in a remote area of Honduras. The area is so remote that the only way to get there was taking a boat several hours up the river smile The people in Claura had just finished installing that rope pump that we had made and brought for them. (That’s me in the yellow shirt, and Nadia ’08 in white).

    @Zak I was actually using both Linux and Windows all night, and half the time I wanted to throw the Linux box out the window. It can’t even accept files via usb stick! But I had to use it to run the software I was using to model the Action Potentials.

  3. Banerjee says:

    You went to the Honduras?! I’m so jealous.

  4. mohit says:

    @kim, thanks for the update. It sounds fascinating…If I knew about this one before, I would have included it in the (interview stuff)list of classes that I would like to take at MIT (I told my Interviewer some of them like 2.65J and 11.366)…..

  5. Vytautas says:

    Yeah, MIT is really amazing. It not only pushes the boundaries of the world, but it also is pulling the world to be closer to those boundaries.

  6. mohit says:

    what graph is that BTW?? just curious….

  7. Anonymous says:

    The last pic make me wonder if it is clicked in India???

  8. Zak says:

    How on earth do you live with yourself using windows??

  9. >@Zak I was actually using both Linux and Windows
    >all night, and half the time I wanted to throw the
    >Linux box out the window. It can’t even accept
    >files via usb stick! But I had to use it to run
    >the software I was using to model the Action Potentials.

    Which distro were you using? I have Ubuntu 8.04 and it’s never failed me before in terms of hardware support. Perhaps you need to mount the drive before your distro could use it. Then again, it may simply be a driver problem-’s hardware support page ( has several useful links for determining whether your hardware works with GNU.

  10. Ahana says:

    @ Charlie Eppes
    Do not defame Charlie Eppes.

  11. Jimmy Dong says:

    Um.. this may seem a bit nitpicky, but I’m wondering if you meant take instead of talk.
    “And so he brings back some amazing memories of the trip I got to talk last January with D-Lab.”

    On an unrelated note, what else is eventual?

  12. Anonymous says:

    The one thing I’m going to hate is not being treated to hearing the word “Matlab” with the southern drawl of Dr. Billy V. Koen.
    Nah. But it will be annoying to others when I start quoting him and they don’t get it.

  13. kimd says:

    @Charlie Eppes Yeah, I prefer Ubuntu, too; my old laptop was even dual-boot Ubuntu-XP. I’m not sure what the machines in the Student Center, where I was, are running. A quick google right now tells me it may be Linux-Athena?

    @Jimmy Dong You are correct… for another 15 seconds or so until I fix it smile

  14. Valeria says:

    …next time come to Bolivia!!!…an amazing country!

  15. June says:

    Wow! Did you build the rope pump?

    the last two pictures just emanate happiness. smile

  16. Zak says:


    you were probably using a distro with a KDE desktop since that has had some problems reported with usb devices but the GNOME desktop is always reliable, Ubuntu uses GNOME but kubuntu uses KDE…..but these are the most commonly used distros apart from redhat so thats why im referring to those…..(personally i would prefer slackware when using linux….BSD otherwise but my top priority goes to my mac)……my advice…goto and order a free copy of teh latest ubuntu cd (ignore any stability warnings-its gibberrish)…..then when its installed goto the add/remove programs and install wine (and anything else that catches your eye) update and youre all set- everything will go smoothly and if you have a problem installing a linux version of something you can always use windows files on linux by opening it with wine…..problems solved and now you can get rid of windows

  17. kimd says:

    @Zak I don’t have control over the linux distro when I’m using athena, where my course software is stored…

  18. kimd says:

    Oops, messed that link up… let me try this one, since the author actually knows what she’s talking about when she talks about Athena. It /might/ justify my annoyance with it to you a bit more.

  19. hm says:

    Zak, Kim wasn’t annoyed with you. Read the sentence again.

  20. HITESH says:

    can u tell how to fill and where i can finds the application form

  21. Zak says:

    darn….my mom warned me that i’ll annoy a lot of people by talking too much……(she referred to arguments)….well, im sorry that you dont have control and i understand that to use the clusters its feasible to use athena but why on earth use windows when ubuntu is available…you can convert your probable ntfs or fat32 to an ext1 or ext2 and wipe your windows for ubuntu….and you can still run athena when you need to……..until of course the debathena is released….seeing as its based on ubuntu it prbably takes care of all the glitches…..linux is open source so its free to edit… can customize it the way you want…… sorry about annoying you but: windows??….come on……..if thats the answer i dont even want to know the question…

  22. Timur says:


    Windows does have a lot of advantages over Linux based operating systems that a lot of zealots choose to ignore. Driver support and hardware compatibility is guaranteed by the vendor. Software works out of the box. Games work. For laptops, Windows has the upper hand in battery usage and hardware support.

    Wine, VMWare, “recompiling the kernel — even your grandma can do it!,” emacs’ing configuration files and wading knee deep in support forums is all kinds of fun. Just not the kind of fun you need to be having when you’re up at 3 in the morning with a paper due the next day and CUPS isn’t working. I used to be a diehard zealot too, but the last couple of years I just don’t have the time anymore — Linux became a “weekend and wardriving” operating system for me =/

  23. Timur says:

    Oh — and the handwriting recognition and OneNote on Vista is amazing. I use it for my tablet PC and it’d take a whole lot of convincing to get me to even consider switching.

  24. Zak says:

    @ Timur

    evidently you used the wrong kind of linux to be driven to windows…. you have to install external drivers in windows and its a pain in the neck googling for one that works……in ubuntu 8.04 and up the OS itself tells you which hardware needs drivers, where teh drivers are located, whether theyre secured or not and there’s a little button that will install all of them……so no problem with hardware support……oh yeah linux is open-source and its software libre…….im repeating this…… you can do practically anything…….slackware even has its own version of mac’s famous automator scripts……..handwriting recognition has been around for quite a while…..all you have to do is ask for one on the linux forums or run the windows version through wine (it runs flawlessly)….and i dont knwo what onenote is but i do know what vista is: a monster flop…..ive used it……and i regret doing so……good thing i shifted back to my mac os x leopard on my laptop…and stuck in BSD for my PC……as for the battery life….windows has higher hardware requirements…..meaning it uses more at one time ……compared to linux which only politely asks for 256MB of RAM……vista-minimum 2GB…..more memory ….more power needed…….just 1 example should suffice……i feel sorry that you couldnt bear to expirement , i really do…(NOTE: I did not intend to offfend anyone during this argument)_

  25. Anonymous says:

    There haven’t been any blogger posts in close to 4 days. I’m going into withdrawals.

  26. deng says:

    @last anon
    yea… but you really can’t blame them since they have finals around this time. must be hectic…
    hope that’ll be me next year :-D

  27. Brandon says:

    @deng & @last anon

    I’m dying too. I wish someone, ANYONE, would give us some sort of update, even if it’s that they’re 1/64th of the way through the apps…

    Ahhhhhhhh! smile

  28. Narce says:

    XD That would be a great update from Matt!

    “So, we’re 1/64 of the way through the apps….”

    “The 20th might have been a bad estimate.”

  29. ak says:


    I am from India and I graduated from my 12th in June 2008 and have already joined a college,but I wish to restart at MIT as a freshman by giving TOEFL and 2 SAT2s in Jan2009.Is it alright.
    Reply soon!

  30. kimd says:

    @ak I think you can apply to start at MIT, but the deadlines are coming up soon. These are some links about the deadlines and about being an international student: [url=”” rel=”nofollow”]. <a href=”” rel=”nofollow”> <a href=”” rel=”nofollow”> It is possible that you would have to apply as a transfer student, since by the time you got here you would have been at the other college for more than a year. I’m not the best person to ask about that though. Can someone who knows comment on this? Check out <a href=”” rel=”nofollow”> for info on being a transfer student. In any case, you will have to move quickly if you want to get all of the materials in on time. Good luck!

  31. ak says:

    Thanks Kim!
    I went to those links but they say you can “apply” as a transfer student once you have completed a year,i.e you are in your 2nd year.I haven’t completed my 1st year and am applying now.So what should I do?In some places on your site it also says that you have to complete full 2 years to apply for a transfer student.
    Please reply !

  32. AK says:

    But I can’t apply now as a transfer student!Wouldn’t they accept my freshman application for admission in 2009(fall) itself?
    Please reply soon!Also please tell me about my interview problem!!!

  33. kimd says:

    @AK Yes, they will let you apply now as a transfer student. You do not have to have completed a year of college now. You need to have completed a year of college by next September. So you should apply now as a transfer student and finish your first year of college in India. If you get into MIT, you can come in Fall 2009. Keep trying to contact the interviewer, but if you can’t it should not disqualify you, so don’t worry too much about it if it is not possible to contact them.

  34. AK says:

    But how can I apply as a transfer student now?It had to be done in September itself.What should I do?

  35. AK says:

    Ignore the previous comment.
    Just tell me which of these two will give me higher chances of getting in MIT,Math level 1 or level 2(of SAT2)?
    Or should I give both with another subject(i.e.3SAT2 subjects)?

  36. AK says:

    I have emailed my EC 3 times till now but he hasn’t replied yet.What should I do?Deadline’s on 10th Dec.
    Also,I completed my 12th grade in 2008(June) and have joined a college but I really wish to restart at MIT as a freshman in 2009(fall).Is it alright if I apply as a freshman?

  37. kimd says:

    I’m sorry, but I don’t know the answers to these questions. My guess is that MIT would prefer that you apply as a transfer student, since you will have completed some college already. You may still begin with freshman classes, though. Good luck!

  38. kimd says:

    Both tests are accepted for admission to MIT. If you think you will do well on level 2, I recommend that. (But please remember that I have NOTHING to do with admissions decisions.)