Oberlin Blogs

Progress Report

March 10, 2011

Sophia Chen ’12

It's been a while since I last updated. So what is new in the life of Sophia?

1)Winter Term ended.

I contributed to 4 different educational videos, some of which are in the editing phase, and some of which have not yet reached their filming stage.

I did learn a cool trick: did you know that you can use a watch as a compass? If you point the hour hand at the sun and bisect the angle formed between the hour hand and the 12, that bisector points north and south. The rule to determine north from south: before noon, bisect the angle that is formed when you go counterclockwise from the 12 to the hour hand. After noon, bisect the angle that is formed clockwise from the 12 to the hour hand. That line will always point south. 

Also, I went to Hawaii for two days. I landed an internship there this summer to do atmospheric physics research, so they let me check out housing and the accommodations before I committed. I got off the plane into 75˚ weather, and I committed. This summer, I will get to shoot a big ole laser up into the sky to measure light scattering off aerosols. In other news, I ate fresh fish for every meal while I was there.

2)I have new classes.

-Electricity & Magnetism: I used to think that multivariable calculus was God poking you with a big stick. No more. I get to set up multiple integrals in E&M and I like it.

-Public Policy: Paul Dawson in the politics department teaches this class. He's well-known for his unconventional teaching tactics. So far, I would describe this class as a discussion that teaches you how to win at the game of life without sacrificing your values. We've been conducting fake negotiations, reading case studies, learning how to write a resume, and learning how to interrupt constructively during discussion.

-Chinese: we read classical Chinese intermittently with modern articles. Li laoshi makes fun of us and likes to write example sentences that depict us engaging in debauchery.

-Chinese Calligraphy: This class assigns the most relaxing homework. I can't stop doing it.

-Research in Atomic Physics with Professor Jason Stalnaker: The plan is to conduct an experiment that measures the atomic energy transitions of potassium to excruciatingly high accuracy. I get to shoot a green laser at a titanium-sapphire crystal, and I also get to shoot a multi-colored laser at a sample of potassium.

-Jazz piano: I got a new teacher, who is teaching me new voicings and improvisation techniques. It's killin'.

-Massage Therapy Exco: Once a week, I practice massage techniques on a fellow student in the Exco. Then we switch, and I get a free massage. My friend Sam, who's a licensed therapist as well as a fellow physics major, teaches it.

-Documentary China Exco: We've been watching historical documentaries on China. The past couple weeks, we've been learning about the Cultural Revolution and watching documentaries with primary source footage as well as historical Communist propaganda. It's totally awesome because the movies depict the China where my parents grew up.

3)The precipitation in Oberlin has changed from snow to rain. Progress.

3.5) Wait, no, the rain has become frozen again. Two steps forward, one step back.

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