Thursday, October 29, 2009


Even for me the level of stress has been high at work lately. I ended up visiting The Twin a few weeks ago for a weekend, and when I got back on Sunday I discovered that one of my profs had decided to surprise us with a lab. So on the following Monday and Tuesday I was up at the local observatory trying to figure out why the camera suddenly stopped taking images and hauling on a giant 100 year old telescope and praying that the tracking gears didn't turn off by the time we finally got things in focus. I stayed up there until 3am both nights, and we had so much trouble with some of the data that we had to trim some of the parts off the lab, but on the plus side we got some sweet images of Jupiter and resolved a lovely binary despite it being smaller than the seeing would allow.

Scientific aside:
(What I mean by that is that the atmosphere is full of fluctuations that keep you from distinguishing really small things, like two stars that are very very close together. Ie, binaries. Basically the atmosphere bumps your image around so much that you can't distinguish between a point of light that might've come from one star or a point that'd come from the other. But... there are secret methods! Speckle interferometry, specifically. You see the atmosphere is lumpy and tangled and turbulent, but it acts kind of like a whole bunch of lenses (like from your glasses) spread fairly evenly across the sky. So you can use those lenses and some statistical methods to pick out which points of light belong to which of the two stars in a binary and thus figure out how far apart they are! fun!)

Anyway, the Wednesday after that was the day before a large homework set was due so I stayed up until 4am finishing it. Thursday night I started working on the huge set due on Monday, but I also had to plan the picnic, which took up all of Friday and Saturday. Sunday I came in and worked until 3am, Monday until 4am. Tuesday I got home by 2am, and last night (this morning) by 4am.

So basically, sleep deprivation is prevalent, and now I have to start a new lab, a proposal, and a homework set.

It's very strange, though. Once I finish a homework set (especially a big one like I just turned in), a great calm envelopes me. It's cathartic--just letting go and being free. Even if I have a ton of other stuff piling up around me, for a few minutes anyway I feel rested and relaxed.

This weekend I am going to buy a cheap, small laptop from someplace like walmart or AT&T or something. we're talking $200, for reals now.

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