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Flashback to July 27th

Hey guys, sorry this is late. Before I start I want to say we have officially graduated SSP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But as Mr. Bowdon said, this is the only the beginning. I feel like with everything that has happened and us always being in the moment everything has sort of blended together. So I just want to make a list of everything that memorable that has happened at SSP so that we will always remember these 5 ½ weeks. Here I go:

1. Riley giving us a potato on the first day
2. The first formal dinner (remember when we all actually dressed up)
3. Sprinklers and sidewalks
4. Rengstorf’s love of trees as seen through the way he wanted us to hand in HW
5. Dr. Anderson’s retina problem
6. Cocoa puffs and Lucky Charms
7. “Mystical.” – Anderson
8. “Weight does not exist.” -3rd math lecture
9. “It’s actually 2 hours 23 minutes.” -Daniel M.
10. “Collisions are going to collide.” -Anderson
11. “Back to back world war champs.” -Nick making fun of Germany during a soccer game
12. “Have you ever been in love?” -either Lili or Afura
“Yes.” – Mathis
“Oooh…” – a bunch of us
“With physics.” – Mathis
13. “Did you get 58 minutes? Almost a full minute.” – Malick when comparing answers for a HW problem
14. When Aaron said, “There are many ways to ask someone to pass the salt shaker. One way is to ask, another way is to point at it or you could do this.” *demonstrates by spazzing out and then a couple days later, Dave during lunch/dinner did the same move to ask Aaron for the salt
15. “What do I know? Oh wait, I have a PhD.” -Rengstorf
16. “Is anyone else left handed?” -Rengstorf
*ZD raises hand*
“Do you have trouble keeping your shoes tied?” -Rengstorf
17. “Arpit, are you done with SSP?” -Jason
“I’m done with life” -Arpit
18. Mathis during his lecture “It’s obvious that I love physics. But what I really love is food.”
19. Boatman
20. “Stars do star stuff.” -Rengstorf
21. Rahul learned how to properly say Penelope
22. Daniel learned how to properly use a mechanical pencil
23. “The constant is constant.” – Arian
24. “The constant is not constant.” – Dr. Rengstorf
25. Karaoke night: Luke and Alex dancing to My Humps; Nick, Alex D., and Mathis singing to Disco Pogo
26. Jwerking parties
27. Murder Mystery
28. Dancing party and the salsa dancing (thank god for Afura or we would all be lost that day)
29. Saturday movie night
30. “Not” eating in the lab
31. The day our rivalry with CUB started, (which we are of course won)
32. The never working computers, remember how they froze every five seconds, how the mouse pointer always disappeared and everything else they failed to do
33. Jake from IT
34. Daniel’s nothing but elliptical orbit
35. Neha’s COOOOOOOkies
36. Rosita’s olives
37. Jason’s accents
38. Daniels T.’s necessary buys from Walmart (water speakers, donuts, 10 dollar beef jerky…)
39. Rahul shushing Rengstorf
40. Luke winning Assassins
41. Jason killing Andersen
42. Rosita’s gravity bruises
43. Everything being, of course, platonic
44. Arian’s girlfriend
45. Aaron’s test cases
46. Janitors closet and TAs
47. Duck pond
48. Arian’s version of taking a picture with the telescope
49. NIRO and Rengstorf’s platonic love for it
50. SOTS
51. Pokemon Go + Rebecca’s obsession
52. Haxball
53. Tagpro
54. Kwibo ubuntu and his slaying of everyone in Tagpro
55. Gucci
56. Drinking games
57. Cross and dot product, which is something you of course do with your entire body
58. Kathryn’s singing and guitar playing
59. Annie P. and Nick’s juggling
60. Nick’s “SLEWING!!!!” + Diana’s rendition
61. Epic Sax Guy
63. When Mathis giggles like a little girl as he tells his own jokes
64. Rengstorf’s slaying of “What Teachers Make”
65. And every other moment we spent together

I just want to say that these are not in order, they are just in the order that I remembered them by. SSP was one of the hardest and most fulfilling things I have ever had to do and I know it would not have been as great as it was without all of you guys. I miss you all sooooooo much and will miss our time together but I know that we will see each other in the future. Until next time… Once an SSPer, always an SSPer.



Flashback to July 25th

Where’s Bruce Willis when you need him?! Today we discovered that at least a few of our asteroids might slam into the Earth and end life as we know it. Or at least that’s what our friends at Southwest Research Institute showed us. The last couple days we’ve been running simulations to determine the possible fates of our asteroids within the uncertainty of the orbits. It’s alarming how many end up smacking into us. (At least we’ll be long dead by then)

We also got to go up and take pretty pictures of the M20 nebula. I suggest you google it to see what it looks like. It’s amazing!

Best of all, we rediscovered the healing power of sleep. This holistic all natural treatment was bestowed upon us by Shaman Rengstorf as a reward for completing the OD. It was glorious until I decided to stay up until 3 and squandered it. Oh well.
Running the simulations calls for a lot of waiting around. To pass the time we’ve had an impromptu movie night (The Man from UNCLE), deep meaningful conversations with Mathis about Germany and his childhood, and then there was this:
 I don’t know what I’ll do without Mathis 😦

-Alex D.

July 24: Humans of SSP

There is only one day left of SSP (when considering factors of order unity and my desire to sensationalize this post). My favorite part of SSP has been the people, so this post will focus on the people here.

32 out of 35 SSPers were kind enough to take my Myers Briggs personality survey. Using this data, I compared SSP personality type frequencies to global personality frequencies. Here is a brief explanation of the Myers Briggs classification scheme:

For more info on this, or to take the test:

Survey Results

Personality Type Global Frequency SSP Frequency
ISFJ 13.8% 6.3%
ESFJ 12.3% 3.1%
ISTJ 11.6% 6.3%
ISFP 8.8% 0%
ESTJ 8.7% 6.3%
ESFP 8.5% 3.1%
ENFP 8.1% 6.3%
ISTP 5.4% 6.3%
INFP 4.4% 15.6%
ESTP 4.3% 0%
INTP 3.3% 6.3%
ENTP 3.2% 9.4%
ENFJ 2.5% 9.4%
INTJ 2.1% 15.6%
ENTJ 1.8% 3.1%
INFJ 1.5% 3.1%


In the American tradition of ending things with “Most Likely To” lists, I decided to do one for everyone else at SSP. To make it more entertaining, it’s anonymous. I will, however, confirm or deny if you ask me whether a specific description applies to you. Many are obvious. Here it goes:

Most likely to star in a movie where the character has a southern accent.

Most likely to dance in the sprinklers with you after knowing you for five minutes.

Most likely to have read the obscure science fiction book written by the guest speaker’s husband (who totally doesn’t like James Cameron as much as his wife).

Most likely to sing Adele better than Adele.

Most likely to write a textbook about the method of Gauss & send Dr. Rengstorf a free copy.

Most likely to invent olive-flavored ice cream.

Most likely to find a flute-based cure for depression.

Most likely to never cross paths with a donut.

Most likely to become rich and famous from ceramics.

Most likely to come up with a mathematical proof that he is the most efficient debugging method.

Most likely to tell you to mispronounce his name because only his family pronounces it correctly.

Most likely to sing opera while “semi-hard coding” (without an input file, obviously).

Most likely to be talking on the phone at any given time.

Most likely to become an expert in contemporary Korean culture.

Most likely to never break up with his girlfriend (who totally exists).

Most likely to start his own sensational internet  meme.

Most likely to attend YSPA next year.

Most likely to go to become an MIT professor after going there for college and grad school.

Most likely to become an actual legend.

Most likely to become a famous artist.

Most likely to be found hugging someone at any given time.

Most likely to wake up early on Sunday to do math olympiad prep.

Most likely to go to Princeton.

Most likely to practice Dr. Andersen’s kinesthetic learning with parallel angles relative to the desk during lecture.

Most likely to be found with coco puffs at any given time.

Most likely to compound every adjective with “-[3 letters. Censored by the TAs]”

Most likely to show up under Merriam Webster Visual Dictionary’s entry for ‘sarcasm.’

Most likely to get rich by acting in a shampoo advertisement.

Most likely to start the veggie burger equivalent of McDonalds.

Most likely to eat pineapple while helping everyone else debug.

Most likely to give you a nickname.

Most likely to take time out of her day to teach you samba.

Most likely to know every political news story before you.

Most likely to be found sitting outside on a bench at 1 A.M.


Favorite pictures from SSP:

(Can also be used as hints for the above puzzle)


Pictures from our various excursions.

So this happened (with sax music).

A trash can which is obviously not in the lab, because no food is allowed in the lab (even if it has no nutritional value and is arguably not food.)

Three seconds into a given lecture break.

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My favorite part of campus.

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Old-fashioned coding techniques that you would never find at YSPA (or anywhere else, actually).

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New Mexico Tech as seen during walks taken not so much to things, but away from them.

-Anna Ka.

July 23

WE DID IT!!! (Turned in our OD Report)

I’ve never been more relieved


…..and of course, proud of my hard work.

Cheers to surviving SSP!!!

I really like it here at SSP. And it’s honestly surprising because I’ve never been so stressed, and exhausted, and dehydrated, etc. etc. SSP is like nerd boot camp, and after I submitted my OD report, I felt like some special ops trained scientist ready to tackle science, I mean the REAL science that Dr. Rengstorf emphasizes so much. Whenever people say SSP is over in three days, I block the thought from my mind because I don’t want to leave here, and especially don’t want to leave you guys. I mean I like it back home…..but at SSP, everything’s better. But we will eventually leave, so I wanted to say thanks guys, for the awesome experience and the amazing memories.

What more can I say…. well I can say what I’ll miss.

I’ll miss the 3 hour lectures in which the only thing keeping me alive are Coco Puffs

I’ll miss the word “mystical”, because I’m pretty sure Dr. Anderson is the only person who uses that word so frequently.

I’ll miss the sprinklers, they really became my friends these past couple of weeks.

I’ll miss the freezing computers.

I’ll miss the terms: “Good ‘ol”, “What a G”, and “What a legend”

I’ll miss the problem sets, especially Astro 8.5

I’ll miss the late night coding sessions.

I’ll miss the bugs in my code.

I’ll miss the movie nights.

I’ll miss the buffet meals.

I’ll miss the precious 5 minute Rengstorf breaks and luxurious 15 minute Andersen breaks.

I’ll miss all the amazing people I met here.

I’ll miss it all.

But that’s in the future, and I really need to go to bed (it’s 2:00 am) , so I’ll see you guys tomorrow.

Here’s a cute picture of us celebrating:



July 22

The pressure is real. Expectations are high; unfortunately I doubt they’ll be met.

Sounds like I’m talking about the OD code? That would be too clichéd. There have been enough well written posts elegantly complaining about the stress while being hilarious at the same time. What’s really terrifying is having to follow these masterpieces, knowing that you’ll probably disappoint. But since this is apparently compulsory I can pretend like I know what I’m talking about.

As I sit down to write this blog, taking a break from our K-pop late night dance parties, all I can do is worry about how to convey the most clichéd ‘feels’ through a sarcastic post that seems to convey the exact opposite. The most difficult thing about these short posts is being put on the spot. Do I talk about our crazy homework? Do I complain about our test cases (that may seem funny on the blog but they make up the most frustrating moments I’ve spent at this program)? Or do I go the boring way and talk about my great friends (strictly platonic of course) and great professors and great memories etc. etc.? Or should I just write a blog about how I’m incapable of writing a blog??

Okay, so let’s begin brainstorming:

  • Every post must jab at *ahem* another group that shall not be mentioned, just to see it posted with all of the jabs removed.
  • Each post must reference something prominent and funny that took place over the last week, which sucks for me because most of them have already been mentioned.
  • Must reference something stupid that you or your close friend did just to get people talking.
  • Must dedicate an entire paragraph to complaining about something. Anything. Which I think I very cleverly accomplished by complaining about this post itself.
  • Most involve a list of some sort. Well, I guess that’s checked off now.
  • Preferably contains a meme of some sort that may or may not be removed. Or a picture showing how great it is here
  • Or I could talk about my exciting day. JK.I can pretend to know how to write but pretending to have a super exciting day is too much of a stretch.
  • Using complicated words seems to be a trend right now. Maybe I should pull out my thesaurus and talk all fancy.

Who am I kidding? Not only does that sound completely unachievable but also the last set of lectures reminded me that we’ll all be going our separate ways soon. I am genuinely sorry for not being able to just conform and be sarcastic and funny. I just have to get it out of my system.

Looking back, SSP was one of the greatest experiences I have ever had. It was intellectually challenging, demanding and yet allowed me to have more fun than I could have ever imagined. This spectacular set of six weeks seemed fleeting and yet made me feel at home, not only because of the large amounts of math and astronomy I attempted to understand but because of the beautifully crafted, strong bonds I have with the amazing people here. Yes, OD week is stressful.  Yes, the surprise test cases make us annoyed. Yes the slow computers make us want to break the monitors. But behind all the complaints and the whining lies true love for the program and all the memories we have shared here.

Well, I seem to have failed, but I enjoyed writing it anyway. And that’s what matters right? (Please don’t laugh at my blog post. I tried. I really did.) What I did manage to do was the Facebook find of the day! This is our one and only Diana 😀





Extremizing time

Most SSP days begin with intensive mental math. My alarm goes off at 8. Ok, that leaves one hour. If I snooze until 8:40, I can get dressed, brush my teeth and be out of the dorm by 8:50. From there I can jog to Fidel, put 2 pancakes, 2 sausages, and a few pieces of pineapple on my plate. I can finish eating by the time I get to the food disposal section, leave Fidel at 8:57, and arrive in Cramer at 8:59.

Then lecture begins. In today’s lecture, we learned about the Hubble constant, which is not really a constant at all. This sums up time passage at SSP. As the summer has gone on, H has gradually increased. However, H also fluctuates on a day to day basis tends to shrink significantly during lectures, as we create an escape plan to the computer lab for as soon as lectures end. At this point, H switches. You look at the clock and realize that it is already 2 and your OD outputs changed from 5 orders of magnitude off to 5 off in the other direction (still too big to ignore factors of order unity…).

But you’ve already gone through so much… Your mental planning didn’t go as you hoped. Not only did you not make it to Fidel, but you forgot your water bottle, making it even harder to hide your drowsiness. You had to go back to Cramer for your ID before lunch, and the computer you put so much effort into securing has been hijacked. The vending machine ate two of your precious dollar bills with no compensation. You make a sudden realization that you haven’t called your mom in a while, and as you pull out your phone to do so, you discover four missed calls. At this point, you’re done with coding, but still feel the pressure to finish your coding.

So the mental math begins again: How long can I work in order to have to shower and brush my teeth, to still make it to the dorm by 3 am? If I manage to fall asleep by 3:30, I can get a whole five hours and twenty minutes of sleep before lecture tomorrow. I can get another hour by skipping lunch to nap. Do I really need lunch when I still have Oreos from Walmart? How much experience do I need in astronomy to have a chance at SSP? I only have a 1510 PSAT, is that enough? I’m afraid I’m not special enough to get accepted. I have a 4.0 but my school doesn’t rank. Can still get into SSP and then MIT? These are the questions these are the questions that keep me up and have kept me up past 3 am… Please answer, will chance back…


July 20

So I don’t know if anyone has started a countdown yet, but we officially have 7 days left of SSP. It is OD week, which is synonymous with frustration, anxiety, frustration, dread, and more frustration. However, after all this, we will be official SSP Alumni and proceeding on with our unique lives, looking back at this educational experience of a lifetime.

Throughout the past weeks, I have learned a lot about science, staying away from home, and most importantly, myself. In particular, I learned that stupidity is inevitable in science (my character doesn’t help). Our academic director, Dr. Rengstorf, who has a passionate lust for his telescope in Indiana and an awesome right sideburn (that’s my favorite one), told us about how someone dropped out of graduate school because science made her feel stupid. If you can’t deal with feeling stupid most of the times (not understanding things at first or getting frustrated with hours of debugging), then science is probably not right for you.

In order to illustrate this feeling, I have composed a list of 10 things that I have felt stupid about in SSP.

  1. If your code doesn’t work for the test cases… the test cases are likely wrong
  2. If your code does work for the test cases… your code will eventually fail for the fourth, imperative one on your OD.
  3. If you see a random star appear while taking light series… don’t believe Neha when she tells you it’s a star formation.
  4. If you think your asteroid’s semi-major axis is 20+ AU… you are wrong and it is out of your solar system.
  5. If your teammate hurt her foot… telling her that yours does too won’t make her feel better.
  6. If you have a sprained ankle… don’t dance and play soccer. (Trust me.)
  7. If you have a significant other… telling your classmates repeatedly will piss them off.
  8. If you have explosives in your trunk… sitting in the front seat won’t save you (regardless if you can prove it with ε-δ).
  9. If you don’t do your laundry… your SSP wife won’t do it for you (or maintain her “meal plan”) and will divorce you.
  10. If Rebecca tells you to take a picture of your star… she means to do it with the telescope and not with your phone on TheSkyX.


This is a picture from my phone that thinks it’s a telescope.

I wanted to end this blogpost with a method that I have recently discovered, through experimentation, of how to remove “OD Stress.” While many of you may think it’s sleep, you’d be surprise when I tell you that the answer lies in a $30 6”x 6” majestic alpaca named Fu-Fee. I have found a way to ameliorate all pain in this world through this glorious animal. It was purchased by no other than Lucy herself, who has become scarred by my propensity towards the animal. Its wool is made from actual alpaca wool and is softer than any cloud in the universe. If one finds him or herself to come across Fu-Fee, one cannot resist the temptation of grabbing Fu-Fee and caressing his softness. If you close your eyes, you can feel the majestic alpaca purr into your chest and all your stress leaving your body. If you haven’t removed your stress yet, or just want to experience the magical experience of a lifetime, then stop by the downstairs computer lab and grab (with special care) Fu-Fee. You’ll thank me later 😉

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