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:




That time when a student…

  • finds their asteroid for the first time


  • tells me how much fun she’s having working on a conservation of angular momentum problem at 11pm on a Saturday night.
  • realizes I’ve never done a differential correction, but I’m asking them to do it anyway
  • stays up late helping a teammate debug a code
  • realizes the stuff he heard in the classroom is not enough to answer a question on the problem set
  • looks up additional ways to solve the problem because the two ways presented in lecture and the handouts just isn’t enough ways
  • decides to spend their last summer as a high-school student away from home learning about astronomy, physics, and coding instead of making pizzas for $5/hr under the table like I did when I was their age

Damn, I love this job.

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 😉

image03  image00