Thursday, June 9, 2011

Greetings from a little-known place ('s funny, cause you all live here during the year...see?)

Hi all!  It’s Sophie.  I apologize in advance for what will surely be a very VERY long-winded and possibly incoherent post.  In order to minimize hazardous effects (perhaps?), I will divvy it up into artificially constructed categories: UROP, cooking/music/other junk, and campus/LMF people and adventures.  See?  Not so bad.
UROP:  This said thing is going alright.  For those of you who don’t know, I’m working in a course 1 lab, specifically, the Laboratory for Atomistic and Molecular Mechanics.  It’s a group that does computer simulations of molecules.  The grad student whom I am working for is doing a project focused on defects (specifically, atomic vacancies) in carbon nanotubes, and how these defects affect the overall mechanical properties of the tube.  The motivation is that, in order to use CNTs for most practical applications, like materials for instance, you’ve gotta scale up from single tubes.  However, as soon as you start crosslinking multiple tubes, you’re going to introduce defects into the single tubes... question is, can the ultimate material still have the desirable properties of CNTs, in spite of inherent defects?  From what I understand, the ultimate goal of simulating these defects is to better understand all this stuff.  We’re also trying to see whether St. Venant’s principle (utilized mainly for large engineering structures like bridges) holds for CNTs as well…if you wanna know what this is, ask me and I’ll try to explain.  No guarantees though…I’m actually pretty ashamed at how superficially I comprehend the project.  But moving on…so far, my job has been this:  Take pre-written script for perfect CNT that stretches the virtual tube and outputs stress strain: delete random atom from coordinate file (i.e the “defect”).  Run simulation.   Wait 4 hours.  Graph stress/strain in excel, both for entire CNT and just for defect region.  Look at visual representation of simulation run in molecular visualization program.  Take pretty snapshots of said visualization.  Rinse and repeat, only with more deleted atoms.  Annoying thing was, the code my supervisor gave me did some funky things…instead of just getting stretched to the breaking point in the axial direction like it was supposed to, the tube just looked at me, and was all like “what up, dog, you think I’m gonna follow a SCRIPT??  Think again”, and instead promptly kinked 90 degrees and exploded into a million little carbon atoms (made for some entertaining visualizations though).  I take great comfort in the fact that this was NOT MY FAULT.  In any case, we finally got it running “correctly” (note the quotations) yesterday, so at least we’re starting to make some progress.  It’s interesting work, though sometimes the slowness, and the fact that I’m not making huge leaps and bounds doing ultracool things, while not at all surprising, is a tiny bit frustrating.  My subconscious self has gotten a kick out of some of the conversations Shaun and I have had about our UROPs.  They go something like this (I’m paraphrasing just a tiny bit).
Sophie:  What did you do in your UROP today Shaun?
Shaun:  It was amazing…I disproved the theory of ultra-dilation of the neuronal octagonal cortex and read 20 peoples’ minds today. [like I said, paraphrasing, coming from a layperson completely clueless about cog sci.  Translation to said person’s brain: REALLY AWESOME COOL STUFF]
Shaun:  What did you do today Sophie?
Sophie:..Um, well, today, the nanotube bent counterclockwise.  Yesterday it bent clockwise.

Ah well.  It’s still pretty cool, in spite of my jabs.  My direct supervisor (i.e the grad student) is super chill and just an all-around pleasant person to be around.  Also amusing at times.  Case in point:  A few days ago, I realized after I went home that I sent a simulation to the wrong directory, and emailed him asking him what to do.  At 2 am I got this reply:

“We’ll deal with it tomorrow.  Just got back from the Bruins game.  Half drunk.  We won 8-1.  WAHHOOOOOO!!!!!”

Like I said.  Awesome guy.

And now for some nanotube pictures:

Before breaking


Cooking/Music/other junk (this section’s shorter, I promise):  So, this Summer I’m cooking exclusively vegetarian food (still eat meat at restaurants though).  So far it’s gone fairly well, though I’m getting a bit sick of tofu and tempeh stir fry.  Next up is fried rice, then spaghetti squash.  Note:  Mashed sweet potatoes with a bit of cinnamon are AMAZING, fyi.

I’ve also been listening to a lot of Marilyn Manson (nee Bryan Warner) lately.  Most of his original songs are absolute garbage, but he does some nice covers.  I’ve also watched a few interviews with him, and he actually comes across as a moderately intelligent, well-spoken, almost polite man.  Go figure.  I always find it surprising when modern celebrities appear to have IQs higher than two year olds, specially an, ahh, interesting celebrity such as himself. 

But for more interesting music-related news:  When I went home after finals, my mom showed me some youtube videos of the band Dog Leather.  This is a “music group” (that’s not the right word for it, but sure, whatever) lead by my second cousin, Max.  They’re actually moderately successful and recently toured in Europe if I’m correct.  They’re…fascinating…don’t know what else to say.  My dad’s response for one of the videos was this: “Ellen, reboot the computer…something’s wrong with the sound.”  Mom: “No.  That’s the music”.  Here’s a link to a music video they did.  My cousin’s the guy with the dark hair and moustache…watch at your own risk. 

And you guys wonder about my little quirks.

And finally, campus/lmf people:  Ok, so I’m actually kind of sad about how little people seem to interact here over the summer.  I was hoping to, ya know, be all social-like and meet some cool friends outside of LMF, but most people keep their doors shut all the time here.  The two events organized by our RA were canceled due to lack of interest (Shaun and I were the only people who expressed interest in going to the zoo…seriously, guys??).  Hopefully it’ll pick up as more people arrive on campus?  I dunno.  In any case, Shaun, Ben, Daniel and I are back on campus, and Juan and Anna will both be here by Saturday.  Then Sumin’s coming in a week…super excited!! J  Also, Shaun, Ben and I had an exciting adventure around Boston last night (see facebook for details).  We also came to the conclusion that, out of all the possible permutations/combinations of 3 people in the world, the group of Shaun, Ben and Sophie is quite possibly THE WORSE combination to go out into the city together without external supervision…none of us will make decisions.  As a consequence, when we get lost, knowing can decide which route to try or who to ask for help, so instead we just keep walking (the earth’s round…we’ll get back at SOME POINT, right?)  Nevertheless, it was very, very fun, and hilarity and ridiculousness abounded.

Ok, that’s finally it (whew).  I miss all of you guys a lot.  Keep posting!  <3

1 comment:

  1. hahahahaha :D I LOVE this post.

    :) You totally understand your UROP project more than you let on in your emails.

    excited to see you!