Friday, June 7, 2013

Monday, April 1, 2013

I'm Sorry, I Don't Speak English

I "finished" with school! And by "finished," I actually mean not finished at all. I completed my classes, but I officially start my thesis work tomorrow. Even with all this work to do, I made sure to plan some time to travel. I went to Dublin, Glasgow, and finished in Manchester.

Dublin is a really fun place! It seems that every night the locals go to bars and get quite loopy. Don't they work the next day? I witnessed a grown Irishman perform a headstand, and then proceed to chug a Guinness while still on his head. Of course I went to the Guinness Storehouse. It turns out it takes ~2 minutes to pour a proper pint.

I have fallen in love with Glasgow. Glasgow feels like a long lost uncle to Seattle. A fancy uncle who is into pretty architecture and scotch. I didn't think it was possible, but I found a university that is on par with the University of Washington in terms of aesthetics. It's the University of Glasgow. Glasgow has a similar music scene to Seattle, it seems. I went to some random show in the basement of a bar and ran into these fine gentlemen. Oh Glasgow, I wish I had known about you earlier.

I learned that people from Manchester are called "Manc," but the word "mank" can also mean disgusting. Well that is just daft! The people are very friendly, and the city is quite nice. There are lots of pubs, cafés, and an entire mile of Indian food. Also, the city that Karl Pilkington comes from can't possibly be bad. I have no idea why The Smiths were so miserable, but thank goodness they were.

Cheeky Oscar Wilde is cheeky

Infamous Guinness harp

Glasgow Cathedral

University of Glasgow

Isn't this just the most picturesque landscape of all time?


John Rylands Library

Manchester Cathedral

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Pretty Blue Police Sirens

Oh, hai there! I'm a little late on the update. I've been super busy, okay? When you move to France and you start your own blog, you can update it as often as you want. I promise I won't complain. 

Do you remember that pretty picture I came up with a few months ago? Well, the experiment I ran resulted in nothing like it. At all. Oh well.

What in God's name do these colors mean? I have absolutely no idea. SCIENCE! 

I went to Paris to see some friends that have visited from Los Angeles. Despite what you hear about L.A. pieces of it are quite nice! Only pieces of it though. The rest of is is god awful. Why would anyone willfully decide to live there? Anyway, we decided to go to the traditional tourist places. It's hard to go wrong with visiting arguably the greatest museum in the entire world.

Asian girl doing I don't know what.

If I were a holy man, I would have a pet lion also.
What does it take to become a saint? Have a machete lodged in your head? I would totally do that,

A child choking a goose. Because it's art, that's why.

Guy is serious business.

Having these friends of mine visit was really fun! But it also felt a little strange. It felt like they didn't belong here. Except I am just like them, so I don't belong here either. We are strangers. They made me see how strange it is that I am here. Some American guy who speaks very little French: what am I doing here? Learning about turbulence? Yeah, I guess so. But why France? Why these strange people who say "alors" and "putain" all the time? Why these people who carry baguettes everywhere they go? Why this strange land that blames the Romanians for giving them horse meat instead of beef?  It's because some of the greatest minds are French. Laplace, Lagranged'AlmbertFourierCarnotBoussinesqGalois (my hero), Navier; they're all French. That's why I am here. To learn from the best.

It's been decided that I will stay in France until at least September. I will be studying the aeroacoustic instabilities on a plasma torch that is used for the coating of materials. Maybe turbine blades need some ceramic coating for thermal protection? Maybe an airfoil needs an anti-friction coating to reduce drag? I dunno!

I really like living in France. One of my favorite things is waking up on a Saturday morning, and tuning into KEXP. You see, France is +9 hours ahead of Seattle. So when I wake up, Seattle is heading home from a hard night out. If I were in Seattle, I wouldn't have a chance to listen to the radio, because I would be just one of the many people trying to get home. But I am not in Seattle! I am lucky enough to catch KEXP in the twilight hours. The hours where magic happens. The hours where no one else is paying attention. Only you and the moonlight and the 41 bus heading to home. It's like the entire city belongs to you and only you. The feeling you get is strange. But other people have felt it too. I'm not really sure what to call it, but some people refer to it as "the night bus" or "dream pop" and they have dedicated a type of music to the feeling you get during this time. If you've ever taken the bus from downtown at ~3am on a cold, rainy, and quiet night, then you're already familiar with the feeling this kind of music gives you. Here is a small example: 

Also, I got to talking to someone about intelligent design the other day. One of their arguments was that the universe had to have a designer. There is no way that the world could be so perfect and orderly without a creator. How could order come from chaos? This seems like a nice thought, and I wish it were true.

Well, let me tell you. The world is not orderly. At all. The world is constantly trying to kill us. (See today's huge fucking meteor strike.) The world is almost always in chaos and instability. Even something as simple as cooking spaghetti in your kitchen is a case for a chaotic and unstable system. Will it rain tomorrow? I have no idea! The weather might be modeled as a chaotic system and can only be described by probability. If a butterfly flaps its wings in the Atlantic ocean, will it cause a hurricane in California? It's possible, I don't know. There is chaos. Everywhere! All the time! Forever! So whenever someone tells you that the world is so perfect and orderly and how could that come from chaos, you call them out on their B.S. Even with something as simple as cooking spaghetti, the world is chaotic. 

In my humble opinion, this is what makes the world beautiful. The world would be terribly boring if you already knew what was going to happen. There would be no need for philosophers or scientists or ethicists or engineers. Everything would already be known. A very horrible existence, no? If you already know all the answers, it means you're asking boring questions. (courtesy of a softer world)

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Pope Does Not Tweet in Latin

Happy (late) New Year! Whooooo! I hope this last year was pretty great for you all, and I hope this coming year will be just fine also. As usual, I'm super busy. I spent my Friday night writing a lab report about the power level of an acoustic source in a semi-anechoic chamber. I did this while drinking a bottle of Spanish wine. I'm pretty sure it's the greatest lab report of all time.

I spent my New Year in Prague. Prague is probably one of the most beautiful cities I've ever been to. It felt like everywhere you looked, there was a a big castle or something made out of gold or something with a lot of history. For instance, I went to Prague Castle and saw the exact window where defenestrations would occur. A local made a really great pun about it. There were some people that survived their fall by hitting something soft before hitting the ground. The Czechs bounced, as it were.

Some friends and I had a nice New Years Eve dinner with lots of food and drink. At the stroke of midnight, we went out to the restaurant balcony with a bottle of champagne and watched fireworks go off. And good God, did fireworks go off! On every street in Prague, there was something exploding. It was pretty amazing.

Next up was Munich. I want to live in Munich. I stayed at a hostel and met a guy from Hong Kong, and another guy from Seoul. We went to the world famous beer hall, Hofbräuhaus (Mozart was rumored to frequent this place quite a bit) and ordered liters of beer, bratwurst, and pig knuckle (it tastes better than it sounds). It was honestly some of the best beer of my life. We were joined by an Italian couple. They were dressed all in black with random metal bands on their clothing. They were Italian metalheads. They didn't speak much English, so I tried speaking a strange Spanish/French hybrid with them. It worked out pretty well, and we spoke about things like religion, bunga bunga, and how horrible Italian beer is. We all ended up spending the night chatting and drinking liter after liter of delicious beer until closing time. It was such an amazing experience just connecting with random people from different backgrounds like that. It almost sounds like a joke: a Mexican, a Chinaman, a Korean, and Italian metalheads walk into a bar...

My last stop was Zürich. Zürich is a wonderful place! It felt like a very clock-themed city. There are clock towers everywhere, and Switzerland is known for their fancy watches. Although the city seems to be very time-themed, the people of Zürich are very laid-back people who just go with the flow. Maybe it was just the people I was hanging out with. I explored the city, bought some Swiss chocolate, and went to see an Italian physicist rock out with his band. I was also introduced to the magic that is Toss My Body

Prague Castle off in the distance.

Astronomical clock in Prague.

Rathaus-Glockenspeil in Munich.

Hofbräuhaus in Munich, the happiest place on Earth.

Clock towers in Zürich.

Along the river in Zürich.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Early Mornings and Late Nights

I'm late in posting and I'm very sorry!

I've been incredibly busy trying to come up with a way to calculate dispersion relations. I've also been busy making some noise in an aeroacoustics lab (see below). By the way, did you know that math is everywhere? Math can be so festive!

I have a few trips coming up. First, I'm going back home for for about a week. Then, I'll be in Prague for the New Year. After that, it's off to Munich and then to Zurich. SOOOO excited! It's probably going to be crazy cold, but that's okay. If I don't die from frostbite, I'll be sure to post some pictures. An added bonus is that I'll be flying with Icelandair on my way back to the US. Iceland seems like such a friendly little island, so I'm curious to see what their airline is like. Maybe they'll play Sigur Rós throughout the flight?

Lastly, here are some good words to remember in the wake of yesterday's events. Courtesy of Mr. Rogers:

"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of 'disaster,' I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers - so many caring people in this world."

At any given moment, this is what my computer screen looks like.

Disco power is amplified in the aeroacoustics lab.

Christmas market in the center of Poitiers.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Soundtrack to Eating Scottish Seabirds

Classes have started. So far, so good. I took up a personal project that involves what is called a circular, hydraulic jump. You can see a simple example of a hydraulic jump by turning on your kitchen sink. The ring of water that forms at the bottom of the sink is the hydraulic jump. Well, it turns out that this thing appearing in your kitchen can be used as a model for the time-reversed equivalent of a black hole, aka a white hole. A black hole sucks everything up and nothing can escape, not even light. Well a white hole spits everything out, and nothing can get in. In the kitchen sink, you can see little waves traveling out towards the ring, but you don't see waves traveling in. Just like a white hole! Who would have thought that fluid dynamics is analogous with the weirdest, craziest things happening in the universe?

My professor sent me a bunch of papers to read. Papers about things like quantum field theory, general relativity, time-reversal, and Hawking radiation. These topics are things super insanely intelligent theoretical physicists study. One of the papers even calls Stephen Hawking's calculation of the event horizon temperature as "naive." I'm in way over my head, but I would much rather be overwhelmed than underwhelmed.

I went to Bordeaux. Twice! Once to go exploring, and once to see one of my favorite bands of all time, Godspeed You! Black Emperor. I've heard that there is a bit of a rivalry between Paris, the largest city in France, and Bordeaux, the second largest city. I won't add anything to fuel this rivalry, but what I will say that I really REALLY like Bordeaux. Of course, I made sure to try some wine while I was there. I also had a funny exchange with a bartender:

"Good evening. What kind of beer is the Waggle Dance?"
"It's a honey beer. You're American, right? Yeah, maybe you would like it."

My professor took some classmates and me to visit the Château de Clos Lucé. This was the place Leonardo da Vinci spent the last years of his life. Everyone knows Leonardo da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa, and that he's one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (that's right, Michael Bay, both teenage AND mutant). However, he was also an engineer and an inventor. A really good one. Some of his inventions didn't work so well, but the principles they were based on made sense. Very impressive, especially for someone in his day.

One of my schools, École Nationale Supérieure de Mécanique et d'Aérotechnique. This building was designed to be slanted so that it looks like a crashed spaceship.

Basilique Saint-Michel.

Lots of nice little shops and cafés and restaurants.

Le miroir d'eau.

Pont de Pierre.

Leonardo da Vinci's study room.

"Movement is the cause of all life."

Courtyard at Château de Clos Lucé.

da Vinci's precursor to the helicopter.

da Vinci's design for a military tank.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Mon Aéroglisseur est Plein d'Anguilles

Classes start next week. The schedule is still being planned but, from what I know, I will be having Aeroacoustics (with associated lab), Advanced Signal Processing (with associated lab), Turbulent Heat Transfer, French Language, and a personal project in which I get to chose a topic to work on. I'm thinking combustion, maybe? These are all set for before Christmas. After Christmas, it's looking like I'll have a modeling class (RANS stuff), Stability, Compressible Turbulence, and more Advanced Signal Processing. Good God, these sound hard.

I've been in Poitiers for about a month now. During that time I've been exploring Poitiers and seeing all sorts of super old churches, hanging out at cafes, and studying French, often with funny results (see below). I'm planning on going to a city called Bordeaux this weekend. Bordeaux is pretty much the wine capital of the world. We'll see how it goes! 

Baptisére Saint-Jean, this was built in 360 AD and is thought to be the oldest church in France.

A super awesome cafe/library/bar. I'm planning on doing a lot of "studying" here.

Things shut down from 12:00pm to 2:00pm. Everyday. Lunch time is serious business!

Creepy headless statue in a church courtyard.

This study method is giving me the wrong impression about France.

Don't listen to them, little guy. You can do anything you put your mind to. You're such an inspiration.

P.S. Here are some clips from an old British show called Trigger Happy TV. Probably the greatest hidden camera show of all time. Hilarious scenes complimented by great music.