Seeing Stars

Sunspots are really cool, look at this:


That black smudge is actually a sunspot! Our professor told us to not look into the lens, because the concentrated sun would literally burn a hole through your eye. By projecting the image from the lens further back, we can safely see the sun without going blind. We tried setting some paper on fire, but the sun was still too low in the sky for that to happen.

And this is the beautiful 12in telescope we used to see the sun through. We’ve seen Venus and Jupiter through this as well! A couple pieces of mirror, and we humans are able to see the heavens. Amazing, that.



Look at Me.



Of all the flowers in the garden, this was the one that demanded the most attention. It smelled really nice too. Looks almost like an eye… or the sun, I can’t decide which.

Though I did feel a little bad for the shrubbery huddled around the base of the bush, their little yellow flowers looked so faded in comparison to the bombastic color of this one.


Net Positive

I’d like to think that we are put on the earth for a reason. We’re supposed to make things better for someone, somewhere before we move on. We start with our scales at zero, with each little action adding to the sum total of our lives.

So I can’t understand how people can mess up the algebra of their lives so much so that their scales bleed negatives into others. When a flower pot is about to fall, isn’t it natural to want to catch it? How can someone find so much joy in the sound of broken porcelain?

-Sophie, sad

Not the Main Character

I am the main character in my story. I rather like being one, since the title gives me good authority to claim that my narrative is the correct one. People come and go, either as side characters or as background actors their paths briefly crossing mine. I am their Stormtooper #10, and they are a blurry face in the noise to me.

Not to say that Stormtrooopers aren’t super cool, but they do look awfully similar for some reason…

As I meander through my life, this main character often likes to imagine what life is like through the eyes of random people she passes by on the street. In the closed reference frame of my eyes, my worries and my problems are everything… yet mean nothing to a vast majority of people. It’s calming in a way, seeing how the tornadoes in my life are spring breezes in the grand scheme of things.

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The Universe is Super Old

Because I’m an interesting person and Astronomy is interesting, I’m currently taking it as a class! 😀

Try this one for size. Is this the Universe, or your brain? (Hint: What's the title of this post??)

Try this one for size (haha, see what I did there). Is this the Universe, or your brain?

I’ve learned a lot, but will save the rambling for the future. For today, let’s focus on just one topic– the age of the universe.

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An Introduction to STT-RAM

Spin transfer torque-RAM is really cool, so I’m going to talk about it really quickly. This post assumes that you understand basic terminology like RAM, or electron spins. If you don’t, no worries! Ask Google and come back later! 🙂

As improvements to modern electronic devices approach fundamental limits, we have to start searching for new types of CMOS devices. We can’t shrink MOSFETs down much farther due to quantum tunneling starting to have really big effects along the channel and gate oxide when sizes get down to around 10nm, so we’re beginning the search for other technologies to come take the space of traditional FET technology. Leaky MOSFETs are sad MOSFETs.

Typically, electrons should bounce right off “energy barriers” like wires and the MOSFET gate oxide. However, we must treat electrons in the quantum space when we start to get super small and quantum tunneling becomes a very real problem where electrons “appear” on the other side of the barrier due to the probability waves.

One of the cool emerging technologies is in the space of spintronic devices–in contrast to traditional electronic devices that use level of electron charge to encode data, spintronic devices use the intrinsic angular momentum of an electron. (SO COOL).

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Oh, the greatness of boxes

Boxes are pretty great.

I mean, look at them:

Look at them!!

Boxes are a great way to create distinctions between “this” and “that”. This is inside the box, that is outside. This is the problem I’m addressing right now, that is the one I’ll fix tomorrow. These are the feelings I’m ok with having right now, those are the ones I’ll look at… eh, maybe on spring cleaning day.

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Installing Kinect drivers on Ubuntu 14.04 and ROS Indigo

The XBox Kinect is a surprisingly great sensor that is also really cheap. The combination of the two factors makes it a great sensor to use in Robotics research as an interface for human robot interaction. However, it’s a bit difficult to interface with due to the complicated install process, so this post will walk through the steps of installing OpenNI dependencies for use on ROS Indigo and Ubuntu 14.04.

Unfortunately, NiTE is now proprietary software, so I hope you’ve either found a cached version of it elsewhere, or have found a replacement gesture recognition suite. If so, let me know too please! 😀

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