Touchdown Confirmed

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Welcome to the first post of the semester! Posts will now be on Wednesdays instead of Mondays. It seems like, despite the semester has just started, we already need to think about our activities for next summer. Internship? Study abroad? A job? Based on my experience, this post will make some recommendations for the combination of summer classes and summer research. As for the seemingly unrelated title - well, some events happened this summer that I just couldn't neglect to mention.

During my first college summer, I took biology and speech while doing research. This summer, the class I took was an online English one. The clear advantage of online classes is that there is no set time of day you need to show up in a classroom. Time management is also easier in terms of distributing hours for research. Making sure you have enough time to do quality class work in a punctual manner takes more advanced planning, though, but that is manageable. From the past two summers, I have found that I am more productive in the morning. Since my two classes took up the morning, I dedicated less time to research in the afternoons. However, finding time for research made me more aware of the responsibilities for each class.

This summer, I was more research-oriented. The format of the online class granted more freedom. However, I still stay in touch with some friends I made the first summer. The amount of people on campus is smaller during the summer months, and classrooms seem more intimate. We all would have liked to lounge around and relax, but, for various reasons, we ended up sharing a class.

Either way, research was a valuable component. If you are new to research, summer is a good time explore. If you are already working with a professor, summer research minimizes the workpile waiting in September. Perhaps the best thing about summer research is that it rolls straight into the semester. The image of research as a stream, flowing from summer into fall, connected my thoughts with a few lines from "The Sound of Music":

To laugh like a brook when it trips and falls

Over stones on its way

In August, the currents of my research met a few boulders, a few moments that stood still.


Neil Armstrong's Passing

It was August 25. When I heard the news from my sister, all I could think of was a quote from James Lawrence Powell's Night Comes to the Cretaceous. Because "the moon contains no wind of water to erode the evidence of human visitation," "the first footprint at Tranquility Base will outlast the pyramids and the tallest skyscrapers." That description resonated with me. While it may not have been its intention, the sentence, for me, captures the significance of our landing on the moon.

A few days after Neil Armstrong passed away was the date of a Blue Moon, the second full moon of a month. When I saw the moon, I had to stop and appreciate how amazing it is that some of us have been there.


Curiosity's Landing

The Curiosity rover landed on Mars on August 6. Although NASA offered a stream of the landing, I hesitated about having to get up at 1AM for it. I asked my sister if she would be watching it, and she said yes, because she missed out on the moon landing. She was referring to when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed with Apollo 11. Her argument, oddly logical, dispelled my hesitation.

As the stream loaded, I thought it would be footage from a camera with the rover. Instead, I saw this:

curiosity landing 2.png


The scientists and engineers were just sitting there, working. That is, until my two favorite words of the summer came through: "Touchdown confirmed." I instantly cheered and the room erupted:

curiosity landing 5.png


I truly would like to see such a moment of happiness happen more often. When I started the stream, I noticed "11.1M" displayed for the views. I thought, for a second, that 11.1 million people were tuning in to watch the stream. Then I realized that the total number of views was 11.1 million. Maybe one day livestream events related to science will bring in millions of viewers at once, because what science has to offer is certainly captivating enough.

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Because "the moon contains no wind of water to erode the evidence of human visitation," "the first footprint at Tranquility Base will outlast the pyramids and the tallest skyscrapers."

I've always been fond of attractive sounding sentences and that really sounded amazing. I know it's not your sentence, but the way it was written really captured a lot of emotion for me.

I love that the videocast of the mars landing was a bunch of engineers cheering. It reminds me how joy and unhappiness are measured by the reaction of various people. For example, one of the most important events engraved into my memory is the image of the Portugal-England WC2006 penalty shootout. The hero of the night, Ricardo, the Portuguese goalkeeper used to turn away and face the audience when a Portuguese player took a penalty. When questioned about it later, he said that he was "too nervous, and relied on the reaction of the Portuguese fans to know what the result was"

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