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It was only as I went to write a blog post for today (welcome to the present!) that I realized I hadn’t actually finished my studying according to my plan. Yes, for the first time I have failed to meet my study goals. But given that it is 9:30 PM already, and I am rather tired, I think it is prudent to not try to learn the latter half of the chapter on partial differentiation right now. After all, the goal is to study, not just to put a check in the box. It will just mean a rather busier day tomorrow, or perhaps having to push something into the weekend. Not the end of the world!

What I did get done today (besides an assortment of personal errands and such) was another couple lessons in my Python course. I’m up past 80% complete now! I have another session scheduled tomorrow, and I plan to finish everything except the final project then. Today I learned about bitwise operators, which meant the joy of trying to think in binary. Not impossible, but never as easy as good old base 10!

So today was a little light on the studying, but I’m still satisfied with what I accomplished and looking forward to crushing tomorrow!

I Just Want to Feel Attractive Today

And now we have only a short hop back to Tuesday, June 13. That’s practically today. Tuesday, Thursday, who can keep track of all the T days? *doo-doot doo-doot*

Today I took a break from the mind-bending math but continued with good ol’ Tipler and Mosca. After the lengthy chapters on Monday, I ended up with a short pair of chapters today on The Magnetic Field and Sources of the Magnetic Field. I probably could have balanced this out better when I was making my schedule for the week, but I was just going based off a chapter list. In any case, these were interesting chapters. I especially liked that there was a good section about some practical applications of very basic magnetism concepts—velocity selectors, mass spectrometers, etc. Also I got a chance to look like an idiot at my desk by constantly doing the right-hand rule as I followed along with examples in the text. Good thing I study at home alone!

After the magnetic chapters on magnetism, I picked up with my Codecademy course on Python. Progress has been slower here than I like, but as the lessons are getting a little more complex, they take more time and brainpower, hence slower progress. Still, the end is in sight. I got to play around with creating mathematical functions, which actually felt useful (even though these are actually built in to Python), and got to start on “advanced” topics. Nothing too crazy, but it’s starting to feel a little more natural to get the code down. I also spent five minutes debugging something that turned out to be a single misplaced indent. Oops!

Today’s fun “new” fact: Two straight wires carrying parallel currents will attract each other due to their generated magnetic fields. And in fact, this attractive force is how the SI unit ampere is (currently) defined! The coulomb is then reverse-defined from the ampere.

Photo by Guy vandegrift / CC BY-SA 3.0

Why’d You Have to Go and Make Things So Complicated?

Phew, what a day! My boyfriend is out of town and I managed to keep myself so busy that I missed dinner and started crying while out on my evening walk. I got a lot done, though!

Today’s studying finished out the chapter on complex numbers in Mathematical Methods. It got into hyperbolic functions, and I had some fun showing some of the hyperbolic function identities and inverses. I also got to practice more manipulation and using de Moivre’s theorem, so it was a good session. Plus the hyperbolic function names are so much fun to say, even if only in my head. Kosh! Cinch! Tanch!

I also returned to my Python course at Codecademy today. I got into the more advanced part of the course where they just give you a prompt (Define a function that will calculate a Scrabble score, given this dictionary of letter values!) and a blank (or mostly blank) script editor and send you on your way. Definitely frustrating at times but a better way to learn. I had one memorable moment where I spent a good ten minutes trying to figure out why my perfectly set up code wouldn’t work only to finally realize that I had tried to increment with =+ instead of +=. Ahh, coding. I didn’t get quite as far as I had expected—only 10% progress to 71%—but since it was very productive I don’t mind.

I missed getting into the physics today, though, and I am looking forward to cracking open Volume II of Tipler and Mosca tomorrow!

Today’s fun “new” fact: The main hyperbolic function identity is just slightly different than that of the main trigonometric identity! On the one hand: , and on the other: !

It’s Getting Hot in Here

I had a busy day today! I spent the morning working on my Python course over at Codecademy. I finished going through the “review” material from when I previously completed the first few lessons and got into new stuff–which meant actually writing code! That was exciting. I made a (very rudimentary) Battleship game, and it worked with only a few issues to be debugged, so good for me. I’m at 61% through the course now, so a couple more sessions should finish it up.

After a busy interlude of running errands and finally getting to the gym for the first time in weeks, I dove back into Tipler and Mosca. I’m on to Part III now, and I covered the first two chapters: Temperature and the Kinetic Theory of Gases and Heat and the First Law of Thermodynamics. This is pretty familiar territory for me, since thermodynamics composed a large part of my Navy nuclear studies, but it’s also a somewhat tricky topic. Will I ever understand the equipartition theorem on a deep level? Ah, well, I shall have to be content with being semi-able to apply it for now.

Had a talk with my boyfriend this afternoon about whether I’m overdoing it or worrying too much about being prepared for school. I know he is a bit surprised I’m not relaxing more during my time off, but I think this is important. My fellow incoming students are all bright people (will admit I initially typed “kids” there), coming right out of undergrad, from prestigious universities. I was pretty good at physics back in my day, but the rust from the intervening years is very, very real. I want to be able to do quality research as soon as possible, and that means having the basics down, not struggling to remember the zeroth law of thermodynamics. I don’t think I will regret any of my self-study. Besides, I enjoy it!

Today’s fun “new” fact: The rms speed of hydrogen molecules is about 17% of the earth’s escape speed (11.2 km/s), which is (simplistically) why the atmosphere doesn’t retain hydrogen. The molecules eventually all just rocket off into space! This is a sort of duh fact, but one I hadn’t thought about in a while, and I think it is very cool. It’s also hugely relevant for me, as planetary atmospheres is a big component of the exoplanet field right now!

Photo by Cmglee / CC BY-SA 3.0

Your Fingertips, Well They Know the Code*

Oops, a bit tardy getting this post up! Been having a little trouble self-motivating the past couple days, in fact, because I didn’t get my Friday chapters done until Saturday night. I have properly chastised myself, but I’m not too worried. I’ve given myself weekends off, so there is some flexibility in my schedule, and I did get it done eventually!

So Friday AM I scheduled myself to work on coding. I learned to code in Basic a long time ago, and I loved making little text games and mazes and such. While my skills are a little (a lot) outdated, it gives me a decent grounding in the mindset of coding. I also started doing a Codecademy course in Python about 2 years ago, although I only made it about halfway through. However, the general consensus on the best language to know for physics seems to be Python, so I’m revisiting the course. I spent Friday going back through the lessons I had already done to remind myself of the syntax and such. It was pretty simple, but it felt good to go through some basic lines of code.

Once I finish the Python course (I anticipate that being in the next week or so), I plan to check out a resource I found specifically for physics called Computational Physics by Dr. Mark Newman. Some of it is available for free on his site, so I will start with that. If it is a useful resource, I’ll purchase the full book and try to work through it. I think this will place me in excellent footing for the fall.

For my slightly delayed Tipler and Mosca studying, I had 2 chapters: Static Equilibrium and Elasticity and Fluids. I’m not going to lie, the fluids stuff was tedious. I am not sure why. Perhaps it reminds me too much of my Navy science experiences, or maybe it is just a weak spot for me. In any case, these two chapters brought me to the end of Part I! That was an exciting little milestone for me.

It was the first time that I found something I had written in my textbook. In general, I am not a big fan of writing in my books, but here I had made a small pencil note rewriting the equation for buoyancy to show the relation between apparent weight and weight. It was a small thing, but I was really struck by it. For one thing, it shows that this must have been something I kept getting mixed up for no good reason (hello, weak spot…), but for another it was a blast out of my past. I used this textbook for my first semester of physics, which was way back in the fall of 2006 (!). Could my past self have imagined that, over 10 years later, I would be poring over this book again, preparing myself to go back into physics? It’s a strange thought. It reminded me that I once wrote a vision statement–later, after graduating from college, after deciding I wouldn’t stay in the Navy–that placed me at MIT studying planetary science. And then I ended up turning that chance down! But for another awesome opportunity!

Anyway, it’s been an intro/retrospective couple days. I look forward to knuckling back down tomorrow and tackling some more math, physics, and blasts from my past.

Today’s fun “new” fact: The hydrostatic paradox. I understand why the pressure in a fluid is the same at any horizontal point, and water level is independent of container shape, but it’s still weird to see it play out.

*Today’s lyric title is a bit more obscure, but it comes from a song by one of my favorite bands (Jack’s Mannequin), so you should check it out!

Work, Work, Work, Work, Work

(I’m not sure why all my posts titles have ended up being from songs. Not planned! I’m not even that much of a music person.)

I got a bit of a late start today, after falling down a rabbit hole of nostalgia while going through some boxes containing stuff from my college years. I read my journal from that time and had some panic when I saw past-self complaining about the difficulty of the Heat, Sound, and Light course. How am I ever going to manage graduate level classes?! But then I remembered that I’m a physics boss and decided not to worry. I did eventually get around to my studying, and I reviewed three chapters today: Work and Energy, Conservation of Energy, and Systems of Particles and Conservation of Momentum.

Most of the concepts here are pretty straightforward, and the “shortcuts” from using scalar quantities make for some fun problem sets. I also appreciate the refresher on elastic vs. inelastic collisions because I always mix that up for some reason. Basic introduction to Einstein concepts (energy quantization and rest energy/Newtonian mechanics applicability), although without any of the fun space-time bendiness yet.

Last night I remembered that I had also planned to learn some Python coding this summer. So that’s another thing to add to the list–but it’s going on the post-Peru list, so I have some time. I’ve done some Python before, but I never stuck with it because I had no use for it. Hopefully having a more concrete motivation will help.

Today’s fun “new” fact: Because the center of mass will always lie on the line straight down from a pivot, if you hang an object from a pivot at two different points, you can find the center of mass!