Friday, October 28, 2005

And They're Done

I finished my last midterm today! The stress has almost dissipated. It feels so freeing. Now life can return to the normal levels of insanity. They all went fairly well, except for todays in statistical physics (just had to go out on a bad note). This was actually the first class that I've been in where no one had finished before the prof said to stop. No one even came close to finishing. It was crazy. My professor is generally considered to be insane though, so I guess this was expected. But the rest of them went well.

Tonight the Astronomy Club is going to Devon to use the 0.5m telescope that the university has. I'm massively excited! This trip has been in the works for over a year now. It's amazing how difficult it is to coordinate a trip that involves going out of the city, clear skies and hunting down a retired professor. Hopefully all the clouds go away before it gets dark.

I intend on doing no homework this weekend!!! ...ok, maybe just a little... I do have a lot of assignments due next week... I'll try really hard to take a break though.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

My Relativity Midterm

Today I wrote my midterm for my Special Relativity class. This was the scenario given for the first question:

On their 21st birthday, one twin gets on a moving sidewalk, which carries her out to star X at speed 4/5c; her twin brother stays at home. When the travelling twin gets to star X, she immediately jumps onto the returning sidewalk and comes back to Earth, again at speed 4/5c. She arrives on her 39th birthday (as determined by her watch).
a) How old is her twin brother?
b) How far away is star X?
c) Call the outbound sidewalk coordinate system S' and the inbound one S'' (the Earth system is S). All three systems set their master clocks and choose their origins so that x=x'=x''=0 and t=t'=t''=0 at the moment of their departure. What are the coordinates (x,t), (x',t') and (x'',t'') of the jump?

Now, being the female half of a set of 21 year old boy/girl twins, this made me chuckle.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Because I haven't posted in 5 days

I was working on my statistical physics assignment today and at one point it referenced my astrophysics text book from last year. I ended up getting distracted by it (oh so easily distracted to learn things that I don't need to know at the moment) and found myself reading the section on inflation during the early universe. During my reading, I came across this sentence.

The universe persisted in its false vacuum state of unbroken symmetry with a high energy density, even though a spontaneous symmetry breaking to a true vacuum with zero energy density was energetically favorible.

It hit me then that probably the thing that makes physics language scary to most people (aside from all the equations and such) is probably not its use of ridiculously huge words that very few people understand the meaning of. But rather its ability to take words used in everyday language and mash them together in a sentence that is completely mind boggling.

In the event that anyone actually is interested to know what a false vacuum is, it is a vacuum that has a negative pressure. If you were to have a container of the stuff with a piston for the lid of the container, if you moved to piston to increase the volume, the pressure would also increase. Counterintuitive to the "normal" way things work.
And we'll finish with a pretty picture of a supernova reminent found in the Large Magellanic Cloud (a satillite galaxy to our own Milky Way).

Thursday, October 20, 2005

I need...

I stole this from Brett, who stole it from Ian. I thought mine were rather funny. Google your first name needs and post the first ten results.

  • Stephanie needs to buy up all of their company’s stock
  • Stephanie needs cash–fast–but times are tough
  • Stephanie needs to get some pies to Brooklyn
  • Stephanie needs to get the women together in an alliance because the men are strong
  • Stephanie needs some help Look at those pants!
  • Stephanie needs a strong manly shoulder to lean on
  • Stephanie needs to post some of the "Excel Sonnets"
  • Stephanie needs to find a missing mother and child
  • Stephanie needs a committed family
  • Stephanie needs to make sure she has an accurate plan of the whole site
I especially agree with the sixth one:)

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Saber and some other stuff

Today at fencing lessions, we got to learn a little Saber (as opposed to the foil that we have been learning). It was neat. In Saber you are allowed to slash people instead of just poking them. The Saber coach is this rather eccentric Russian guy. I thought the elbow positions seemed a little awkward, but the way the sword is gripped felt a lot better to me. And I quite enjoyed the slashing motions. Plus you get to wack people on the head instead of just poking them. I figure if we have to wear those big, heavy masks, we may as well get to wack people in the head. Carol and I both secretly agreed that we may like saber better then foil. Of course we did only have one lession in it. The movements in foil seem a lot more graceful, I am not a graceful person. It was fun. Fencing is a good sport, I like it.

And here is a very pretty picture of the three stars of Orion's Belt. They are three blue supergiants, stars that are much bigger and way hotter then our Sun. Their names are Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka. This also happens to be the location of such well known nebulas as the Horsehead and the Flame. Below the region that this picture was taken in is where the Orion Nebula is. The Orion Nebula can be seen through the telescope at the observatory. I've even hit it once. You wouldn't be able to see it if you came anytime soon though, you have to wait until the winter months for Orion to be high enough in the sky at a decent hour. The view is worth the numbing cold.

Here are some lyrics from Chris Tomlin's The Way I Was Made

Made in Your likeness, made with Your hands. Made to discover who You are and who I am And All I’ve forgotten help me to find. All that You’ve promised let it be in my life. I want to live like there’s no tomorrow. I want to dance like no one’s around. I want to sing like nobody’s listening. Before I lay my body down. I want to give like I have plenty. I want to love like I’m not afraid. I want to be the woman I was meant to be. I want to be the way I was made.

I'm pretty sure that I know exactly what direction I want my life to go in, but I must admit that I have been questioning that lately. Growing up really is confusing.

pitcure from:
lyrics from:

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Clear Skies At Last

This past Thursday night was the first night of the semester that hasn't been a total bust at the observatory. It was a great night of observing, with several firsts for me. So I will regale you with a list of the objects that we hit that night.
  • the Moon
  • Ring Nebula- a planetary nebula which only looks like a fuzzy grey ring through the telescope but it is really far away and so very neat to see. A planetary nebula is what is formed when a star like the Sun gets to the later stages of it's life and slowly starts to puff away it's mass.
  • Lacrosse 5- a military satellite
  • Iridium flare- these come from a certain type of satellites that are essentially big hexigontal cylinders. When they are lined up just perfectly in their rotation to have light bouncing off of them and being directed at the Earth, you see a flare. The one we saw was about magnitude -2 (about the same magnitude as Venus).
  • Hercules Globular Cluster- this was a first for me. I have never seen a globular cluster through a telescope with my very own eyes before, so it was quite exciting. A globular cluster is a cluster of stars that is found in the halo of the Milky Way. The stars in it are very old. The only Main Sequence Stars (hydrogen burning stars, you know like the Sun) left are of types K and M, the smallest and therefore longest living of the stars. A number of the stars in a globular cluster are the degenerate reminants of stars, ie white dwarfs and neutron stars. All of the higher mass stars have since become these objects. Globular clusters are extremely dense and I thought that the one I saw looked like a swarm of angry insects. It was pretty cool looking.
  • Mars- Shockingly enough, this was the first time that I had ever seen Mars through a telescope as well. It was rather low on the horizon so there was a fair amount of atmospheric aberration (wobbliness) going on, but it still looked cool. At one point, there was also a rather neat effect going on. Mars was coming up just above the roof of the observatory right where there happens to be a mesh satellite dish. So we were seeing the light from Mars coming through the mesh. The neat part was that the mesh was fine enough that it was not only making it look like Mars was in a bizzillion pieces, but it was also acting as a diffraction grating! The light coming from Mars was being diffracted and so the white light was separated into all of the colours of the spectrum. It was so cool. Score one for quantum mechanics and the wave nature of light!! I absolutely love things like that. When you can actually make fluke observations in nature that gives evidence to all this stuff that I have been learning in class. It brings all of the theories and equations into the real world and it is just amazing to see.
I recommend that everyone come a visit me at the observatory on Thursday night from 8-9:30ish. You'll get to see all kinds of neat stuff and hear me yack on and on about some of the stuff that I think are the neatest things in the universe. If Thursday nights don't work, we could discuss a private viewing as I have access anytime I want. It's lots of fun.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Blood Type

So I finally received my Blood Donor card in the mail. It turns out that my blood type is A- . It seems so strange to me that I went almost 22 years without knowing what my blood type is. It seems like such an important thing to know about yourself. But I guess since I have never had to have any blood tests or the like, there was no chance for me to find out. My Mom's blood type is AB+ and my Dad's is O-. So it appears that I once again got the recessive gene, with getting the negative RH factor. So that means that I know my full genotype (is that the right term?). It is AO -/-. I apparently share my blood type with only 6% of Canadians. Hmm, I better keep giving blood them, what if I need some someday? The next time I can give blood is on Nov.11, but I believe there are plans to go on Nov. 18. Anyone else want to come? You get free cookies!

And on a completely unrelated topic. Yesterday I had the most delicious Thanksgiving Dinner. Thanks Glenda and Ian.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Recent Random Thoughts

So I realized that I haven't made a post since Tuesday. It just seems wrong somehow to go that long without posting something that really only truly interests me and is only read by a miniscule percent of the population. So I figured that I would post some random thoughts that I have recently had/random things about me (?). Plus, it wouldn't be a night audit shift without a night audit blog post!
  • Stabbing people with swords is fun. I can't believe I went this long in my life before I took up fencing.
  • Michael "It was so cold out today that the leaves were falling off the tree without any wind". Me "That's what looked so strange about that this morning. I just couldn't put my finger on it."
  • I still can't believe he killed Wash.
  • I never thought I would come to appreitiate Wednesday evening rides home as much as I do now.
  • Ick, it's cloudy again!
  • I think I need some new running shoes, or more duct tape. I have rubbed a hole through the backs of 2 pairs and they have chewed up my ankles in a number of places.
  • I still can't decide if I should follow my head or my heart in some of life's big decisions.
  • My differential equations prof gives the most useless definitions on the planet. ie. the definition of a non linear difference equation is a difference equation which is not linear. I'm serious, I can't make something like that up.
  • This is BORING!
  • Hmm, well that's interesting.
  • Yes, this is my last night audit ever!
  • What??? This isn't my last night audit ever because the G.M is silly and stole someone from the desk to work upstairs when we already do not have enough people working at the desk.
  • I really should go skiing sometime this year since I didn't go last year.
  • I had an incredibly huge brain block on Wednesday and could not figure out how to manipulate some simple factorials.
  • I was smart again on Thursday and could figure out the '2 minute question' in S.R. right away and managed to convince not 1 but 3 people that I was right on an assignment question and they were wrong. The contracted length at one speed is not equal to the contracted length at another speed.
  • Every day I am amazed at the people whom God has placed around me.
Wow, and look at that, it is 3:30 already. I really should start entering those Front Desk revenue numbers.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The Twin Paradox

Today in Special Relativity, we briefly discussed the Twin Paradox. Being a twin and being the younger of the pair, this has always been my favorite paradox. I will illustrate it using Daniel and I.

Imagine for a moment that Daniel and I managed to build a ship that can travel at speeds close to the speed of light (I can smell a Nobel Prize coming on). Daniel volunteers to take a trip to Alpha Centuri and back while I stay on Earth. Alpha Centuri is about 4.3 light years from Earth. If Daniel is traveling at 75% the speed of light, then a return trip (according to me) will take him approximately 10.3 years. But since Daniel is traveling so fast, he will experience the relativistic effect of time dilation (dun dun dun). So according to Daniel, his trip takes only 6.8 years. When Daniel comes back, he is younger then I am! Where the paradox comes in is that Daniel could argue that according to his reference frame, he stayed still and the Earth moved away from him and came back and therefore he is still older. The paradox is resolved when I tell Daniel that he can not possibly look at it from that way because he had to accelerate to get to his speed and then twice more when he reached Alpha Centuri and turned around to come back. Acceleration is not invariant between reference frames and so his argument is invalid. I am right and I am now older!

Aw Relativity, definitely my favorite class this semester.

Browncoats Forever- Love: Mom and Dad

Today, I recieved a package in the mail. I was like "what could this possibly be?". It turned out to be a t-shirt from my Mom and Dad. The t-shirt has a drawing of Serenity on it and says "We've done the impossible and that makes us mighty". It's sweet!! The gift message said "Browncoats Forever- Love Mom and Dad".

Thanks Mom and Dad, you always know how to put a smile on my face!

The above picture is my Mom and Dad at a Hallowe'en party from when they worked at the Eventide Home in Niagara Falls.


And some of the lyrics from Switchfoot's song Stars:

Stars looking at our planet, Watching entropy and pain And maybe startin' to wonder How the chaos in our lives could pass as sane I've been thinkin' 'bout the meaning of resistance Of a world beyond our own And suddenly the infinite and penitent Began to look like home I've been thinkin' 'bout everyone, everyone you look so empty But when I look at the stars, When I look at the stars, When I look at the stars I see someone else When I look at the stars, the stars I feel like myself

Here is my response to the talk with Michael and Glenna (see Michael's Blog). If all of this is just a figment of my brain's imagination, then I have quite the imaginiation. But, I KNOW that this is not all a figment of my brain's imagination or a projection of it's will or whatever. I don't care if that's not at all scientific. I know that my beautiful universe was created by God and not my brain. And maybe if people stopped being concerned that their imaginary universe will implode in on itself because their brains can't imagine anymore, then they would be able to look up and see what I see. I'm not naive, I know that the world is not perfect. But I know that the world exists. I will also direct you to one of my favorite Bible verses which is from 1 Corinthians 15:10 which says "but by the grace of God I am what I am..." I am not me because "some incredibly powerful demon is deluding me" (from Michael's blog). As I said on Friday, I think that most philosophies were invented because someone wanted to say something shocking and the more shocking it seemed, the more it stuck. The universe is complicated, but it is not that complicated.

Lyrics from
Picture from

Saturday, October 01, 2005


WARNING!!!!!! Do not read if you do not want the movie to be spoiled because this is a huge rant about the movie and spoils absolutely every part of the movie.

Geek-Fest 2005 Serenity ed took place today. Jill, Janet, Alisha and I went to see the movie made from the best sci-fi series ever made. I don't even know what to say about it. It was fantastic, it was sad, it was tense and exciting. It was shocking.

Joss Whedon has and always will be able to completely break your heart. You know, when he kills Book, it was like okay I can deal with this. It's upsetting, we don't get to find out about his past. But killing Wash??? At the time you are upset about Serenity getting ripped apart, but Wash still manages to land the ship and it has stopped and everything is all good and then a big, huge pole comes streaming through the window and he is dead. After that point, I was certain he was going to be killing the entire crew. How can you kill Wash? He's Zoe's husband. I cried, all four of us did. It was upsetting.

River was some crazy fighting machine. She tore apart those Reavers pretty good. And Kaylee and Simon. They don't just kiss! Um, I'm sure there are many more things for me to say on the movie, but putting thoughts together on it is just to hard right now. So that is all the spoiling that I will do.

Night Audit Again

Welcome, boys and girls, to my blog. It's time once again for one of those night audit postings where I ramble on and on, not really making much sense that I am sure you all (or ya'll in honor of the fact that it is Geek-Fest 2005 Serenity Edition) love... Thinking for a few moments, I actually don't think I have anything to ramble about. There doesn't seem to be a very large supply of eccentric people staying at the hotel right now. So instead of rambling, I have decided I will post the words to my favorite Gordon Lightfoot song. I suppose I was first formally introduced to Gordon Lightfoot on the 2004 post exam camping trip to Drumhellar and Dinorsaur P.P. My first impression was, why was Michael the only one to bring music? But this last year on the trip to Northern Saskatchewan we were once again listening to the musical stylings of Gordon Lightfoot and I found myself appreciating his music a great deal. I certainly have not come close to hearing all of his creations, but my favorite from those that I have heard is Approaching Lavender. I'm sure there is some big philosophical reason for that based on my personality, but I will just leave it at the fact that it is my favorite.

If youÂ’d like to spend the afternoon approaching lavender
YouÂ’ll feel just fine but one thingÂ’s sure
YouÂ’ll never be the same
If youÂ’d like to try your hand at understanding lavender
Then you must be very sure
That life is not a game
You might even learn a thing or two approaching lavender
YouÂ’ll soon be on a one night tour
Forgetting your own name
You wonÂ’t need a reason just to be alone with lavender
For the light so warm and pure
Will draw you like a flame

The colors that surround you there will be the shade of lavender
Shadows dancing everywhere
Like flowers in the rain
You will find your tongueÂ’s on fire while lying next to lavender
With words you never spoke before
And will not speak again

Oh sweet lavender I understand you perfectly
There is no way that I can see
You living by yourself
Oh sweet lavendar I must be with you constantly
Your presence means so much to me
Much more that life itself

Oh sweet lavender as fragrant as the name you bear
Please cast away the clothes you wear
And give your love to me
Oh sweet lavender your smile is like the golden sun
IÂ’d love to see you laugh and run
As naked as the sea

If youÂ’d like to spend the afternoon approaching lavender
DonÂ’t try and get the best of her
She will not share the blame
If youÂ’d like to try your hand at understanding lavender
Then you must be very sure
That life is not a game
There is no shame