Lynsey

About Lynsey

Senior

Engineering Physics

Major: Engineering Physics, Accelerated track
Minor: Computer Science, Applied Mathematics, Astronomy
Hometown: Twin Cities, Minnesota
Career Goals: To become involved in the space industry and our pursuit of the final frontier.
Why I chose Embry-Riddle: Its reputation, specialty, and community.
Activities: Sigma Pi Sigma Honor Society, The Avion Newspaper, Crew Team

Fall Break Fun (Plus Everything Since)

I’m running out of creative ways to start these entries. Generic greetings are so boring…

My shiny Charizard, Deimos. Named after one of Mars’ moons 🙂

We left off last time right before fall break, so you’re probably dying to know what I did for that long, 4-day weekend. In short, I really didn’t do anything. I caught up on sleep, played Pokemon Y (I hatched a shiny charmander – if you know what that means, I know you’re jealous), watched some Breaking Bad, and took some time to just chill and forget about school. It was glorious, apart from being sick for most of the break. But thanks to my friends orange juice and NyQuil, I was able to bounce back pretty quickly.

My new bookshelf (well, CD/DVD/Spaceship shelf) from IKEA on the left, along with my new Gravity poster 😀

The only real exciting thing I did over the break was spend some time in Orlando on Saturday. After waking up at about noon, I read on Facebook that Buzz Aldrin was doing a book signing in Kissimmee at 1 PM – well it was 1 PM when I read that post! So I took the quickest shower of my life, hopped in my car, and booked it to Orlando. We called when we were at about downtown Orlando to see if it was still going on, and it wasn’t. 🙁 I was pretty bummed about that, especially because his book is about the future of space travel (i.e. Mars). So since we were in Orlando anyways, we spent the day at IKEA, ate some cheesecake at The Cheesecake Factory, and ended the evening playing some games at Dave N Busters – and I won a telescope. 😀 I have yet to see anything interesting with it though, it’s probably worth about $20; but still.

The week after a break is never fun. Especially the first couple days when you haven’t really recovered the motivation you left behind. But somehow I found the strength to get back into school-mode. Which was good, because I had my EP 501 midterm – and boy, was that an experience. I don’t think I’ve ever studied so much for a test in my life. Grad classes are scary because you have one exam and one final, so if you mess up the midterm chances are that your grade is doomed. I managed to scrape out a 90, which I’m very proud of (I would have hung the exam on my fridge except that my professor doesn’t give them back). Not to brag, but I’m 6 for 6 on exams this semester, which means this is my best semester yet – including freshman year! I have two more exams this week, in Spaceflight Dynamics and Thermodynamics, so hopefully I’ll be able to maintain the streak… fingers crossed.

Spring semester schedule. i.e. “Death by Physics”

Spring semester registration is now upon us! At least for the honors students – that’s one of our perks: we get to register before everybody else. So that means first dibs on the good professors. (I think I might be obligated to say that every single professor at Embry-Riddle is one of the “good professors.”) Of course it doesn’t really matter for me; I think I mentioned last time that every single class I am taking next semester only has one option, so my schedule is essentially made for me. Oh well, less work required on my part. This was also the first semester since I switched majors that I’ve been able to register online without it throwing an error at me for one or more classes and having to go sort it out with records! And the timings seem to work out very nicely – it’s just the classes that are going to kill me!

The new building is almost done and it’s beautiful – and it’s all mine! And, y’know, the rest of the physics/human factors/business/etc. students and faculty.

I also mentioned last time about the new College of Arts and Sciences building. All of my classes will be in there, and the lab I work in…. I wonder if I can just live there too? I am giving the presentation about our new lab to the Board of Trustees on Friday, so you’ll hear about that in my next entry.

Speaking of presentations, this past weekend I was asked to be on a student panel at the open house – so, any prospective students reading this, if you were there you probably saw me. I felt pretty honored to have been asked, which is why I was willing to wake up so early to be there (I don’t even wake up that early for classes!) I got to tell my story about choosing Riddle (my first entry – if you haven’t read it) to a whole bunch of people, so it was pretty cool. Then I went home and went back to bed for a little bit before lending my evening to freshmen who wanted help planning out their spring semesters.

My boyfriend and I with Echosmith (we are the two in the middle – it might be hard to tell because the band is our age!) They were really flattered when I told them we were at the concert specifically to see them. I suppose as openers they don’t get that a lot.

On Sunday I got to go to another concert! We went to see the opener, Echosmith. I’m pretty sure I talked about them in my entry about Warped Tour – they are all siblings that are age 14-20. And they’re awesome. The downside about them being the opener, is that we missed most of their set! 🙁 Orlando had some carnival or something going on so a lot of the streets downtown were closed and we couldn’t figure out how to get to the venue. But we caught their last two songs, which were really good, and then got to chat with them a bit after they played – which is the upside of them being an opener. There were three other bands playing; the second was For the Foxes, who weren’t really my cup of tea, but one or two of their songs were pretty good. Then The Downtown Fiction played, who I’ve had on my iTunes library but never really listened to aside from just shuffling the whole library. But they did play one song of theirs that I really like, along with some other I recognized. I also got to meet them, and got them to sign an album for me. The headlining band was Tonight Alive, a band from Australia. They were awesome! It turned out to be a really fun show, especially since we just went to see the opener. I got a signed copy of Tonight Alive’s album too (so I now have 9 signed CDs in total, plus 2 signed vinyls).

There is another concert I want to go to this Saturday, In This Moment, but nobody will go with me so I suppose I’ll sit this one out and save the money. But I only say that because I’ve seen them before and they haven’t released any new music since then. It’s really awesome how many bands play Orlando – I’ve been to more concerts since starting school at Riddle than the rest of my life combined. And that’s not counting the ones freshman year I would have gone to had I had a car.

One of my Bitstrips from last night. Hehe.

I discovered this super entertaining Facebook app called Bitstrips, where you make a cartoon of yourself and can put yourself in little comics with cartoon versions of your friends. There are some really funny comic templates, and my Facebook friends are probably sick of me posting them, but I don’t care because I think they’re hilarious. Although my parents and aunts started making them too, and everybody knows that parents ruin anything cool on the internet.

I think that’s about it for my life nowadays. I haven’t made too much progress on my research, mostly because I’ve been spending a good chunk of my lab time working on the poster for the Board of Trustees presentation. I have to write a major research paper about software development processes for my SE 500 class, so I plan to get working on that soon… I haven’t written a paper in about a year so I’m actually kind of looking forward to it; writing is definitely one of my strong suits (and for some reason I decided to be a physicist.)

I believe I’ve mentioned this before, but with all the prospective students who might start reading this, I’ll say it again: Ask me questions! I’m happy to answer anything about ERAU, especially about the Engineering Physics program. Or, y’know, just send me fan-mail telling me how awesome I am. Email me at schroel2@my.erau.edu, or you can probably find me on Facebook pretty easily. I don’t bite 🙂

Until next time….

-Lynsey

The Exciting Life of a Physics Student

Hello hello!

Time is sure flying, I can’t believe it’s been another two weeks. But I suppose I’ll pick up right where I left off in writing my life’s story. So here it goes…

A plot, similar to the one in my last entry, showing altitude above sea level and the corresponding vertical wind speed. This one is for Olympus Mons on Mars! Notice that the wind speed is about 10X higher, which makes sense because the mountain is a lot bigger.

Let me start off by pointing out the terrible error in my last post – my Mars map was upside down! I noticed it while working on my model in MATLAB. Major oops on that one. But I will say that it is now fixed, and the model is working beautifully. I was able to plot the vertical wind speed across Olympus Mons (which, as you recall from my earlier entries, is the largest volcano in the solar system at a height of about 26 km), and our next step is to implement these calculations in the atmospheric dynamics model to simulate some waves! If that sentence didn’t make sense to you, go back and read some of my past entries where I explain the basics of my research.

My CORRECT Martian topographic map generated in MATLAB. This time I used the copper color bar option, because the blue was a bit misleading. Lighter is higher elevation, and darker is lower elevation.

Speaking of physics and research and all that jazz, I’m getting pretty excited for the new College of Arts and Sciences building! They’ve named our new lab – it will be called ECLAIR:  Experimental and Computational Laboratory for Atmospheric and Ionospheric Research. Which is apparently French for “flash of lightning”, in addition to being a delicious French pastry. So for atmospheric scientists who are also partial to pastries, it seemed like a good fit. I will be presenting a poster about the new lab to the board of trustees on November 1st, which means I get to be one of the first people to stand inside the new building! Plus I get to wear a suit, and I always feel snazzy in a suit.

The new building seems like a good segway to my next topic – registering for next semester classes. Ah! It seems like this semester just started, and we’re already getting ready to register. My schedule for the spring seems pretty chill time-wise (only a couple classes on MWF, and a decent break on TTh) – I should note that, once you get to upper-level EP classes you start to lose control of making your own schedule. Every class I’m taking only has one section, and I lucked out in not having to take any 8:15s! Nonetheless, I’ll be taking five 300-level EP classes (Classical Mechanics, Optics, Microcomputers, Space Systems Engineering, and Junior Design); I saw my advisor today, and I quote… Me: “I just want to make sure next semester won’t kill me.” Him: “Oh it will.” Well then. I suppose it evens out for the fact that the classes will be really cool.

I also have to start thinking about a thesis topic, and man that feels so far off. I will probably continue to pursue my Martian atmospheric research, unless something else nifty catches my attention.

You never really get too old for Pokemon.

Now for those of you readers who are geeks like me, you’re probably wondering if I’m going to mention last weekend’s big release – Pokemon X and Y! Yes, I am, because that’s all I did this weekend. I bought a shiny new (used, but it’s new to me) 3DS – which is amazing technology might I add; I was skeptical – and picked up my copy of Y. I definitely have to give this game five stars, it’s completely revolutionized the franchise. And if you’re wondering, my entire team is named after moons, constellations, and space missions (Apollo, Aries, Triton, Phobos, Deimos, and Orion) because that’s just how I roll. I also found a shiny in the wild. If you don’t know what that means, just keep scrolling.

This weekend is fall break! Which is much needed. I’m planning to sleep, play Pokemon, sleep some more, watch Breaking Bad, and maybe plan a trip down to Kennedy Space Center if the government decides to run again. I should note that, while KSC is privately owned and operated and therefore still open during the shutdown, none of its tours run since it’s a government facility that’s being toured, and what’s the fun if you can’t see the cool space buildings?

This was posted on the Embry-Riddle Memes page the day of the career fair, with 298 “likes” and 33 “shares”. It made me lol.

Speaking of the government shut down, the career fair was last Wednesday (yes, that transition was completely relevant, just wait.) NASA wasn’t there obviously, which made me very very sad. I even stood next to their empty booth for a while hoping they’d magically appear and give me a job. They didn’t. BUT I did have a really good chat with a woman from Northrop-Grumman who seemed to really want to hire me. She had the same first name, so total ice-breaker, and asked me for two copies of my resume – one for the pile and one to take with her. So I’m expecting a phone call any day now, she practically promised -fingers crossed-. I also talked to some other small space companies that seemed really cool, and they seemed promising as well. Boeing seemed unimpressed, but they can keep their airplanes, I’m not interested.

And I almost forgot to mention Gravity! The movie, not the force. Go see it. Right now. It was so awesome. We went to the very first showing at 10 pm on Thursday night and saw it in 3D. Wow. That’s all I have to say about that. Granted the physics is a bit off in some places, but the amount of things they did right and the fact that the movie is simply incredible makes breaking physics worth it – and that’s coming from a physicist. (Plus, Sandra Bullock as an astronaut? You don’t want to miss that.)

Let’s see what else is going on… I suffered through an assignment for EP 501 that I think took 20-25 hours of work. It was four problems, and it took that long. What. I decided I don’t like grad school. Also, I had to go get a shot the other day, which, if you know me, you know is a big deal. I’m planning a trip to India this summer, so it’s probably worth it, but still – wah! Also also, the Indian restaurant here in Daytona that I go to about once a week got a new chef, and he makes my usual different and I’m sad. It’s not bad, it’s just not my usual anymore, y’know? (Have you ever noticed that the last paragraph of my blog entries are just the most random things I can think to mention?)

Will Northrop-Grumman ever call? What will happen with my Martian vertical forcing model? How much will I sleep during fall break? Get these exciting answers and more next time!

-Lynsey

More Mapping – Mars! And Other Stuff

Hello hello!

I’m starting to run out of creative ways to start these entries. So let’s just dive right in, shall we?

Because I can.

Midterm season is upon us, and I’m pretty sure I escaped the first round unscathed. I had three exams in two days last week: Astronomy, Spaceflight Dynamics, and of course my open-everything Thermodynamics midterm. Which was pretty cool. Any exam that lets me google the answers on my cell phone is a winner in my book (in my defense, I knew the material and didn’t actually google anything.) For my astronomy exam I made 158 flashcards and studied like mad – it was weird for me to have an exam where you just had to know things and not do math. Haven’t had one of those for a while. Though my Software Engineering process exam on Monday will be like that – 12 essay questions, 3 hour midterm. Gotta love grad school….

A plot showing altitude above sea level and the corresponding vertical wind speed. This is for a location in the Andes Mountains, at 31.8º S latitude.

Enough about all that stuff, I have way more exciting things to talk about, such as my mastery of MATLAB’s mapping toolbox. Guys… I made Mars. I didn’t think it was even possible, but I actually got it to work! (Which is especially impressive considering I did so without access to any NASA databases – #penny4nasa) I managed to generate a full-world topographic plot of the Martian surface. I also finished a model which takes surface topography (mountains, etc.) and calculates the vertical wind forcing based on horizontal wind. It works on Earth, so now it’s time to see if we can get a plot for the area over Olympus Mons! This data is useful because vertical wind forcing generates gravity waves, if you remember that information from my first couple entries.

So as you can see I’ve been pretty busy (and successful, I might add) in classes and SPRL lately. Which is great – I will likely get to be a second author on a published paper! For my vertical wind forcing model; I’m super excited, and glad that I’m starting to make headway into real research.

MATLAB plot of Mars Topography! And no, the blue isn’t water – it’s just colorized based on altitude. Green is approx. sea level, blue is lower, and yellow is higher.

My boyfriend and I with The Pretty Reckless at the VIP meet and greet. Doing our best rock concert faces. (We are the two on the ends)

Besides doing awesome physics stuff and making bajillions of flashcards, I’ve been doing some fun stuff too. I got to go to another rock concert (it’s been a really good year, all my favorite bands are touring!) The band is called The Pretty Reckless, and if you haven’t heard of them I suggest you go check them out. They played at a little club in downtown Orlando called The Social, which was really great because it was such a small venue, I could literally reach out and grab the guy’s guitar if I had wanted to. And we had VIP passes so we got to do a meet and greet afterwards with the band!

The openers were great too, the first was Louna, and they are a band from Russia. In fact this is the first time in 20 years that a full Russian rock band is touring in the US. The second band was Heaven’s Basement from the UK; they were crazy. At one point the singer tried to do the thing where they walk out on the fans’ hands, and the security guy yelled and ran over and tried to pull him back by the ankles. Then he ran into the pit, grabbed him, threw him over his shoulder, and brought him back on stage. There was like a tug of war of this guy between the guard and the fans. I guess that club doesn’t allow crowd-walking. The singer was just in awe, it was hilarious.

Doing my #RLShrimpStache for Endless Shrimp. If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m kinda crazy.

Other than that everything is about the same as it was last time I wrote. Still working my way though Breaking Bad (and trying to avoid spoilers!), enjoying my Pumpkin Pecan Waffles candle, and eating lots of shrimp at Red Lobster – we made sure to hit up Endless Shrimp one last time on Sunday (its last day). I’ve also been doing some scrapbooking… I’ll post some photos next week after I buy more photo corners.

Another cool thing to mention is that I was invited to join Tau Beta Pi, which is the National Engineering Honor Society. As a physics student and a member of the College of Arts and Sciences rather than College of Engineering, I didn’t think they would want me, but I suppose having “engineering” in the name of my major was good enough!

For my closing statement, I’m going to mention that I’m super bummed about NASA being all closed and stuff. So let’s hope the government gets rolling again so that they can get back to work! I’m really hoping their MAVEN mission to Mars doesn’t get affected too much. That launch is scheduled for November 18th and the window extends until December 7th – if they miss it, they can’t launch again for over two years! It’s really a bummer when the sciences get caught up in politics.

That’s all folks – until next time!

-Lynsey

Back to School and Mapping Mountains

Greetings!

I’m going to actually write a relevant blog entry this time, I promise.

Fall semester is in full swing with first midterm exams coming up soon and lots of late-night homework assignments in the rear-view. Actually, I take that back; I really haven’t had a late night. Which is odd for me… I think I’m finally learning time management skills. I’ve been really good about not starting to work at 8 pm the night before the assignment is due – a valuable lesson to say the least. I’m bracing myself for when the semester is going to hit me, but for the time being it’s been pretty manageable. *knock on wood*

I promised I’d tell you guys about the awesome classes I’m taking this semester, so I’m going to do that now. My first class of the week, bright and early at 1 pm Monday morning (I know you’re jealous) is Thermodynamics. A lot of what we’re doing so far has been review (thanks to my awesome Physics II professor for hitting thermo hard), and the concepts are pretty interesting. Exams in this class are open everything, meaning textbooks, notes, and even computers/iPads/etc! Of course with the assumption you’re not going to text your friend and ask them for the answer. I think it’s a really cool system because it’s a lot like the real world (though in the real world you actually can call your friend and ask them the answer, but that’s beside the point.) Thermo is the last class I have to get out of the way as far as Engineering Sciences, which are kind of the physical fundamental classes you have to take before they throw you in a room and expect you to design a spaceship. That being said, it’s not my favorite, but I don’t hate it either.

Monday evenings I’m taking a Master’s level software engineering class as an elective, because I’m also doing a computer science minor. It’s really neat – one of those 3 hour, once a week night classes like what your parents would take if they go back to school. Which means I am literally about 5-10 years younger than everybody else in that class. Between that and not being a software engineering major (or a grad student, for that matter), it’s a bit intimidating, but I’m not afraid of the class. It seems pretty straight forward and I’m getting to write some pretty cool programs. I’m also taking a second grad class called Numerical Methods, which is kind of a cross between MATLAB and error analysis. I’m not really sure to expect from that one, but it’s cool nonetheless, and luckily I’m not the only undergrad, as there are a few other students in the accelerated program (which is why I’m taking grad classes, if you aren’t up to speed on my other blog entries. It basically means I’m getting my BS and MS at the same time, and will graduate with both after 5 years.)

The coolest classes I’m taking this semester are Spaceflight Dynamics and Astronomy – I finally get to start learning space stuff, which is what I came here to do! And they’re really interesting. In Spaceflight we’re basically learning everything you ever wanted to know about orbits, and in astronomy it’s everything you ever wanted to know about space – we’ve already talked about the solar system, constellations, and learned phases of the moon, along with a little bit of history of astronomy. By the end of the semester I’ll know about everything from stars to black holes!

Topographical map of the Andes Mountains generated by MATLAB’s mapping toolkit.

I’m back to actually doing some cool things in SPRL, after a few weeks of reading and playing with MATLAB tools. We are working on creating topographical (elevation) maps for mountain regions – the Andes mountains at the moment – and hoping to use this elevation data to model some real-world mountain waves. More physicists just use a smoothed gaussian hill to research mountain waves, so we’re taking it one step ahead by using actual topographic data. There’s a lot of complicated math and MATLAB programming ahead, but I’m definitely looking forward to what will come of it!

With the school year back on and in full force I don’t have a lot of free time, although to be honest that’s the way I like it. Nonetheless my weekends have been pretty free (since I’m keeping ahead on my homework like a good student), so I’ve had some time to start watching Breaking Bad and frequent Red Lobster’s Endless Shrimp (coconut shrimp… mmm….) I also went ice skating last Saturday, but we were both scared so after making two laps around holding onto the edges we gave up and went to see a movie. Plus ice skating in Florida just seems wrong. In other news, I got this candle at Bath and Bodyworks  called “Pumpkin Pecan Waffles” and now my apartment smells ah-ma-zing.

That’s all I have for now. Tune in next week for my random ramblings about ERAU, Research, and the mysteries of life!

There weren’t very many pictures in this post, so here’s a picture I took of a moo cow from the State Fair:

-Lynsey

My Two-Week Summer Break

Hey guys!

Sorry I haven’t written in a while. I’ve had a pretty busy couple of weeks! Summer B ended up being a successful bump of 0.004 to my GPA (woo!), and then I had a whole two weeks of summer vacation. The first week I mostly slept until at least 1 or 2, watched some afternoon court TV (because that’s all that’s on, and it’s strangely entertaining), and did some work in the lab. We are looking into topographical features on both Earth and Mars that may induce atmospheric waves (remember that mumbo jumbo I talked about in my first couple entries?). Which has been a lot of reading papers and fighting with MATLAB’s mapping toolkit. No real progress to report, except that I managed to generate a topographical map and have no idea how I did it.

Target Field is only a few years old, and is located right in downtown Minneapolis amidst the skyscrapers. It’s a beautiful stadium.

Then Saturday rolled around and I was on a flight out of Daytona Beach headed back to the Land of 10,000 Lakes for a short, jam-packed visit ’cause my family misses me and stuff since I live so far away (I don’t blame them, I’m pretty awesome.) The first day I was home, I went to a baseball game with my aunts at Target Field to see the good ole’ Minnesota Twins play the Chicago White Sox. We lost 🙁 But it was okay because I ate nachos out of a baseball helmet. Along with seeing a bunch of friends who all obviously miss me, I also managed to fit in a doctor’s appointment, dentist appointment, hair appointment, and applying for a passport within the first couple days I was home. Uffda!

Taking a picture with one of the cows in the cow barn at the State Fair. Moo

Thursday the whole family went down to the Great Minnesota Get-Together – the State Fair! It’s a magical afternoon where you eat delicious foods like cheese curds, corn fritters, and Sweet Martha’s Cookies (which come in a bucket), and look at cows and stuff. AKA the best fair ever. It was pretty hot outside – all of the people who didn’t spend in the summer in Florida were complaining; I, on the other hand, thought the weather was gorgeous.

One of my photos of Ville Valo (HIM’s singer). I love taking pictures at concerts, and I got some really fantastic ones this time.

My last night home I went to a concert with my brother, where I got to see one of my favorite bands, HIM. I pretty much planned this trip around that concert date, because the tour didn’t come down to Florida, so it ended up being a win-win. I was right up in front by the stage, which was awesome. The next morning I was up at 6 am to catch my flight back to Daytona Beach.

Well, the Fall 2013 semester is one week in and classes are already underway! This semester I am taking three undergrad classes (Thermodynamics, Spaceflight Dynamics, and Astronomy) and two grad classes (Numerical Methods and Software Engineering Disciplines) along with a one-credit EP seminar course. It’s going to be a busy semester, but I’m really looking forward to these classes. The best part of college is when you’re finally finished with classes like just physics and calc and you get to start taking classes that actually pertain to your major.

One of the Blue Men took a selfie with us after the show!

One last thing before I close out this entry. Blue Man Group has a stage down at Universal Studios, and their show is amazing. My boyfriend’s birthday was this weekend, and we went down to see it – it is really like nothing else in the world. It’s definitely one of those fantastic attractions that Orlando has to offer that gets overshadowed by all the rides and Disney stuff. The show is both awe-inspiring and hilarious, and incredibly entertaining. Go see it, you shan’t be disappointed!

That’s all for now folks. I’ll fill you in more about my classes in my next entry, once they really get going. I hope you’ve all had a good Labor Day weekend – I, for one, am a sunburned mess after spending the afternoon at the beach yesterday. But the weather was gorgeous and the water was perfect, so it was totally worth it.

Peace out!

Hanging Out in Orlando and Stuff

Oops – I haven’t written in a while. Sorry about that!

Today was the last day of classes for the summer. I think I escaped Electrical Engineering unscathed. All I have left on my plate is one last lab report and a lab practical on Monday, then it’s two weeks of freedom. That’s the longest break I’ve had since Christmas, haha.

While Daytona itself is kinda “meh” as far as cities go, its proximity to Orlando is great (if you have a car, that is.) I’ve spent quite a bit of time down there the last couple weeks. One of my favorite things about Orlando, is that bands always play there. Minneapolis was always kind of a hit or miss city as far as musical tours, so it was always disappointing to have to miss seeing bands I liked because they decided we just weren’t important enough for a show. But everybody plays Orlando! And it’s awesome.

Myself with Juliet Simms! Too bad I’m a sweaty mess in the photo (it was like 100 degrees and super humid – bleh.)

I spent the whole day down there at Warped Tour a couple weeks ago, which was awesome. I had never been before, and almost didn’t go because I didn’t have anybody with whom to go. Well, I ended up at the show for free, courtesy of Hawthorne Heights, who picked me to work their street team for the Orlando show! Although I was promised a backstage pass that never ended up happening, I still got to get in early and for free, as well as meet the band and get some free cool signed stuff, and all I had to do was hang a bajillion posters around the grounds. It was awesome. Except for the part where it thunderstormed and they tried to shepherd the entire audience at this enormous music festival into a big barn thing. But I digress. I also got to meet Juliet Simms, who is awesome. If you don’t know who she is, she is the singer for the band Automatic Loveletter (they aren’t super well-known, so I don’t really blame you if you haven’t heard of them. Oh man that sounded so hipster.) She was touring with Warped as a solo act, and she put on a really great show – her voice is amazing. She’s on my list of musical idols (along with Lzzy Hale, Amy Lee, and Ville Valo – if you don’t know who these people are, I urge you to find out), so it was really cool to get to meet her, and she was super nice.

All the signed CDs I got from Warped Tour, plus the compilation album. Woo! I also got a couple signed posters from Hawthorne Heights and Echosmith that I somehow managed to find wall-space in my apartment for.

I also met this awesome band called Echosmith at Warped. They are really new, their first album comes out in a couple months. But get this – they are four siblings between the ages of 14-20. Yeah, the drummer is 14. And they are good. I’m really looking forward to their album. I think they’re going to be super famous someday (and I have a signed copy of their first songs ever released!)

Another thing I like about Florida is that they do a tax-free weekend in August on things like clothes, electronics, and school supplies. So a friend and I went down to the big malls in Orlando for some shopping, (something in which I don’t frequently take part, I might add.) I bought some new clothes and running shoes and coffee cup earrings. And the government didn’t take more of my money! It was a fun day. Orlando has everything – including Panda Express. Mmmmm.

Between Kennedy Space Center, Warped Tour, and tax-free shopping (plus picking people up at the Orlando airport), I’ve put quite a few miles on my car lately! It’s not too bad of a drive though.

Those are the exciting things I’ve been up to. Other things I’ve been doing include super-cleaning my apartment last weekend, writing lab reports, reading about wave acoustics (that’s literally all I’m doing in SPRL right now), and hiding inside where it’s air-conditioned. I thought the worst of the weather was past, but boy was I wrong. It’s been consistently humid and about 100 degrees outside. It’s pretty much terrible. I also dug out my Nintendo DS and started a new game on Pokemon SoulSilver, but I got stuck at the third gym and got mad and stopped playing it.

Hopefully next week I’ll have a cool research project started that I can write about – so stay tuned for that. Then the following week I’m headed back up to Minnesota to see my family ’cause they miss me and stuff. It’s about 70 degrees there right now, so I might just not come back until Florida quits being so Florida-y. Then after that it’s fall semester! I’m really excited for this fall because I’m taking some really cool classes, but more on that later. And I get to blog for y’all again in the fall, so you’ll get to hear all about it. 🙂

I didn’t talk about much this post, so here is an astronaut sloth for your enjoyment:

“Slothstronaut”

Peace out for now, readers!

-Lynsey

Summer B and Twelve Hours at Kennedy Space Center

Hello again to all my lovely readers!

I apologize for not having written in a while, though I haven’t really had anything interesting to talk about. Now that I have some stuff, commence blog post.

Spending the evening studying up on some circuitry.

Summer B is already well upon us; I’m taking Electrical Engineering this semester. It’s definitely a change from last semester’s math class, but so far I’m enjoying it. The material is very straight forward, and the instructor let us vote not to have a final. Although that means midterms will be weighted a lot more… could be a blessing or a curse, tune in later to find out. The thing I am enjoying about circuitry is that it makes both logical and mathematical sense. When you look at the equations, you can see exactly what they mean and why, just by understanding the way electricity is moving. And I have a good solid circuits foundation from Physics III, for which I am thankful, as most of what we have done up to this point has been review. Boy does time fly though; last week was our first of two midterms and our fifth of ten labs. That means Summer B is half over, and Fall is just around the corner!

I’ve been a lot busier with school this semester than last, which is ironic because it’s a junior-level undergraduate class versus the master’s level class I took last semester. I suppose it’s probably the lab component that’s keeping me busy – an extra 4-6 hours a week, plus writing two reports. As a result I haven’t had as much time to spend in SPRL, but with CEDAR behind me my task for the time being is just reading up on some literature. A good, firm understanding of one’s field is always great, but doesn’t make for good blog content, so I’m afraid that’s really all I have to say about that.

The fourth of July holiday came and went, and I didn’t really do much. I’ve learned to play some new songs on my acoustic guitar, and picked up a copy of Final Fantasy VIII. Per countless recommendations I’ve also started (and nearly finished) watching Game of Thrones. I won’t say anything that could spoil it for those interested in watching, just that it certainly lives up to its hype. I also went down to the Port Orange library yesterday to see a guy from NASA give a presentation on Mars. It was a really cool presentation, and I even slipped him a business card afterwards. I don’t know if I’ll get anything out of it, but I never pass up an opportunity to give my business card to a NASA employee. 🙂

The Atlas V lifting off! Not a great photo, but you really can’t get anything much better without one of those fancy schmancy cameras that I’m not fortunate enough to own.

Standing underneath the Saturn V at the Apollo center. It is a massive beast of a rocket!

I know that all isn’t very exciting, so now I’ll get to the exciting part: last Friday. It all started with waking up at 5 am and leaving the house with the sun still down. If you know me, you know that that does not happen. In fact, I live by a general rule that if you wake up and the hour is not yet double digits, it’s too early to be waking up. So, you may be wondering what got me on the road at 6 am, and the answer is SPACESHIPS. You may or may not be aware that on Friday there was the largest Atlas V launch to date, which took place around 9 am. We booked it down to Kennedy Space Center and arrived at about 7ish (the sun didn’t come up until we were well down I-95), and then got on a bus to be taken to the Saturn V center at KSC. If you weren’t aware, KSC has bleachers set up there, and it is the closest you can get to the launch publicly (i.e. without sneaking onto secret government property.) After a ten minute delay due to upper-atmospheric winds, the rocket finally went off at 9 am sharp, and boy was it a sight.

One of my pictures next to Atlantis. What a sight it was!

I think we spent half the trip posing in front of cool signs.

That was pretty much the best day ever. After the launch, we spent the day at KSC, and didn’t leave until they closed at 7 pm. And let me tell you, if you’re a space-enthusiast, KSC is even better than Disney World. We saw the new Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit first, and it was AWESOME. So well done. There were some really cool short movies before you even got into the exhibit, with the last one being projected onto a dome so the shuttle footage was all around you. Then the screen lifted up and right in front of you, not more than ten or twenty feet away, is Space Shuttle Atlantis. You could get within nearly an arm’s reach of it – it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. The Space Shuttle exhibit is also home to the Shuttle Launch Simulator (which was at KSC before the Atlantis exhibit opened, though I had never had a chance to ride.) That was a really cool experience. They say that astronauts have ridden in it and said it’s as close to a real launch as you can get in a simulator.

Panoramic picture of Space Shuttle Atlantis. Click for the full-sized beauty!

NASA shuttle astronaut and astrophysicist, Dr. Sam Durrance.

Standing next to a full-size lego model of the Mars Spirit/Opportunity rover. Of course they can’t display the real ones because they’re still over on Mars.

Another cool thing at KSC is the Astronaut Encounter, where they have an astronaut come give a presentation and then you can take pictures with him afterwards. He gave a really great speech, and it was cool because, not only was he a shuttle astronaut, but also an astrophysicist. We also watched an IMAX film about the Hubble Telescope, walked around in the future explorers building (they had some cool Mars stuff there), and took tons of pictures all over the park. It was really a twelve hours well-spent. It was dark again by the time I arrived back home, and I collapsed into bed and slept straight through until about noon.

KSC is running a deal on annual passes right now in celebreation of the new shuttle exhibit, and I highly recommend taking advantage. It is only $5 than general admission, and because parking is $10 and the pass gets you free parking, it’s actually cheaper to get the pass than it is to go once at the normal rate! Plus you save 20% on all food and 10% in the gift shop (which is literally the coolest gift shop I have ever been in), and can get guests in for $10 off. It’s only about 45 minutes from campus, and makes for a fantastic trip – so head down there! I plan to go at least two or three more times before my annual pass expires.

That’s all I have to say for now. Another week starts tomorrow, and before long August will be upon us! (I apologize for the photo-heavy post, if you have a slow browser!)


The 2013 “Coupling, Energetics, and Dynamics, of Atmospheric Regions” Meeting

Greetings from Boulder, Colorado!

I’m going to be writing this entry throughout the week as events progress, but as the conference is nearly half-over (or half-started, for you optimists), I thought I should get started writing! Also for anybody interested, you can read my conference poster here. Note that it’s a hi-res PDF so it may take some time to load.

Tuesday

View of the mountains from outside my hotel room!

I’m blogging from my hotel room at the CEDAR conference while I take a break from sitting in talks that go way over my head. It’s been a great experience being here; I’ve met students from all over the country and world, and have really enjoyed talking to them. The weather is absolutely gorgeous, as is the view. This is my first time in Colorado, and I can definitely see myself calling it home someday, should the opportunity come along.

We arrived in Colorado late on Saturday night, after a long day of taking a final exam, catching a shuttle to Orlando, a delayed flight to Denver, and a shuttle to Boulder that forgot about us and ended up being an hour and a half late. It was quite lucky to have the time-change working in my favor, as I was up at 7 am the next morning (something I swear never to do) for breakfast and the beginning of the student workshop. Sunday was a whole day devoted to some lower-level talks aimed at students (albeit Masters and PhD students, so I was still pretty lost) and a lot of socializing. The group of us from Riddle, which consists of myself, three PhD students, and three Master’s students (all EP) have been pretty much sticking together, but in the last couple days we’ve also been hanging with a student from the Indian Institute of Technology, some students from Utah State and various other state colleges all over the country (I’ve lost track!), and a group of students doing an REU program at the MIT Haystack Observatory.  For those who haven’t heard that term, REU stands for Research Experience for Undergraduates, which is similar to an internship (it’s basically what I’m doing, but you usually go to another university to do it.) They are my favorite to talk to because they don’t make me feel like the kid in the group.

Panoramic picture of the mountains over the CU Boulder football stadium. They are such a sight to see, the camera just doesn’t capture it. Click for the full picture!

Yesterday we attended a fancy schmancy banquet at CU Boulder, which was a great time. The food was delicious and it gave us an opportunity to chat about all sorts of things – time flew and we almost missed the last bus back to the hotel! We all went out for “the best frozen yogurt in Boulder” afterwards and had more chance to chat in a less-formal setting. It was a blast! I regret sitting with students at the banquet rather than doing some networking with professionals, but I’ll have a better opportunity for that later in the week anyways (My plan is to schmooze some NASA guys into hooking me up with an internship.)

A few of us Riddle students after lunch in Boulder. Mountains!

The conference itself is definitely interesting, but does get boring (just being honest here!) The sessions are generally aimed at other scientists in the field, i.e. people with PhDs, so a lot of what they are talking about goes way over my head. It’s some pretty cool stuff though, and I do enjoy bits and pieces of it. Mostly it gives an impression of what it’s like to get out into the world and actually be a physicist, because until now the only viewpoint I’ve had was The Big Bang Theory. I’ve been spending a bit of time sitting in sessions, and then taking breaks to sit in my room and let my brain recuperate. The coolest talk so far has probably been the one this morning, which was a tribute to 50 years of gravity wave research. Dr. Colin Hines, the first to publish a paper on gravity waves (in 1960!),  participated in the session via phone, which was pretty cool. After that I grabbed lunch with the group from MIT Haystack and then came back for another gravity wave session, led by ERAU’s own Dr. Snively.

Tonight will be the first of two poster sessions; it is divided into “IT” and “MLT”, which stand for “Ionosphere/Thermosphere” and “Mesosphere/Lower-Thermosphere”. Basically it depends on what part of the atmosphere your research focuses on. My poster is MLT, so I’ll be presenting tomorrow evening, but I’ll definitely be out there tonight to get a feel for the session and check out the other posters from Riddle. That’s all I’ve got for now, I’ll write some more tomorrow…

Wednesday

Standing with my poster at the MLT poster session.

Today was the big day! I skipped out on all the sessions this morning to sit in my room and read over every inch of my poster – had to be ready for the big, scary questions! Well, there weren’t many big, scary questions, so that was good. Overall I think my poster presentation went well; I definitely got flustered going over my spiel so many times, but people seemed genuinely interested. And they should be, as I’m the only one here doing non-Earth research. I even handed a business card to a guy from NASA. It’s always worth a shot in the dark to say, “hey, I see you work at NASA, do you have any connections to internships?” I think he admired my forward-ness, because he took my business card and said he’d email me. You never know what can come from good networking!

After the poster session we all went into downtown Boulder for dinner – wow! I wish I had taken some pictures. It’s a really cool city, lots of small brick buildings, street performers, and little shops, bars, and restaurants. We ended up eating at this bar/restaurant, and had the whole second floor balcony to ourselves (mostly because it was the only place all 8 of us could fit!) It was a great time. And they had this raspberry red velvet torte with coffee ice cream that was divine.

Thursday

More mountains! I loved taking pictures of them.

Well, the conference is winding down. We were up way too early today for “breakfast with NSF”, where the directors of the National Science Foundation sat down with students over breakfast and just had an open conversation. It was cool, but I didn’t feel like I got much out of it. We ended up talking more about how the conference went and suggestions for next year than we did about getting jobs and working in the field. Also, we were just sitting in a big circle of chairs, and it’s really difficult to eat French toast from a plate on your lap. Just saying.

After that were the poster prizes. One of the students from Riddle and the guy from the Indian Institute of Technology with whom we have been hanging both won honorable mention awards! There was also a distinguished speaker lecture this morning by a woman who has been in this field of research for over fifty years. It was really interesting, because she talked more about her life and building her career than the actual science – she spoke about being denied entry into a PhD program in India and only being allowed to teach undergraduate physics to women, simply because she was a woman. It was a very thought-provoking lecture.

Ethiopian food! You take those bread rolls (we called them “food towels”) and use them to pick up the different foods. It was really good!

In the evening a few of us went out for Ethiopian food with the group from Utah State. It was a really cool experience – they bring one big plate of food to the table, and you all just kind of dig in (with your hands!). There is this like soft bread stuff you would rip off and use to grab the different foods. It was delicious, cultural, and a lot of fun!

Tomorrow we leave Boulder around noon. The trip over all has been fantastic, and an amazing experience. I can’t wait for next year!

Our whole group from ERAU!

Feel free to email me if you have questions about anything I have (or haven’t) talked about here. I’m always open to emails!

-Lynsey
schroel2@my.erau.edu

End of the Semester and the Brunt-Väisälä Frequency

Hello again from good ol’ Daytona Beach!

My brand new coffee table from IKEA – it really makes the living room feel like a living room. And I put it together all by myself! 😀

My life is virtually the same as it was last time I wrote. It’s still way too hot and rains a lot – but that’s all I will say about that, because I promised no more complaining about the weather. I did get the leak in my car fixed, so at least now when I drive in the rain my feet stay dry! The Summer A semester is already winding down – my final exam is this weekend! It’s crazy how fast it went. I’ll definitely have to give two thumbs up to summer classes. I’m really looking forward to having my first three grad credits under my belt. Last weekend I went down to IKEA in Orlando with some friends to get new furniture for my apartment. IKEA is always fun; if you haven’t been you should definitely go. It’s like one the essentials of being in college. Not to mention spending two hours assembling a dresser at midnight really brings people closer together. Aside from all of that I’ve been doing a lot of the same old stuff. School, work TV, music, eating a lot of Indian food take-out (I’m a little bit addicted.)

A map of the location on Mars where we are simulating gravity waves, and the corresponding altitude map. The big mountain on the right is Olympus Mons.

My research in SPRL has been going really well. We’ve been working on simulating gravity waves near Olympus Mons, which is the largest mountain in the solar system, measuring up to about 22 km high (that’s 14 miles for those of you stuck on the English system.) There are a few different types of gravity waves but the type we are working with are Buoyancy Waves, which are caused by, you guessed it, the buoyancy force. Basically what happens is that air particles are forced to move upwards in the atmosphere because there’s a giant mountain in their way. Because the air at the base of the mountain is more dense than the air it’s now surrounded by, gravity pulls it back down. Think of it like taking a pingpong ball and pushing it down into a bath tub – once you let go it flies back up into the air because it overcompensates for the density difference. Air does this too, and as gravity pulls the air down, it pulls it too far, and the buoyancy force tries to fix this by pushing it back up – but too far again and the cycle repeats over and over again creating a wave in the air.

A time-lapse plot of a wave we simulated on Mars, which has a wavelength of about 40 km! You can see that as time passes the wave moves up and begins to reflect on itself – we are further investigating this phenomenon.

These waves are similar to ripples in a pond, but way bigger – with wavelengths of tens of kilometers long. That’s huge! In general they can’t be seen by the naked eye, however they often cause ripples that allow us to observe the waves. The waves on Mars are pretty cool. They are larger than the waves on Earth, due to the fact that the Martian atmosphere has a much lower Brunt-Väisälä frequency (I’ll explain about that later.) They also do not make it as far into the upper-atmosphere as they do on Earth, and tend to reflect upon each other around 60 km. We are now working on simulating a wave over Olympus Mons with a realistic wind profile, whereas until now we have assumed zero wind. The results have been very cool so far, and I’ll definitely have something to report next week.

Plots comparing the buoyancy frequency and period for Earth (blue) and Mars (red) with respect to altitude.

So I should probably explain the Brunt-Väisälä frequency. (Super cool name, right?) This is the natural frequency at which the atmosphere resonates. Think of it like when you tap on a wine glass – the sound it makes is its resonant frequency, the sound the glass wants to make based on its size, material, etc. This happens in the atmosphere as well, however the waves are much larger (like I mentioned in the last entry) so we can’t actually hear the sound. In the atmosphere, the resonant frequency is based on the temperature, density, chemical make-up, etc., and is the maximum possible frequency for gravity waves. On Mars, the Brunt-Väisälä frequency is much lower, resulting in much larger waves. For example, on Earth, gravity waves have typical periods of 5-8 minutes, whereas on Mars they are more like 15 minutes. In comparison, sound waves have periods on the order of milliseconds – so you can see how much larger the gravity waves really are!

I feel like I should have more to say, but my life is pretty boring. Well, I leave for the CEDAR conference on Saturday after my final exam… it’s definitely crunch time! I’m really looking forward to the trip, and hoping the weather in Colorado will be nice. I’ve never been to Colorado, but I know that that part of the country is beautiful. I’m also looking forward to having a Caribou Coffee in the Denver airport! (Starbucks has nothin’ on Caribou – midwesterners will know what I’m talking about.)

Tune in after the conference, I’m sure I’ll have a lot to write about! That’s all folks.

-Lynsey
schroel2@my.erau.edu

Simulating Giant Sound Waves on Mars

Hello, again!

It’s time for another installment of “a day in the life of an awesome physics student at Embry-Riddle.”

Well the summer is in full swing; I had my first exam on Thursday, which was also my first exam of grad school, as the class I’m taking is my first master’s class for the accelerated degree. I was really confident, which means I either aced the exam or bombed it – you never really know until you get your results back. I’ve never taken summer classes before, but so far I think it’s pretty awesome. The material moves at a quick yet manageable pace, and it’s nice to only have one class to worry about after the last four semesters of 16-17 credits. My only complaint about summer classes is the “summer” part – why is it so hot outside? It’s unnatural. I really wasn’t born to live in the south; I can handle a -20º wind-chill, but as soon as the thermometer climbs above 90º that’s when I give up and hide inside. Not to mention it rains so much! (I promise I won’t complain about the weather in every entry.)

I’ve had a lot of free time, which is unusual for me, so it’s been nice. Lately I’ve been learning some new acoustic guitar songs, watching old seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and leveling a blood elf warlock. And let me just take a moment to talk about how much I love living in my own apartment off campus. Everything is finally clean, unpacked, and decorated to my liking, and I can listen to loud music in any room at any time and nobody complains about my volume, musical tastes, or singing. It’s great. I live only two minutes from campus, so it’s a nice, short commute every day. Once I figure out how to reduce my electric bill everything will be perfect!

Image of Mars’ Gale Crater from Google Earth. This location was used to generate the profile used in our acoustic wave simulations. Gale Crater was the landing site of NASA’s Curiosity rover, which landed last year.

My days are spent sitting up in the Lehman Building’s Space Physics Research Lab (which will henceforth be referred to as “SPRL”) working on my project for the CEDAR conference in late-June. I mentioned it briefly in the last entry, but I think I should elaborate, since that’s what got me this gig as a blogger. CEDAR (which stands for “Coupling, Energetics, and Dynamics of Atmospheric regions”) is an NSF-sponsered yearly atmospheric sciences meeting that focuses on instrumentation and modeling of the middle and upper atmosphere. I am working with Dr. Snively in the Department of Physical Sciences to adapt his atmospheric wave model to Martian conditions so that we can see how atmospheric acoustic and gravity waves, which are a bit like ocean waves, but in the atmosphere, propagate on Mars in comparison to Earth (if you’re interested, my project abstract is here).

Some plots of relevant atmospheric data on Mars generated by the profile used in our simulations.

We are using MarsGRAM (Mars Global Reference Atomic Model) data provided by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center to specify many different properties of the atmosphere, which has proven very interesting! This data is then used to generate a profile, which essentially shows the temperature, density, pressure, etc. as you travel up through the atmosphere (it’s really just a big table of numbers), and then the profile is loaded into the wave dynamics model. The model produces a simulation based on some inputs, such as frequency, amplitude, etc., and we watch how the wave behaves as it moves upward.

Animation of a nonlinear acoustic wave traveling up through the Martian atmosphere. The one-dimensional simulation is laid over the two-dimensional simulation in order to determine that the results of each are valid. This wave has a frequency of 0.032 Hz, which corresponds to a wavelength of about 31 km. (Click on thumbnail to watch animation.) Note that the axes correspond to the 2-D results (and are in meters – please disregard the error in the labeling.)

This past week we successfully simulated an acoustic wave in both a one-dimensional and two-dimensional model and confirmed that the results agreed. Acoustic waves are really cool – they are essentially giant sound waves that move up through the atmosphere until the air becomes too sparse and viscous, causing them to dissipate. We’ve found that this happens really quickly on Mars compared to Earth, due to the increasing viscosity at higher altitudes. The waves we have been simulating have frequencies of about 0.03 Hz. For perspective, note that the average human can hear frequencies ranging from 20-20,000 Hz, so these waves are much larger and lower-frequency than ordinary sound waves.

The next phase of the project is to simulate two-dimensional gravity waves, which I will talk about in my next entry!

Before I close out this entry, I wanted to touch back on what I said last time about going where life takes you. I came into Riddle as an Aerospace Engineering student, but was converted to Engineering Physics after my first semester due to the fact that I love physics and space and don’t really care about designing airplanes (blasphemy, I know.) Deep down I definitely feel like an EP student, and never once regret my change. In fact, the more I go through my coursework, the more I find myself leaning towards physics and research and away from actual engineering – I took the “gauntlet” (solids, dynamics, and fluids, which are engineering sciences classes you take your sophomore year), and pretty much hated them (though I did like fluids, but that was because professor Davids is awesome!) Plus I am loving what I am doing here in SPRL. I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’m going to do after Riddle, and, while my plan had always been BS then MS then Work in engineering then PhD maybe later, I am thinking more about going straight onto my PhD and getting involved in space and astrophysics research.

Tune in next week, I’ll have some really cool Mars stuff to share with y’all! (Yeah, I’m becoming a southerner. I say that now.) Be sure to email me if there’s anything you’d like me to write about Riddle, otherwise I’ll just keep rambling on about my life in every entry.

-Lynsey
schroel2@my.erau.edu