Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Out Exploring

Well, yesterday's class was pretty standard. It was full of introductions, and some teaser experiments for the days to come. At one point, I went to the bathroom, and when I came back everyone exclaimed that I missed the exploding gummy bear. That was slightly disappointing.

For dinner, my RAs brought our suite group (minus three girls) out to dinner at Katz's Deli downtown. It was there that I experienced my first true New York Deli food and rush. We stood in long lines, just to discover we had to go to a different line. We eyed the numerous, and famous, pastrami sandwiches make their way around the deli or out onto the street. We sat admist chattering people -- of numerous languages, by the way -- and surrounded by the wonderful smells of a deli.

Today was the second day of classes, and it was much better. In the morning, we conducted our first lab experiment. Its purpose was to determine the freezing point of acetic acid with and without stirring, and also to compare them. Of course, there were several errors -- enough for our mentors to cancel the lab report that was to be due tomorrow. Yay! But later on we segregated into our groups and discussed our results.

For lunch, our professor brought in several Columbian graduate students to speak with us about various areas in chemistry. I joined someone involved in both organic chemistry and biochemistry, and after we ate lunch, he brought me and another student to see the Chandler Labs, where we learned about many different tools and learned about the different projects he worked on. It's actually amazing, because he just recently created a compound that can be put into neurons and make them glow. Thus, they can follow the cells in the brain, and specifically determine the functions of the brain. He's got three patents on it already.

After lunch, the students congregated in the seminar room and split up into groups to discuss their experiments before the guest speaker came. Today, our speaker was Professor Ged Parkin, and he lectured about his discovery that the theory about bond-stretch isomers is actually false. That which people assume to be bond-stretch isomers are, in reality, a mixture of two compounds -- the power of both average into the same power of the original. It's difficult to explain because I don't have a solid grasp on the concept, but I can say that it really was fascinating. Plus, he had a sense of humor -- and some magic tricks! This lecture made me more interested in chemistry, actually.

Oh, and I'd like to note that walking around the immediate campus at night with the cool air and peaceful atmosphere is really calming. The campus is really pretty at night.

PS: Sponsors, thank you so much for giving us this opportunity. I am having such a wonderful time, learning new things, experiencing life as a college student, and creating close bonds with other people. I am sure I won't regret these coming weeks.

1 comment:

Don Gosney said...


You MISSED the famous exploding Gummy Bear experiment? Tell me again just why we sent you to Columbia? we heard about it (and watched the video) even back here on the Left Coast.

This should be a lesson to you to never eat or drink 24 hours before a class. That way you won't feel compelled to visit the loo and miss something important.

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