Friday, January 19, 2007

Five Things

I have been tagged by Purls and Murmurs. It works like this:
  1. Someone tags you.
  2. You post five things about yourself that you haven’t already mentioned on your blog
  3. You tag 5 people you’d like to know more about
I wrote and successfully defended a PhD thesis entitled "Simulations of Energy Transfer and Collision Dynamics in Small Molecules & in Cluster Ions" aka JILA thesis #257. JILA is the place formerly known as the Joint Institute of Laboratory Astrophysics. As you can see from the title, JILA has strayed far beyond Astrophysics. The thesis involved performing a 10-dimensional symplectic coordinate transformation. Sometimes, I can't believe I am the same person that pulled that one off. [BTW, I also have a BS in Chemistry and a BA in Mathematics from UC Berkeley.]

In fourth grade we were asked to write about a day in our lives 20 years in the future. Everyone else wrote about their big homes and fancy cars. I wrote a science fiction story about going to work in my electric vehicle running off solar energy. In this story, I took my daughter to school first before going to work in a government laboratory where I did something related to space and environmental science. Maybe it was a lack of flexibility or imagination on my part, but I became exactly that. OK, I don't go to work in a solar electric vehicle. However, until I became ill, I bicycle-commuted or took the bus. I was even the co-president of my workplace's bicycle-commuting club. I am fueled by food that grows in sunlight.

I was a late bloomer academically. In fact, I often got into trouble for not paying attention in class. Once, in kindergarten, I spent the whole morning in the wrong classroom and didn't notice until lunchtime. To be fair, the teachers didn't notice either.

In one of my earliest recollections, I was looking out a sunny window at the sun, the sky, and watching the Brownian motion of the dust particles indoors. I was also stroking a piece of cotton fabric, alternately making folds and then smoothing them back down. I liked the feel of the fabric and looking at the shadows that the folded fabric made in the sunlight. I was attracted to sun, sky, particle trajectories, topology, and fabric from an early age.

In high school, I worked harder and longer on competitive sports than academics. This was a poor use of my time as Caltech was the only school interested in me athletically. However, I doubted their sincerity; I thought they were secretly interested in my math skills. I ended up at a division I school where the coaches told me not to even bother trying out.

Now whom to tag? For some people, it might be an imposition. Therefore, I must be careful.
Sitting Knitting, Studio 78 Notes, Red Shoe Ramblings, croque-choux, and Bad Dad, consider yourself tagged.


  1. Yikes! I don't think I can find five things as interesting as these. Maybe I'll have to invent some.

  2. Ok, mine's up! :-)

  3. WOW! I love that your subject is just as tongue-tying as I expect with physics. Heh.

    You're awesome!


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