Geant4 Install and Grasshopper Tool

Geant4 is not the easiest particle physics simulation toolkit to install. I recently spent a while trying to figure how to bring this program onto my laptop computer. I will need to write up a more detailed explanation at some point but this is just to explain my happiness at learning some more about makefiles, UNIX, and various debian repository libraries. My undergraduate thesis will involve improving a front-end for Geant4 so that anyone with knowledge of GDML (type of XML) can run small scale physics simulations.

Scooter Chain Inspection

 In the summer, I worked on a small electric scooter for a bit. I found that the chain that was originally with the chain drive had suffered from the elements and I promptly ordered a new chain from the McMaster Carr website. I had a bit of an issue with the chain I ordered however, the chain I got was 3 links too long. As a result, I had to reduce the number of links in the chain through a convoluted method that involved a grinder and an arbor press. It's incredibly hard to fit a 0.2cm roller pin into a master link by eye. But a few minutes of dropping the pin on the ground and searching for it again and again finally paid off. And I got to ride around Cambridge at 8x my walking speed. However, the grinding caused the chain to rust at a much accelerated rate. I realized a few days ago that the chain was fit to break. After some torque stress, I got the chain to break. I learned a few things about identifying an improper part. Some of the things I could have done before it got bad include, lubricating the chain more, anodizing the chain again where I worked on it, or perhaps using better tools which wouldn't mark the chain up so much (ie not a grinder).

Book Review of "The Sirens of Titan"

I recently finished Kurt Vonnegut's The Sirens of Titan. I picked up the book at a used book store near Harvard Square called Raven's Used Books. It's interesting that the book store is open fairly late on weekday nights, around 9pm some nights. The selection had immense depth and breadth for a small, 1-story storefront. I will likely return after I finish a few other titles I have sitting on the lower shelf of my coffee table.

(Spoiler Alert: No major plot points will be revealed but certain character aspects will be considered.)

Sirens of Titan (SoT) is a short planetary epic about how we are all "the victim of a series of accidents". One of Vonnegut's early novels, it yields a number of questions related to free will and all-powerful forces at play in and around our lives. The main two characters are Malachi Constant (MC) and Winston Niles Rumfoord (WNR) who participate in the main subject matter of the story. Both characters are incredibly wealthy in a way which defies normal society motifs. One throws parties to the greatest extent they can while the other uses their wealth to fly privately owned spacecraft. In part, SoT is an experience in Vonnegut's approach to human experiences of inequality. While reading the first part, before matters turn to the planet Mars, I found the way characters express emotion to be incredibly robotic.

I'm intrigued what influences Vonnegut had which helped them create the WNR character. In other Vonnegut titles, characters have been exposed as people Vonnegut may have met in real life brought to some extreme of their personality. I ask myself whether Vonnegut wanted to poke fun at the actions of someone in power in society when the book was being written. Published in 1959, the title was released in a time of transition past the 'post-war' period strongly into the cold war mindset.

Returning to the story, I do not see WNR as a protagonist, many readers could say that there is no protagonist in the novel, similarly in many other Vonnegut novels. MC is most certainty not a protagonist as they do not seek to act altruistically during much of the story, however that's somewhat out of their control in some aspects...

What is interesting in the book are the differences between WNR and MC and how they interact. I would recommend this book purely based on examining how the two main characters interact. Given the large plots at work that happen throughout the book, it is interesting to see their relationship as one of necessity. WNR needs MC, their goals are strictly aligned against the action of MC. Some readers, myself included, do not truly understand the motivations behind WNR as it is intentionally vague in some ways; but WNR chooses MC and we see an interesting story based on one powerful person's reliance upon the seemingly organic actions of another person.

Quite a good read and I found myself turning back to this novel multiply times during the night to read passages I passed. I'd rate it 3/4 or something equivalent.

Last Friday's Concert

Last Friday was Fred Fest, my dorm's annual concert and my band Fred Desk ('Fred' comes from a joke name of my dorm, called East Campus) played. We had a good time and I think I was showing a happy face most of the time but this photo shows otherwise. I guess my enthusiasm came through and my vocals were just very strong? It was a good time.

I'm happy to be free from the stress involved with putting on a good show. Now I'll have a few more hours this week to put into my studies.
Look at this tiny fridge! Thermoelectric!

 2.009 Competition in Killian

IKEA Trip on Sunday

More pictures to come, my hall at East Campus rented a UHaul van on Sunday and we travelled to Stoughton MA to visit the local-ish IKEA. For those who don't know, IKEA is a modern furniture store with a big box feel. There is a showroom area with example rooms and furniture to examine, then afterwards, there is a warehouse of cardboard boxes to retrieve your chosen purchases. It's a good time.

I got a loveseat, chair, lamp, and coffee table. I'm currently trying to fix the aesthetic of my room. I need to remove a lot of useless materials from my abode.

Halfway to Master

  I'm back in Geneva, Switzerland, on a wonderful trip to visit Coyote. Last Friday, we went out on the town and later this week we plan...