Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Antarctic Splendor

Today I made progress. Well, at least progress for me. I am currently trying to mount a distance sensor inside the telescope to measure our mirror separation. While analyzing some data from the sensor I realized something very interesting about it. The way the sensor works is by measuring the reflection of sound pulses off of some target. The travel time of the pulse, plus the speed of sound in the air, gives you the distance. The speed of sound is sensitive to the temperature of the air. So this device is designed to measure the temperature and adjust. Yet, if the air temperature varies rapidly, the sensor does not equilibrate fast enough and produces some error. For temperature changes due to the weather, this shows up as a drift in the distance measured on the timescale of hours. If the change were due to air turbulence in the line of sight between the sensor and target, this would result in rapid fluctuations and a spread in the position.

So, I thought all the noise in my data was due only to the air turbulence. What I discovered today though, was that while this was still true, my sensor was actually measuring 3 different points, each with their own spread, that appear to blend together. I’m not sure what to do now, but at least I’ve made progress! Anyway, that was boring.

A very funny thing happened today, well funny in a South Pole sort of way. After dinner I went to the store and picked up a movie to watch tonight, American Splendor. As I made my way back to my room, I decided to peek into the lounge and see if anyone was watching a movie in there. There was only one dude, a nicer older guy, and he appeared to watching something reminiscent of a Jane Austen novel. Well, I was drawn in for about a minute due to some sexual tension in the film that might have yielded something interesting.

(ahem … I don’t know how to do dialogue well, so bear with me …)

“So, whatcha watching here?” I say to the dude.
“Hmmm, you know, I don’t know. I came in and it was just playing.” He replied, himself confused. “I was just waiting for it to heat up!”
“Ha, me too!” I laughed.

Well, it turned out to be a bit of an oddball British comedy; sort of mocking the Jane Austen genre. It was about an upper class degenerate British family in the early 1900’s vacationing in Italy and India. The daughter sleeps with the servant, gets pregnant, almost marries an obviously homosexual family friend, but the servant interrupts at the last minute and wins her hand. Blatant sexist, classist and mildly racist humor chalk full of good ole British wit.

Ok, so that’s not the funny thing. The funny thing is that one at a time; these big smelly dudes start filing in and getting all into it!

“Hey, whatcha guys watchin?”
“Um, we don’t know, its British.”
“Oh, huh, whats happenin …”
“The girl thinks she’s preganant”
“Oh, but its not his?”
“It is, it is … shhhh!”

HAHAHAHA. Man, it was great; everyone was laughing at this totally absurd silly romantic comedy. In the end, we checked the movie title (only after rewinding … it was a VHS cassette), “Stiff Upper Lip”. HAHAHAHA.

So I also walked through these creepy tunnels the other day and still haven’t mentioned them or posted pictures. I will, but not now. I’m tired.

Oh yeah, American Splendor was a really really really good movie. I’ve seen a lot of good movies lately, but this one stands out. It’s about a regular guy.


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