Thursday, August 14, 2014

Changes and Setup (Thu 8/14)

Spent the whole morning doing a run through of everybody's presentations. Got a lot of good feedback, which led to an afternoon of tweaking, and adding animations to help the flow of the story. I also set up the Science Sphere in the Auditorium for the presentation tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Yet more PowerPoint (Tue 8/12)

Came in around lunch time today, allowing me to sleep in after our Mees trip. While I was in, Jimmy and I worked on our presentation for the intern presentations on Friday.

Finishing Touches (Wed 8/13)

Put the finishing touches on our draft version of the PowerPoint for tomorrow's run through.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Mees Observatory Visit (Mon 8/11)

Today was the day for our visit to the Mees Observatory down in Bristol. On a personal note, had a sad moment when we went by Bristol Ski Resort, and the whole mountain was green. When we got there, we had a pretty good time waiting for sunset, between the free food and the soccer game we started up. After that, we saw a presentation about the observatory, as well as many astronomical objects. Unfortunately, we picked a rather cloudy night, so we couldn't see much. However, once we got up to the observatory, we were able to observe the crook of the handle of the Big Dipper, which is really six stars. With the power of the Mees telescope, we were able to see three separate stars where only one is visible with the naked eye. Overall, it was a pretty cool experience, and free food and soccer are never bad things.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Undergrad Research Symposium (Fri 8/8)

Spent the day at the Undergrad Research Symposium at the RIT Inn and Conference Center. Spent the morning going around to different sessions. Got to learn about such diverse topics as Augmented Reality for use in Museums, Serious Gaming for Disaster Risk Reduction, and then went to look at the presentations by the REU students. After that, we had our presentation of the Science Sphere Suitcase, which I thought went pretty well. Finally, we went back to CIS to watch Star Wars IV, and had some free pizza.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

PowerPoints part 2 (Thu 8/7)

In place of our normal 10:30 meeting, everyone came down to view a test run of Zach and Chase's PowerPoint for the undergrad research symposium. While they had most of it fairly well off, Bethany and Dr. Messenger were able to give us a handful of suggestions which kept us busy for the rest of the day.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

PowerPoints (Wed 8/6)

Spent most of the day working on and helping with PowerPoints, both for the Undergrad research symposium, as well as for our own symposium a week from now. I helped Chase and Zach go over their outline for their presentation, as well as begin to create some slides. I also helped Jimmy with our intern slideshow, which is pretty close to completion.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Some New Ideas (Tue 8/5)

This morning, after our normal intern and Insight Lab meetings, we met with Professor Mike Richmond, one of the astronomy professors, to discuss some ideas for lesson plans and other future projects with the Science Sphere. He had some really good ideas, including demonstrating the difference between the rotation of solid celestial objects and gaseous ones, as well as showing eclipses, with a possible link to the way that the Ancient Greeks discovered that the Earth is round. The only problem is, I'm not sure we'll have much time to implement these ideas this summer, especially with the fact that we have to clean out the Insight Lab so that it can be remade into offices for grad students. Either way, it gave me a lot to think about as I took off early to go to the Blue Jays game in Toronto.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Taking Apart and Putting Together (Mon 8/4)

Spent the morning putting some more finishing touches on the offline version of the STN. After lunch, we moved on to packing up Space Adventure, so that the classroom we are in could be painted once we leave, and then used during the upcoming school year. It came down pretty easily, despite some trouble with one of the joints, as well as figuring out the best way to store the screens. After that, we got some pool noodles from Walmart to use for the stand for the Science Sphere. The noodles bend out, allowing the sphere to balance more easily, and actually gives the sphere some give before falling. The one kind of sad note from this is that the noodles now take up almost half of the suitcase. There should still be plenty of room, but it feels strange that among all of the hundreds of dollars of equipment, cheap foam noodles now take up by far the most space.

Friday, August 1, 2014

A Restful Day (Fri 8/1)

Worked a little more on the STN, but spent most of the day resting. Between a stop at Java's with other interns and the weekly volleyball game, I had a pretty relaxing day before heading off to Colleges and Careers for the weekend.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Showing off our Toys (Thu 7/31)

Spent a good part of the morning in meetings again. Started off with the normal intern meeting, which went on into peer review of our presentation outlines. Naturally, that took a while, and we had about a 5 minute turn around before our 10:30 meeting. However, the meetings weren't all bad, as Jimmy and I both won Blog of the Week, and we got free t-shirts. At about 10:25, we found out that our Thursday meeting, which was normally shared with the REU students, would be solely Insight Lab. In that meeting, we showed our remaining projects to Bethany and Bob, including the Space Adventure, Scales of the Universe, the Planeteranium, and Interactive Landscapes. Before lunch, we got in a pretty good game of soccer, with Jimmy and I combining to pack a solid offensive threat.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Presentation Outline

Here is the link to the presentation outline for Jimmy and I at the Insight Lab

Please feel free to comment

Restarting some older projects (Wed 7/30)

Spent today working on getting some of the other Insight Lab projects up and running. After some trouble with projectors, Zach was able to get both Space Adventure and Scales of the Universe running. Meanwhile, Jimmy and I continued working on the offline version of the STN.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Meetings upon Meetings (Tue 7/29)

After the normal intern meeting to start the day, we went almost directly into our Insight Lab meeting. There, we met the new interim director of the Imaging Science department. From our conversations with him, we learned that the Insight Lab will not be continued this fall, but may be reopened at a later date. Thus, we need to catalog and document all of our projects so that they can be picked up by whoever may continue them, whenever that may happen. Spent the remainder of the day putting some more finishing touches on the SuN, now renamed to the STN, or Sun Time-Lapse Navigator, including downloading and implementing more wavelengths in the offline version.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Lights. Camera. Lunch Break (Mon 7/28)

In the morning, I downloaded some more images, while Jimmy worked on coding the offline version of the SuN. After our run to Cross Roads in the rain, we began working more on the instruction manual and video with Austin and Rajab. We began filming, and got as far as inflating the ball before Rajab decided it was time for him to go to lunch. While that was going on, I found a really cool rubber band crossbow for Abraham to 3D print. If it works, he's taking the first one, and I have dibs on the second one.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Downloading Images (Fri 7/25)

First off, the Lenovo laptop seemed to be running smoothly enough with Windows 8 installed, and we were finally contacted with a registration key for Smoothboard for the Lenovo. Apart from that, we spent most of the day manually downloading images from the SDO for some of the wavelengths with inconsistent time codes. This will be for a different version of the SuN, which will be able to run without a network connection

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Different Options (Thu 7/24)

Today's meeting combined with the REU students brought some questions about our code, as well as some possible answers. Bethany suggested that instead of attempting to retrieve and check the images from the server each time the program is run, that we could instead download 100 images from each wavelength, and have them be accessed from the computer itself. This would allow the SuN to be run without a network connection, which is something that not all schools necessarily have. This is something that we have to consider, but the DSE still needs a network connection, which is something that are not able to change. We worked on this, as well as the other bugs we've been trying to squish for the remainder of the day. Also tried a factory reset to Windows 8 with the Lenovo laptop, as it had slowed right back down about a day after we tried the previous factory reset. I had to leave early for a doctor's appointment, so I'll see how well this worked tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Thank you Maryam (Wed 7/23)

We brought Maryam in this morning to attempt to help us understand the interaction between our code and the server as the images are retrieved. She told us how the browser communicates with the server, and that there is a simple check in Python, which would lead you to believe that there would be a similar check for a 404 error in JavaScript. We continued working on this, but still couldn't get the code to pick up the 404 error before the images have already been loaded.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Defined Roles (Tue 7/22)

Had our first Insight lab only meeting this morning, as opposed to the combined meetings which were previously combined with the REU students. Those combined meetings will continue happening on Thursday. At that meeting, we defined everybody's jobs moving forward, as almost all of the students in the lab will now be helping us with some parts of the suit case. After the meeting, we continued trying to work through the same bugs we've been dealing with.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Nobody likes CSS (Mon, 7/21)

Spent most of today trying to get the instructions guide to fit onto the sphere when projected. I was trying to help Jimmy with the problem, and Zach was working on it at the same time. It took far too long for such a simple problem, but eventually, they both succeeded at around the same time. I really enjoyed the talk with Matt Montanero at lunch time, it gave me some good insight into college and beyond.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Fooling the Computer (Fri, 7/18)

Began working to make the program more user friendly by working with the instructions that Jimmy made. Spent the majority of the morning trying to figure out a way to have a button on the Wii remote bring up the guide which came up with a click. I finally accomplished this by having the program simulate a click on the button when the enter button is pressed. Once this was done, I was able to have it bring up the same pop-up on load of the page. After the picnic and volleyball game, I tried to help Jimmy fit the instructions guide onto the sun, so that it displays correctly on the sphere

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Fixing the Egg (Thu, 7/17)

Biggest achievement today was getting the sun to fit correctly on the sphere while being projected from the Lenovo lap top. This was achieved by changing the dimensions of the picture in the source code. I originally did this with CSS, changing the dimensions in inches. However, I then tried to adjust the dimensions of only the green sun using JavaScript, and that required that the picture was set within the image tag, using pixels. Even though I made this change, the green sun was not very cooperative. The image itself is still 1024, but the sun itself is smaller. Thus, there is a larger border around the outside of the sun, and so when the sun is re-sized to fit the sphere, it is lower than all of the other images, and so it does not project onto the sphere.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


Throughout recent years, many technological advancements have allowed for scientific topics which once seemed far too remote to become accessible to the average person. We are hoping to continue with this trend by creating the Science-Sphere suitcase, along with the software which goes with it. The Science-Sphere is an inflatable plastic sphere, which is used as a 3D projection surface for spherical objects. The Science-Sphere can make use of both the Digital Solar Explorer, or DSE, as well as the Sun Navigator, or SuN. The DSE makes use of the existing template of Google Earth in order to show a 3D model of the surface of the sun at different wavelengths of light, as well as provide several facts about the sun. We will expand the DSE in the future to include images of other cosmological objects, such as planets, as well as certain organs, such as the eyeball. The SuN, on the other hand, allows the user to navigate through images of the sun across time, as well as in different wavelengths of light. Both of these projects, in combination with the Science-Sphere, will make science more accessible and more interesting, and hopefully inspire a love of science in those who use and see them.

Our List of Problems (Wed, 7/16)

We have a prototype of the SuN up on Google Drive, ready to be edited, as well as a list of problems that we need to address. These include the problems we've been having getting the projection to work with the Lenovo laptop, perfecting the way in which the code recognizes image errors, so that we maintain 100 images for each wavelength, and having an instructions guide, both for setting up the sphere, and for the Wii buttons that need to be pressed to operate the SuN.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Hello, egg (Tue, 7/15)

Spent most of the day trying to fix the small, stupid errors that kept popping up. The projection system worked fine on the laptop we had it on, but when we tried to transfer it to the Lenovo which is supposed to go with the system, we ran into two problems. First, the license we had for Smoothboard, the software which interacts with the Wii remote, was limited to the first computer, and so the Lenovo was running an unlicensed version. Second, even though the Lenovo had the same screen size and settings as the HP we were using previously, the aspect ratio of the projection was messed up, either being too wide or too tall as we tried to adjust the settings. We grew pretty tired of seeing the sun pop up in the shape of an egg. Finally, I made a crude pulley out of a binder clip in the ceiling. Whether or not it was 100% necessary is debatable, but it sure does work.

Monday, July 14, 2014

We made Bucci proud (Mon, 7/14)

Today we made some real progress on the SuN. Before lunch, we made a few changes to the code, and then went to the other lab to begin setting up the Science-Sphere and connecting the Wii remote. Jimmy and I had to hunt through the whole building, with the help of Bob, to find 6 batteries for the Wii remote and the wireless sensor bar. Of course, we found them in the most obvious place, the main office. After lunch, I went to go visit a few other people's labs. I broke Adam's code again, allowing him to make more changes. Also, the DIY camera lab is far too comfortable, we may have to confiscate one of their chairs. After that, we were able to get the projector to project correctly onto the sphere, and configured the Wii remote to control the passage of time of the sun. Then we brought everyone down to view our progress, and Nick Bucci, the head undergrad in the lab, said he was proud of our progress. After that, the suitcase for the Science-Sphere finally arrived. Only then did we realize that it came in pink. We were able to fit everything in the suitcase, with room to spare for the few remaining parts that have to be purchased.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Waiting on Shirts and Shipping (Fri, 7/11)

Spent most of the first half of the day trying to co-ordinate the vote on our t-shirt design. Between tracking who had and hadn't voted, and additional designs that I hadn't seen for one reason or another, the process was far more complicated than it had to be. Helped Jimmy figure out a problem he was having with the Prototype, and between our two versions, we should be able to move forward with the project as soon as all of the parts have arrived. As far as I know, we are only really waiting for the suitcase itself to come in. After lunch, Jimmy, David, Abraham, and I went to visit Adam in his lab. He showed us the php script he had been working on to generate random math questions. I answered the question and broke the program within 5 seconds of touching it. After we left, he discovered that he had been using an old version of the script, so it worked again. For the afternoon, we worked on making some small tweaks to the Prototype, as well as trying to come up with an actual name for it. The best results were either the Educational Solar Projection Navigator (ESPN), or the Solar Universal Navigator (SUN). I also made a new KMZ file of another wavelength to be used with the DSE.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Making progress towards being able to work on the Science-sphere (Thu, 7/10)

Started the day making a few changes to my totally "useful" page that I made with HTML and JavaScript. On the click of the button, it now picks a random platypus out of 3, displays the picture, and tracks the number of times each one has been displayed. Then, after a coffee break with the undergrads, I began trying to install Google Earth, since that is used to display all of the images for the digital solar explorer. The download went smoothly, but once I opened it, I got an error message that it could not reach the proper server, and was redirected to another site. After reading a bunch of solutions to other peoples' similar problems, I finally discovered that I had to change some DNS settings in the network, and it finally worked. After that, I was able to view a couple of the different wavelengths of the sun. We should be able to start working on the Science-sphere suitcase prototype as soon as the parts arrive. At the end of the day, we got to look at the code for the prototype, and began trying to fix a few problems they've been having

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

404 error: title not found (Wed, 7/9)

Spent most of the day trying to get the prototype to load pictures correctly, and recognize when the website returns a 404 error. Jimmy and I spent most of the afternoon trying to make sense of the six digit time codes which seemingly have nothing to do with the actual time the satellite took the picture, since the code requires the full url of the picture in order to retrieve it from the NASA site. Tried to tackle the code for a while, and then looked up facts about the sun for the DSE.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Adventures in JavaScript (Tue, 7/8)

Spent most of the morning learning JavaScript. Went to a meeting with the Insight Lab and the REU, got to learn about everyone's projects. After lunch, went on to learn about HTML. Got the source code for all the SET projects, but had to wait a while for them to download. Also downloaded Celestia, which runs the project, and played around with it to view planets and stars in the solar system and beyond. Experimented a little with html and javascript, made a picture of a platypus change into a picture of a different platypus.

Monday, July 7, 2014

First Day (Mon, 7/7)

Today was a good first day. Despite the rain during the scavenger hunt, and not winning the overall competition, Team Walrus still won paper plate awards for Shortest Film, and Most Random. I still maintain that the walruses were a necessary addition. After that, Jimmy and I headed down to the Insight Lab, where we got to see a few of the projects they've been working on, and that we'll be helping with. Finally, I wrote my bio for the lab's website, and then this blog.