Monday, February 24, 2014

My Vocabulary #3

pulsar - a celestial object, thought to be a rapidly rotating neutron star, that emits regular pulses of radio waves and other electromagnetic radiation at rates of up to one thousand pulses per second

x-ray - electromagnetic radiation of high energy and very short wavelength that is able to pass through many materials of high energy and very short wavelength that is able to pass through many materials opaque to light

telescope - an optical instrument designed to make distant objects appear nearer, containing an arrangement of lenses, or of curved mirrors and lenses, by which rays of light are collected and focused and the resulting image is magnified

research - the systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions

earth - the planet on which we live; the world
Earth is the only known planet with life on it.

radiation - the emission of energy as electromagnetic waves or as moving subatomic particles, esp. high-energy particles that cause ionization

gas - an air like fluid substance which expands freely to fill any space available; irrespective of its quantity

particle - a minute portion of matter

impact - the action of one object coming forcibly into contact with another

light year - a unit of astronomical distance equivalent to the distance that light travels in one year, which is 9.4607x10^12 km (nearly 6 trillion miles)

relativity - the absence of standards of absolute and universal application

heat - the quality of being hot; high temperature

milky way








Sunday, February 23, 2014

Spring Literary Analysis: #2


Looking for Alaska

1. This novel is about a boy named Miles, nicknamed Pudge, and how he is in search of "The Great Perhaps". He decides to go to a boarding school for his last two years of high school and meets interesting people and actually has friends, something he lacked growing up. He learns a lot about life and death and all the suffering that happens in between. The observable conflict in this novel is dealing with death and suffering in life. The deeper conflict in this novel is trying to find out who you are and how to make the best out of what you have.

2. The theme of this novel is that no matter how boring or bland your life may seem, unexpected things will happen whether they be good or bad. Life presents itself and you have to take every opportunity you can. No matter what it is whether it be something big like moving to a different state to go to school or something small like smoking a cigarette for the first time, everything leads to something much bigger. 

3. The author's tone throughout the story is a hopeful sort of loneliness throughout the first half of the book and an obvious sadness throughout the second half. An example of the hopeful loneliness would be, "And when that final Friday came, when my packing was mostly done, she sat with my dad and me on the living-room couch at 4:56 P.M. and patiently awaited the arrival of the Good-bye to Miles Cavalry. Said cavalry consisted of exactly two people: Marie Lawson, a tiny blonde with rectangular glasses, and her chunky (to put it charitably) boyfriend, Will." (Page 3) Another example of the hopeful loneliness is, "'So this guy,' I said, standing in the doorway of the living room. 'Fracois Rabelais. He was this poet. And his last words were "I go to seek a Great Perhaps.' That's why I'm going. So I don't have to wait until I die to start seeking a Great Perhaps." (Page 5)

4. "Dolores insisted that Alaska and I share the bed, and she slept on the pull-out while the Colonel and was out in his tent. I worried he would get cold, but frankly I wasn't about to give up my bed with Alaska. We had separate blankets, and there were never fewer than three layers between us, but the possibilities kept me up half the night." (Page 92) I think this quote describes the text's theme quite well. It's one of the examples that things are always just out of reach in Miles' life especially when it came to Alaska. The first half and the second half of the book have two themes in my opinion. Miles changes pretty heavily in the second half when Alaska dies. An example of this would be, "The Colonel sat down next to me in religion class, sighed, and said, 'You reek of smoke, Pudge.' 'Ask me if I give a shit'." (Page 157) Pudge eventually calms down and isn't so withdrawn and rude to everyone but he is for awhile after she dies. He seems to be very depressed and frustrated and always takes it out on others. "The Colonel pulled a cigarette out of his pack and threw it into the water. 'What the Hell?' I asked. 'For her,' he said. I half smiled and followed his lead, throwing in a cigarette of my own. I handed Takumi and Lara cigarettes, and they followed suit." (Page 193) This quote describes the tone of the second half of the book quite well because it's a sad sense of closure. These four friends, previously five, all joined together at their favorite spot to commemorate their dead friend by throwing cigarettes into a stream. "'I walked to Montevallo.' 'Forty miles?!' 'Forty-two,' he corrected me. 'Well. Forty-two there. Forty-two back. Eighty-two miles. No. Eighty-four. Yes. Eighty-four miles in forty-five hours.' 'What the hell's in Montevallo?' I asked. 'Not much. I just walked till I got too cold, and then I turned around.' 'You didn't sleep?' 'No! The dreams are terrible. In my dreams, she doesn't even look like herself anymore. I don't even remember what she looked like.'" (Page 149) I know this quote is long but it really shows the difference between Miles and the Colonel when it comes to how they dealt with Alaska's death. They each have their own way of dealing with what could have been prevented and you can't help but feel bad for the them. "...and for a few moments, it was just the three of us-three bodies and two people-the three who knew what had happened and too many layers between all of us, too much keeping us from one another." (Page 152) There is an obvious tone of sadness and hopelessness in this quote that is hard to ignore. Miles wishes he could have done many things before Alaska's death but one thing is that he wishes he told her how he felt about her. I think the author has many purposes for writing this novel but one that really stood out for me was a cliche one and that is Carpe Diem. "I hadn't thought of her smell since she died. But when the Colonel opened the door, I caught the edge of her scent: wet dirt and grass and cigarette smoke, and beneath that the vestiges of vanilla-scented skin lotion." (Page 153) Something as simple as someone's scent is something you almost always take for granted until they are gone. You shouldn't let anything pass you by and you should appreciate everything while you're here. "He was shaken by the overwhelming revelation that the headlong race between his misfortunes and his dreams was at that moment reaching the finish line. The rest was darkness. 'Damn it,' he sighed. 'How will I ever get out of this labyrinth!'" (Page 155) This is a quote from Alaska's favorite book and it was when Pudge went to her room to find it. What Alaska got out of the quote was that the labyrinth of suffering. Not life or death. I think this is important to note because it is probably the biggest and most obvious theme of the book. Alaska takes her own life because she wants out of the labyrinth of suffering and that was the only way she saw fit and it drastically effected the other characters in the story. "'Okay. This is it, though.' He poured a sip of vodka into a Dixie cup, swallowed, pursed his lips, and squeezed his hands into tight little fists. 'Oh god, this is bad. It's so much better with milk. This better be two-four.'" (Page 179) After both of them had their frustrations let out and their mourning period was over they wanted to figure out what drove Alaska to committing suicide. The Colonel had been wanting to do that for awhile but Pudge just told him off every time. This created a tone of curiosity and investigation that was sensed throughout the last quarter or so of the book. "'I know it was y'all,' said the Eagle. We looked at him silently. He often bluffed. Maybe he was bluffing. 'Don't ever do anything like that again,' he said. 'But, Lord, 'subverting the patriarchal paradigm'-it's like she wrote the speech.' he smiled and closed the door." (Page 210) You can't help but smile when you get to this part in the book because it's so sweet and unexpected of the Eagle and the fact that they pulled it off flawlessly was perfect. You feel a sadness for Alaska not being there to do the prank herself but when it was over and done with you feel a happiness that they did it for her and that was the only reason they did it and they all had a part in it. So I know she forgives me, just as I forgive her. Thomas Edison's last words were: 'It's very beautiful over there.' I don't know where there is, but I believe it's somewhere, and I hope it's beautiful." (Page 221) This is the last paragraph of the book and I felt it was appropriate to put as the last quote. It is part of Pudge's essay final and it goes along with the biggest theme that I got out of the book which is finding a way out of the labyrinth but living in it while you can and getting the best out of it. The author is pretty much saying that living is full of suffering so it is like a labyrinth but you should try to make the best out of it while you're here because it will be beautiful and worth it once you get out of it.


1. An example of direct characterization would be when Miles is describing his two "friends" who show up to show him off to boarding school. He describes them as, "Marie Lawson, a tiny blonde with rectangular glasses, and her chunky (to put it charitably) boyfriend, Will." (Page 4) These two characters aren't in the story very long but the way the author describes them paints a pretty clear picture in my head. Another example would be when he first meets his soon-to-be "best friend" Chip, nickname The Colonel. He describes him as, "...I saw a short, muscular guy with a shock of brown hair... He stood five feet and nothing, but was well-built, like a scale model of Adonis... 'I'm Chip Martin,' he announced in a deep voice, the voice of a radio deejay." (Page 9) It is quite clear how the author portrayed Chip, especially when he says that he is like a scale model of Adonis. An example of indirect characterization would be around the same part as the last quote when he is speaking with Chip. "As soon as he finished 'unpacking,' Chip hit me roughly on the shoulder, said, 'I hope you're stronger than you look,' and walked out the door, leaving it open behind him. He peeked his head back in a few seconds later and saw me standing still. 'Well, come on, Miles To Go Halter. We got shit to do.'" (Page 12) Just this part near the beginning of the book sets in stone that Chip is comical and very much a boy when it comes to rough housing and expecting people to understand what he wants them to do without saying it. A second example of indirect characterization would be when Pudge is talking to Alaska about the labyrinth. "'Suffering,' she said. 'Doing wrong and having wrong things happen to you. That's the problem. Bolívar was talking about the pain, not about the living or dying. How do you get out of the labyrinth of suffering?'" (Page 82) Alaska is big into books and in her favorite one it talks about getting out of the labyrinth and what the labyrinth is exactly. Her take on it is that the labyrinth is suffering and that life is suffering so you must find a way to not suffer while you're here. This part really shows how deep she is and how much she thinks about life even though on the outside she is a trouble making rebel and a prankster.

2. The author's syntax or diction doesn't really change when he talks about the characters. They stay the same throughout the whole story. I think this is okay though because he describes characters very well.

3. The protagonist is very much dynamic. Pudge is this sort of loner who doesn't have any friends and focuses on school work and reading people's last words at the beginning of the story and quickly changes once at boarding school. I think it starts when he meets the Colonel and goes to see Alaska for cigarettes. The first time he smokes is the first time he does something that he has never done before and never thought he would do. From then on he is doing things he never would have done before like participating in pranks, getting drunk, and staying at the boarding school on holidays even though his parents wanted him home. He does all of this while still holding onto his old self by trying to keep up with school work until Alaska's death.

4. I very much felt like I had met someone after finishing this book. I felt that I would do the same things that Pudge had done in certain situations but he was different because he acted in his own way that I wouldn't have sometimes. I could see why he felt like he did at certain parts like after Alaska died and he was frustrated for letting her go. "I kicked off my comforter and, my fist balled, smashed my hand against the wall with each syllable as I said, 'I! DON'T! KNOW! And you know what, it doesn't matter. She's dead. Is the brilliant Colonel going to figure out something that's gonna make her less freaking dead?'" (Page 160) This quote really shows his frustrations with Alaska dying and how he takes it out on other people. I would do the same thing if the girl I love died.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Welcome to the Interdisciplinarity


With A Little Help From My Friends

As I progress in what it is I want to do I have to find out what resources I have. A big one is the internet which is what I will use the most as will most likely everyone else. There are probably many books that I have yet to discover that will also make good resources. By using these resources I should get a much better understanding of what it is I want to do.

Monday, February 10, 2014


Careers in astronomy:

Space Math @ NASA:

Why would people be interested in the field:

Discovery News App:

National Geographic: Origins of the Universe:

Universe Today:


There are not many things that I find interest in or am intimately passionate about so when asked to choose something I had a hard time. I am interested in things that involve nature such as plants, the human mind, and space but making a career in these things is easier said than done. After several emails and talks with Dr. Preston, I ultimately decided to choose space but more specifically stars, black holes, time, the origins of us, and the Big Bang. I am not a math wiz so just that alone makes it complicated to study these things but I am hoping through using the tools I have this semester I can get on the right track to pursuing this field. In order to have no regrets by June I will have to learn a lot about my topics that I am interested in and figure out what I have to do to get a career in this field. I can impress others by showing what I have learned and doing whatever I can to the best of my ability. To make my idea a reality I will have to work hard to find out what kind of opportunities are available and how I can feel confident about what I want to do. I am not too positive on who will be in my network yet.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

My Vocabulary

neutron star - stellar remnant of the result of the gravitational collapse of a massive star

gravity - the force that attracts a body to any physical body that has mass
Gravity is what keeps you and I from floating away into space

event horizon - a theoretical boundary around a black hole beyond which no light or other radiation can escape
When you get passed the event horizon, your fate is sealed.

worm hole - a hypothetical connection between widely seperated regions of space-time

binary star - a system of two stars that revolve about their common center of mass

collision course - a course of a moving object that will lead to a collision if it continues unchanged

planetary - of, relating to, or belonging to a planet or planets

asteroid - a small rocky body orbiting around the sun

lunar - of, determined by, relating to, or resembling the moon

dwarf star - a star of relatively small size and low luminosity, including the majority of main sequence stars

wavelength - the distance between successive crests of a wave

nebula - a cloud of gas and dust in outer space, visible in the night sky either as an indistinct bright patch or as a dark silhouette against other luminous matter

infrared - having a wavelength just greater

comet - a celestial object consisting of a nucleus of ice and dust and, when near the sun, a "tail" of gas and dust particles pointing away from the sun

galaxy - a system of millions or billions of stars,  together with gas and dust, held together by gravitational attraction

astronomical - extremely large

cosmic - of or relating to the universe or cosmos, esp. as distinct from the earth

Big Bang - the rapid expansion of matter from a state of extremely high density and temperature that according to current cosmological theories marked the origin of the universe

supernova - a star that suddenly increases greatly in brightness because of a catastrophic explosion that ejects most of its mass

infinite - limitless or endless in space, extent, or size; impossible to measure or calculate

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Spring Literary Analysis: #1



1. The book I read is called The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. It is about a 16 year old girl named Hazel Grace who has lung cancer. She's pulled out of schol early because of it (the cancer) but she has her GED. Her parents make her go to support classes because they fear she is depressed. On one of the days she went to the support group she meets a boy named Augustus and they pretty much instantly become friends. Hazel is big into reading and looks at the world in a unique way. The author of her favorite book that she reads over and over is the only person that seems to get her and he doesn't even know she exists. The main conflict in this novel is that she's living with cancer and the boy she loves, Augustus, was cancer free but at the cost of losing his leg. I think the author had many purposes of this book and the narrative fulfilled them. In the book Hazel talks about how certain things are a side effect of dying such as depression and even being heroic and goes on to say that cancer itself is a side effect of living and the human race. I agree with that and it is a sad but true way of looking at things. 

2. The theme of the novel is that the universe wants to be noticed and that we want to be noticed by the universe. Humans are examples of the universe experiencing and noticing itself and cancer is one of the many things the universe does to get noticed. The world wasn't built for us but we were built for the world. Hazel and Augustus and even the author of her favorite book talks about this several times. Even though that's not what the story is about, that is the theme and feel that I got out of it after reading it.

3. The author's tone throughout the story is a mellow kind of sadness that I found unique. "The world is not a wish-granting factory". This quote is said several times in the book and I think it expresses the authors tone nicely. It's sad but also calming in a way knowing that nothing is perfect and you can never have everything you desire. "As his parted lips met mine, I started to feel breathless in a new and fascinating way. The space around us evaporated, and for a weird moment I really liked my body; this cancer-ruined thing I'd spent years dragging around suddenly seemed worth the struggle...". The tone the author was portraying was unique at this point of the book because this is the only time I sensed it and felt different than I did through the rest of the book. As I read it the tone changed and right when the sentence was over I felt it slowly evaporate and it wasn't felt again throughout the whole book. "I could feel everybody watching us, wondering what was wrong with us, and whether it would kill us, and how heroic my mom must be, and everything else." The tone here is pretty much the tone through the whole book. They were at the airport going to Amsterdam and everyone was staring at them and she explained how they must all wonder what's wrong with them and it's something she constantly has to deal with along with the cancer itself. The tone was hopeful because they were going to Amsterdam but also sad because she almost wasn't able to go and the whole time reading it you had an ominous feeling that something bad was going to happen cancelling out the hopefulness. 

4. As I've said before the overall tone of this novel is a unique kind of sad, mellowness but also romantic. "So of course I tensed up when he touched me. To be with him was to hurt him - inevitably... I felt like I was committing an act of violence against him, because I was." (Page 101) This quote from the book is a good example of overall tone of the text and it helped me understand it better. It is sad because she wants to be with him so bad but knows it will only end in sorrow but it is also mellow because she has come to terms with it. John Green, the author, tended to describe things in a way that made sense to me and that I haven't seen before like when he says, "...which made me worry that when I died they'd have nothing to say about me except that I fought heroically, as if the only thing I'd ever done was Have Cancer." (Page 100) I feel like that is so true about everyone who has died who has cancer and no one has admitted it before and it helped me understand one of the author's purposes which is being remembered when you have passed. I felt like the tone changed several times throughout the story but it was mostly sad and mellow but an example of it changing would be, "I nudged my head into his shoulder. "Thanks for offering to come over."' (Page 122) I got a sense of a happy and tranquil tone during this part of the text which is far different from the overall tone. John Green has a way of using a lot of detail to describe what means like most authors but the vocabulary he uses complex but not overwhelming. An example of this would be, "there is no shortage of fault to be found amid our stars". "The weird thing about houses is they almost always look like nothing is happening inside of them, even though they contain most of our lives." This quote may seem like it is just talking about houses and it might be but I think it is also a metaphor for how you can't usually physically see cancer but it dominates the hosts life and it helped me understand that better. The made-up author in the story, Peter Van Houten turns out to be a curmudgeon old man and doesn't do what he says he would for Hazel and Augustus but there's a quote from him that reveals why he was like that, "Writing does not reconstruct. It buries." When he says this he is talking about the daughter he lost to cancer and how the main character of the book he wrote was based off of his daughter and writing that book only made it harder for him, kind of as a "would have been" type scenario. When Hazel shows up to his house dressed like Anna he is somewhat surprised and thrown off by it but also drunk so he was rude about it. The sad tone of the book is emphasized when Hazel says, "You get all these friends just when you don't need them anymore", (Page 266) in regards to Augusts's memorial wall after he passes. She already knows that it will be like that for her when she dies. Throughout this book romantic gestures are made that bring the mood up only to be brought back down again. An example of the cute and romantic tone would be, "I nudged my head into his shoulder. "Thanks for offering to come over.' 'You realize that trying to keep your distance from me will not lessen my affection for you,' he said." (Page 122)


1. One example of direct characterization is when Hazel first sees and meets Augustus. She explains his voice as, "low, smoky, and dead sexy". You could tell by just reading it that she liked him from then on. A second example of direct characterization is when she meets Peter Van Houten, the author of her favorite book, for the first time. She explains him as, "a potbellied man with thin hair, sagging jowls, and a week-old beard". The way she described him painted a perfect picture in my head of what he would look like. An example of indirect characterization is in the same part of the book when Peter Van Houten is being extremely rude to them saying how he didn't literally mean he wanted them to fly to Amsterdam to visit him and he wasn't going to tell them what happened to the characters after the book ended like he said he would. It shows that he just a curmudgeon and very rude man without actually saying it. Another example would be Patrick, the support group leader. Every meeting he would talk about how he had testicular cancer and how he was ball-less now and how hard it is for him and it showed that he was repetitive and tiresome even though he had good intentions. The author uses both to describe characters as a way for the reader to create their own understanding of how the characters were without actually saying it but at the same time explaining what they looked like to put a clear picture in the readers mind. It left an impression on me for some of the characters like Augustus who I can picture clearly and I understand how he would act and react and think if he were a real person. It didn't leave a lasting impression for all of the characters but the main ones it did for sure.

2. The authors syntax and diction changes when he talks about characters like Augustus and Peter. The vocabulary becomes a bit more complex and sentences start to be more metaphoric because that's how the characters are. On the same spectrum the vocabulary and sentence structure becomes more simple when he talks about the parents of Augustus and Hazel and characters that don't show up as much like their friend Issac.

3. The protagonist in this story is cancer itself. There isn't a person that the characters have to deal with it is the thing they have to live with and deal with. That being said the protagonist is mostly static but also dynamic. The cancer is in both of the main characters but Hazel has it and Augustus was cancer free for months and later found out the cancer had spread all throughout his body. The cancer symbolizes change and how fast it can occur and alter the way people think. Hazel and Augustus talk about how cancer is a side effect of dying and they are not glad that they have it or had it but they've come to accept that there is virtually nothing they can do about it. Augustus lost his previous girlfriend to brain cancer and (spoiler) Hazel loses Augustus to his cancer. Both of their lives are drastically changed by something that doesn't change throughout the whole book.

4. After finishing the book I strongly feel like I knew the characters. More Hazel than Augustus because sometimes I felt like I was reading a character when it was about Augustus. I really feel like I met and knew Hazel throughout the whole book and it was probably because I could relate to how she looked at the world and I could see what she meant even when I didn't think that way sometimes. For example when she says, "I  nodded. I was crying. I couldn't get over how happy I was, crying genuine tears of actual happiness for the first time in maybe forever, imagining my mom as Patrick. It made me think of Anna's mom. She would have made a good social worker, too." (Page 298) Her thinking that made me think about what I would do in a situation like that and I also would relate it to a book I had read or a TV show I had seen, which Anna and her mother are characters in her favorite book that she was referencing.