• John
  • Felde
  • University of Maryland
  • USA

Latest Posts

  • USLHC
  • USLHC
  • USA

  • James
  • Doherty
  • Open University
  • United Kingdom

Latest Posts

  • Andrea
  • Signori
  • Nikhef
  • Netherlands

Latest Posts

  • CERN
  • Geneva
  • Switzerland

Latest Posts

  • Aidan
  • Randle-Conde
  • Université Libre de Bruxelles
  • Belgium

Latest Posts

  • TRIUMF
  • Vancouver, BC
  • Canada

Latest Posts

  • Laura
  • Gladstone
  • MIT
  • USA

Latest Posts

  • Steven
  • Goldfarb
  • University of Michigan

Latest Posts

  • Fermilab
  • Batavia, IL
  • USA

Latest Posts

  • Seth
  • Zenz
  • Imperial College London
  • UK

Latest Posts

  • Nhan
  • Tran
  • Fermilab
  • USA

Latest Posts

  • Alex
  • Millar
  • University of Melbourne
  • Australia

Latest Posts

  • Ken
  • Bloom
  • USLHC
  • USA

Latest Posts

Seth Zenz | Imperial College London | UK

View Blog | Read Bio

Graduation Day

Seth's sister, Sarah, after MIT's 2008 graduationI have been in Boston this week for my sister’s graduation. Today my family and I braved rain, cold, a number of speeches, and the reading of well over a thousand graduates’ names in order to see her receive her diploma from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Her degree is in physics, which just so happens to be the same as mine, but she is a very different sort of physicist than I am: the kind who actually knows how to apply her knowledge directly to practical projects. She just finished a B.A. thesis on amplitude and phase modulation of lasers for LIGO. Her next project is working with a classmate on designing a low-cost Nuclear Magnetic Resonance machine. Currently the cheapest NMR machines cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, and their idea is to build a prototype machine, made from off-the-shelf components that can be purchased within a modest MIT summer grant. Then they will write up public-domain instructions, and provide public-domain software, so that others can do the same thing, with the eventual goal of making it possible for high school labs (and others with limited budgets) to study NMR.

This kind of ability, to tinker and build a working copy of something from scratch, which MIT seems to impart to its students rather effectively, always leaves me mystified and more than a little jealous. It is very different from the specialized and often-abstract work that goes into a particle physics collaboration, and part of me wishes I had the time and energy to teach myself the relevant skills. But I suppose it’s better for my sister and me to have slightly different interests at least.

Needless to say, I am very, very proud.

Share

Tags: ,