I just completed my freshmen year at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, working towards a dual B.S. in physics and mathematics. I'm a Long Island native, having graduated from Harborfields High School in Greenlawn, living at home for the summer while commuting everyday to work at the Laser Teaching Center. At RPI, I'm involved in the Society for Physics Students, Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, Airsoft club, and Ski club. In high school, I was heavily involved in the Science Research program for all four years, which is where I developed my passion for experimentalism. Also in my spare time I enjoy exercising, the outdoors, boating, and traveling. I've traveled to various places in Canada, England, Italy, Hong Kong, and China. Usually in the summertime I travel to China for one month to visit family and relatives. This year I was there for two weeks before starting here at the Laser Teaching Center in early June.
I became interested in physics in my junior year of high school, when I decided to take a less popular route by enrolling in Advanced Placement Physics. Most other students in my high school often elect to take Advanced Placement Biology or Chemistry in their junior year, while saving Advanced Placement Physics for their senior year. I can't imagine where I'd be if I hadn't decided to go the less popular route because I wouldn't have known that I enjoyed physics until after I had completed the course in my senior year. Physics was by far my favorite science course in high school. I had a great teacher, a Stony Brook alumnus, who made each and every day of class enjoyable. He often posed thought experiments to the class, which would leave me pondering for days until he presented demonstrations that would illustrate the underlying physical phenomena of the thought experiments. One of the first such thought experiments posed the question: If a bullet was fired from a gun held perfectly level with the ground and another bullet of equal mass was dropped from the same height as the gun at the same moment the gun was fired, which bullet would hit the ground first? It turns out that this was a trick question because both bullets would hit the ground at the same time since the only downward force acting on each bullet is gravity. Of course, the curvature of the Earth and air resistance can create a slight difference in the time it takes for each bullet to hit the ground, but if those factors are assumed to be negligible then both bullets would hit the ground at exactly the same time. As a demonstration, my teacher used a PVC pipe laying on a level table that was sealed on one end and connected it to a mini air compressor, which would be used as the propellant to fire a small rubber ball. The compressor switch was wired to a claw that held an identical rubber ball in midair at the same height as the PVC pipe. When the switch was released, all the air from the compressor would rapidly release, thereby forcing the rubber ball out of the PVC pipe at the same instant as the claw would release the other rubber ball from the same height. Using just the naked eye, both rubber balls appeared to hit the ground at the same time, just as predicted in theory. Moments like these were what inspired my interest in physics, the subject that can explain the most fundamental characteristics of nature.
I've only studied optics in that high school course as well as my Honors Physics II course at RPI, so I still have much to learn. Of all the topics in physics that I've studied, I've found optics to be the most interesting because it involves studying the many forms of light. This summer, I hope to work on a project in the area of holography in order to better understand an area of optics that I have yet to learn about in my studies.