Category Archives: Side Projects

Learning By Doing

As the sunlight filters in through the bright blue window, another lazy weekend travels past. Once again I am considering the homework requests from various classes, and neatly writing lists. At the same time, it’s quite a productive morning and the rate of incoming tasks is less than the rate of outgoing tasks.

The homework requests are fun and interesting, mostly because they are not complete. When I actually begin to work on the task is really only a small component of the process which is to learn how by doing how. The titles or names of the tasks are quite massive. Things which take up entire bookcases. Over 800 books of material!

Instead of working, I begin to learn how to work. Quickly traversing the web, finding software, viewing neat slices of training video, configuring environments and planning a line of attack. Behind my work lies a neat Lab Journal, just like the type kept in the thousands of other research labs. The journal is my list of doings.

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Atlas Sailed is a start-up I have been working on for the past few months now. My cofounder and I just entered it in techstars NY 2014.

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Completing my B.S. in Physics

I approach projects with the goal of successful completion. I knew when I began pursing my degree it would require complete devotion and single minded focus on that one subject. Since completing my undergraduate coursework in December I have begun to step back and look at my overall knowledge acquisition. I am pleased with the strong foundation in math, programming, electronics and (of course) physics I acquired. Now I can’t help but look back and realize how much more there is to learn.

I reflect on why I feel so driven to acquire knowledge. What do I need this for after all? It always returns to curiosity. I enjoy that word. When I ask myself “Why did you do this?” time and again the answer is I was curious. Curiosity is how I end up climbing to high points. Quite literally. I climb to the top of boulders because I enjoy the view of the surrounding landscape. I am simply curious. What am I going to do with what I’ve learned? I don’t know exactly. Anything. That’s why learning is so exciting to me. I could do anything. The more I learn the more I can do.

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Annet – In Progress

Data Visualization tool for neural network project. Created using Processing.



Creating a stable and precisely tunable single-frequency laser. Summer 2011-Fall 2011 Stonybrook Laser Teaching Center





The Quantum Eraser, demonstrating quantum effects using polarization of light. Spring 2010 Stonybrook Laser Teaching Center




iPhone game design. Based on RGB additive color theory and the geometry of hexagons. February 2010





Flash ActionScript 3 design booklet. Fall 2010





Co-op advertising group. A long time ago.



Jewelry business. A long long time ago.

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Stepper Motor

Some of the links I read while hooking up the motor:

Motor Shield – Frequently Asked Questions

Motor Shield – How to rev up

Stepper Motor – Connect and use a stepper motor with the Make Controller Kit


It is hooked up to M1 and the wire color order from the top is:







Next up, using pwm to achieve continuos motion.

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Hello World!

The java IDE used at Stonybrook is installed on my computer, and I just wrote "Hello World!"

The book I’m reading on learning java has a suggested program of calculating what change to return, in quarters, dimes, nickles and pennies. I’ll probably write that next.

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Poincare Sphere

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3rd Semester Review & Summer REU plans

So it is the end of my third semester at Stonybrook. I am now technically a junior. I have four semesters remaining at college.  I will complete a summer of REU work at Stony Brook and then next summer, hopefully REU somewhere else.

The semester I just completed consisted of Chemistry, Waves and Optics, Differential equations and independent study of a book I wanted to read, Quantum Information and Quantum Computation. I learned quite a lot about math this semester. I realized that I had a weakness when it came to integration. To fix this I intend to read a few books on methods of integration and to create some flashcards to help recognize what technique to use. I was still enjoying math quite a lot and the differential equations where fun to solve. I liked using linear algebra with calculus too.

I liked Chemistry but I’m a little worried that my grade will be lower than I expected because right at the end I needed to memorize a whole bunch of amino acids and their names and structures, and I didn’t have it solidified for the test and my final grade is going to not be as high as I wanted. This is a question of taking risks though. I could have not taken chemistry. I could not take several of the courses I have chosen to take. I would rather take the risk of a low grade and learn what I can about a subject instead of avoiding it completely. I should have made more flashcards and known what molecular structure was an essential amino acid.

Waves and Optics, I finally learned how to arrive at conclusions and ‘build’ the formula I need based on physical observations. In particular the lab we did on Gaussian laser beams was at first quite confusing because the formulas we are given seem to have so many unknowns, but as I worked through the lab and set my data up to analyze it, the variables began to make sense. I could always look at the intensity distribution of the laser beam at some point along its direction and see the expression of the formula for the Gaussian beam.

Now my thoughts turn to the summer REU project at Stony Brook. What do I want to work on? I wrote a final paper for Waves and Optics on machine vision, and this seems like an ideal inspiration for a summer project. There are different things to do though. I was initially thinking of training a remote control car to follow me around, and navigate it’s way through obstacles. This seems like less of a computer vision project though and everything I was to do with it could easily be accomplished by hacking the Kinect. Then I thought to move on to how a computer sees an image. Maybe work on a sort of image search, that might be a “Where’s Waldo” finder. So it would look through a bunch of images and find the guy in the red and white striped shirt wearing a red and white hat. But that seems like it might be to far removed from physics. I want to do something with phase shift, which is where a little tracking robot sounds like a fun project. I like the idea of learning more about computer vision algorithms because eventually I want to return to quantum computing and quantum information, and I thought a brief pause to learn more about algorithms would be useful. Also, I’m taking an electronics course next semester and I’d rather have that knowledge before continuing to study quantum computers. Ofcourse I’ll still reads books on QI and QC but I won’t be doing a specific project for them.

So, for the summer I want to do:

Computer Vision algorithms

Study phase shift

Maybe a program to predict how slippery a surface is going to be? I’m not sure how phase shift fits into this problem, but this would be some interesting optics and mechanics. So what I would want to do is judge a surface, based on the texture.

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How does a laser diode work?

I was looking at the Helium Neon laser at the LTC today, and wondering how a laser diode like the ones in a laser pointer works, since it must be so much smaller and I doubt it contains a tube of gas.

What makes laser light special is that the light is a coherent stream of photons. There are various types of devices that are used to produce laser light. Some types of lasers are: ruby laser, chemical laser, dye laser, gas laser, and rare-earth solid-state laser. All of these lasers work by exciting atoms to a higher state, so more atoms are in the higher state than the lower one. This is called an inverted population of atoms. The reason the population needs to be inverted is so that emission of photons will be dominant, instead of absorption.

The second important feature is that the higher state must be metastable, meaning the electrons remain excited for longer than usual so the transition to the lower state happens because of stimulated emission. Stimulated emission is the process of a photon of energy equal to an excited atom striking the excited atom, causing it to transition to the lower state and emit a second photon of the same frequency. This process gives two photons in exactly the same phase and moving in the same direction.

Cd players and laser pointers use semiconductor diode lasers. These lasers work by layering two materials, one on top of the other.  One of the materials is an n-type semiconductor. An example is an arsenic-doped silicon crystal, where negatively charged electrons carry the current. The other material is a p-type semiconductor, which  is populated with net positive gaps. Overall through both n and p type semiconductors have no net charge.

Because of the energy difference between the n and p layers there is an inverted population of atoms.  This means an electron can jump down causing a photon to be emitted, which in turn stimulates another electron to transition to a lower energy level and emit a photon, causing stimulated emission. The two materials form the laser diode. I’m not sure how the beam emerges, and will look for books on this at the LTC .

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Maxwells Equations

Maxwells equations are four laws used to understand electromagnetism.

Gauss’s law for electricity:
A generalized form of Coulomb’s law relating electric field to its sources, electric charges

Gauss’s law for magnetism: The same for the magnetic field, except that if there are no magnetic monopoles, magnetic fields likes are continuous, they do not begin or end.

Faraday’s Law: An electric field is produced by a changing magnetic field

Ampere’s Law:  A magnetic field is produced by an electric current or by a changing electric field.

Electromagnetic waves are produced by changing electric charges.

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