I started the morning by writing about 500 words before joining my fellow attendees for breakfast at a local diner, where the food was good and the conversation mainly focused on picking apart the scientific inaccuracies of Pacific Rim. Then, off to a full day of classes.
The instructors here are good at cramming a lot of material into each day. In the morning session, we covered the electromagnetic spectrum and everything on it. I had a vague understanding before of how light works, but now it's much better. There's still plenty to learn, though. A few interesting tidbits that I didn't know:
- Our atmosphere allows only the radio spectrum and visible light to the surface, along with a little bit of ultraviolet and infrared.
- Some birds and insects can see ultraviolet light, and some flowers have UV markings that create a "landing pad" for pollen-collecting insects.
- Chicken-wire fencing blocks radio signals.
In the afternoon, we did some lab work with the electromagnetic spectrum, examining the various spectrums made by certain elements. After that, it was a lecture on gravity and motion, and then the first of a few talks we'll have this week about the science that science-fiction writers get wrong. I will admit that my Daily Science Fiction story contains one of the errors discussed today, but I won't tell you which one. Ha.
After dinner, we trudged up to the roof of the university's physical sciences building for some star-gazing and telescope-gazing. I have not seen such a starry sky since I was a kid at Girl Scout camp. Beautiful. A few highlights: Saturn with its rings and four brightest moons; two nebulas; a globular cluster, and the Andromeda galaxy. For the first time in my life, I also saw the constellation Scorpio, which is my zodiac sign.
A great end to the day.