Wednesday, August 10, 2016

August 10

Since today was a Wednesday, there was another talk for us to attend at lunch time. The lunch talks were originally schedules for the REU students, so Bob had to find a speaker for us. Roger Eaton, one of the lead researches in the Historical Document Restoration group, spoke to us about the many projects he has worked on and is still working on. These included the Archimedes Palimpsest, Shakespeare's seventh signature, and Picasso collages. His work entails using many different imaging techniques to uncover text that hidden to the eye.

During the rest of the day, I worked on the app and began putting together my presentation. I spent a good chunk of time creating code that causes information boxes to appear when the user first merges with each type of galaxy. These information boxes will contain explanations for how the specific type of merger will affect the user galaxy and will have a link to a website that describes the process in more detail. The purpose of these boxes in to provide immediate educational feedback to actions of the user within the game. This way, the user is learning about astronomy while playing the game. Also, I added a gas accretion slider to the game, so now the user can change the gas accretion rate of the user galaxy. This slider, along with the time acceleration slider, will allow the user to change their galaxy a lot without having to merge or interact with other galaxies all the time.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

August 9

Today I simply continued to work on finishing my list of programming task to be done by Friday. First, set up a new notification (a tool used in Swift), so now the galaxy property labels are updated when the user galaxy merges with another galaxy. I also met with Dr. Kartaltepe at 8:00 in the morning over Skype because she is still at a conference. We went over my outline again and I asked her some questions about the galaxy types she sent me yesterday. She also sent me the original proposal for the app development project which will be very helpful in creating my presentation. The proposal clearly explains what the purpose of the app should be and why we want to make it, both of which are topics I am going to cover at the beginning of my presentation. Later, I added a time acceleration slider to the game which allows users to change how quickly time moves along in the game. Now there are only a few more coding tasks for me to complete before Friday.

Monday, August 8, 2016

The start of the last full week!

The last full week has begun! This means it is officially crunch time. My final presentation is next Wednesday morning, but all the interns have to have their presentations ready by Friday because we are doing a dry run of all the presentations on Friday afternoon. Today I came up with a list of all the programming ideas that I would like to implement into the app by Friday, and which ones I want to implement by next Wednesday. I spent all day working on this list, taking a very short lunch break.

One of the major accomplishments of the day was finding many beautiful images of galaxies from the Hubble website and putting them into the gallery. Now the gallery is much larger and it essentially ready for the presentation. Many of the images may not be used in the final app, but they are good for getting the point of the gallery across to the presentation audience. Furthermore, Dr. Kartaltepe gave me some data regarding the three major types of galaxies in the app. I changed my code to incorporate these types, which was very simple because I have designed the code to be easily changed and built upon. Lastly, I finished the function that determines the types of the other galaxies that spawn in. Now, the probability of a certain type of galaxy spawning in changes as the universe ages. Once we have the actual numbers, we just need to replace the placeholder values with them.

Friday, August 5, 2016

August 5

Today was not a typical Friday. For the first time ever, we did not have our morning meeting at 8:45 because today was the undergraduate research symposium. Several interns and I got here early, around 8:00, and went to the free continental breakfast that was held at the start of the symposium. For lunch, we all attended the keynote speech and enjoyed our complimentary sandwiches, cookies, and fruit. Although there were many talks and poster presentations available for me to attend throughout the day, since I was very busy with the app and abstract, I only attended the lunch talk.

I completed my abstract and came up with my title, which is "Reaching Out to the Public with an iPhone App". I sent them both to Dr. Kartaltepe so I she could give me some feedback. After implementing her tips into the abstract, I sent it off to Mr. Callens. Today, I also added over ten links to the RIT information table so now there are a lot more websites for users to check out. For the app, I fixed a bug that was causing all the other galaxies to spawn in the corners of the screen. Now they spawn in random locations just outside the visible screen. Additionally, I tried to fix the pause button so that the user galaxy does not jump forward after pressing resume. I thought I figured it out, but it still does not work, so I will have to keep working on it over the weekend.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

August 4

Today was Thursday, which usually would have meant that all the interns would go to Global Village to grab lunch. However, most of us were very busy so we ended up staying in the Reading Room and watch the Dark Knight for half an hour while eating.

The rest of the day was just an average work day. Tomorrow everyone's revised abstract and titles are due, so this morning I look over my abstract and made many changes to it. It is much shorter now and does not have any fluff. Tomorrow I will come up with my title. Regarding the app, today I linked the collision of sprites in the game to the merger function in the Galaxy class. Now, when the user collides with other galaxies, the galaxies merge and the user galaxy's properties change. I also added another table view controller that will have links to websites on it. This one will have to do with providing information about RIT and the other contributors to the project.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

August 3

Today was probably the most packed day of the internship so far. To be honest, in the morning I had forgotten about most of the things I had to do today, so I was not at all expecting today to be so hectic. First, right after our morning meeting, all the interns and Bob walked to the RIT library where we met with a librarian in the bibliography lab. There, she taught us about how to find good databases for research papers and how to best use them. Unfortunately, because of the nature of my project, the databases that were available at the library did not have anything that fit my needs. I usually just use a website called StackOverflow to find answers to my programming questions. On this website, programmers post questions and samples of their code, and then others in the programming community post their answers.

After the trip to the library, I had only about an hour and a half of time to work on the app before lunch. I decided to spend the time trying to create code that will call the merge function when the user galaxy collides with another galaxy within the game. I realized that I will have to create something called a "Dictionary". A Dictionary is a swift tool that can be used to store an object as well as an associated property. This will be necessary in order to complete my task.

Later, after stuffing myself with pizza and soda, the other interns and I attended the lunch talk of the week. This week, the speaker was from the Remote Sensing lab, so it was the first time we listened to a speaker from that lab. He talked to us about the strange, unusual properties of Lake Kivu in Africa. Incredibly, there is 20 billion dollars worth of natural gas stored at the bottom of the lake. The gas is dangerous though because if the right geological conditions are met, a lot of carbon dioxide and methane could rush to the top of the lake and suffocate the surrounding urban areas.

In the afternoon, I continued my work on the Dictionary until 3:30 when I went up to the Reading Room to get ready to watch the Dark Knight with the rest of the interns. We brought popcorn and had some sodas left over from the lunch talk. I had bought the movie on my laptop, so I connected my laptop to a projector Bob loaned us. The movie was extremely good, and Heath Ledger did an incredible job as the Joker. We did not finish the movie though because it is so long, so we will have to keep watching it another day.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Bring a Friend to Work Day!

I was not able to find a friend that was available to come to "Bring a Friend to Work" day. Fortunately, most of the other interns were able to, so today was much livelier than usual. Maria brought three sibling, Madi and Allyse brought friends from school, Zihao brought two friends who actually did this internship last summer, Cece brought her younger brother, and Emily brought her younger sister. After meeting in the reading room, we all went upstairs to Bob's room to peer review our outlines. I don't know why, but waiting to get my outline peer reviewed was one of the most nerve-racking experiences of my life. However, everyone seemed to think my outline was very good and details. The main concern about it was that it may be too long (which I worried about), so I will have to condense it. Also, Mr. Pow told me to test that my embedded video demo of the app will run properly on his computer ahead of time so that there are no surprises on the day of the presentation.

After the peer review, I went to do some work on the app. Dr. Kartaltepe emailed me and said that she is trying to get me the data I need as soon as possible. Until then, I will work on fixing any bugs and on developing the user interface as much as I can.

At 11:30, the interns and their guests all went to Salsarita's with Bob. He treated us to lunch which was very kind. I got a burrito bowl for the first time, and I think I like them better than burritos and quesadillas, mainly because they are easier to eat. When we got back to the center, we all stayed outside to play some volleyball and frisbee. For the first time, the volleyball game had points that lasted more than a few seconds thanks to the fact that we had twice as many people to cover the court.

In the afternoon, we all gathered in the reading room to relax a bit and cool down from the heat. Some of us started drawing pictures of famous people on the whiteboard which quickly turned into Pictionary. Afterwards, I continued to work on developing the user interface of the app and the gallery. I made it so that there is a text view on the more information box that pops up when the user taps the button "More Information". Now, each image can have custom descriptions.

Monday, August 1, 2016

August 1

The first day of August means that the summer is officially more than half way over, and that there are about two weeks left of this internship. Both of these thoughts sadden me. Anyways, for the first day of the month, this was a very average day. At the morning meeting, Bob reminded us that tomorrow is the "Bring a Friend to Work" day. I will have to see if any of my friends can make it. Unfortunately, most of them have jobs so the outlook is not good. I think tomorrow will still be fun as long as the other interns bring some friends.

After the meeting, I pretty much worked on the app for the rest of the day. Dr. Kartaltepe is at a conference so I will not be able to meet with her for a while. However, she said if I have any questions I should email her, and if needed, we can have a Skype meeting.

Over the weekend, I worked on various aspects of the app. One thing I did was implement a pause and resume capability into the game. It was actually harder to do than I thought it would be because I had to make sure that pressing pause stopped both the function that updates the user galaxy's properties and the function that updates the user galaxy's position based on the user's movement of the phone. Stopping the second function proved to be the more difficult task, and I continued to work on it today. Also, I worked on putting labels on the game screen that displayed the values of the user galaxy's properties. I tried to do this a few weeks ago, but back then I had not set up the model which made the task impossible. Now that I have implemented most of the model, many user interface issues can be fixed.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Final Presentation Outline

Introduction
  • What is the app?
  • Why make the app?
  • Who is the target audience?
  • What is the goal/purpose of the app?

Astrophysics: Key concepts
  • What are the significant properties of galaxies?
  • How are galaxies categorized and classified?
  • Galaxy evolution, formation, and how they change on their own
  • Galaxy merges and interactions
    • Starbursts, star formation rate

Game: User’s Perspective
  • What are the user's objectives?
    • Achievements
    • Image gallery
  • Encounter different galaxies and objects as the universe ages
  • User galaxy evolves on its own and through interactions
  • Merge and interact with other galaxies
    • Information boxes
    • Classification

Embedded video demo (Think about the order of the demo and the game description)

Game: Programming Perspective
  • The Swift programming language
  • Tools: Xcode and Source Tree
  • Game architecture: model, view, controller
  • Challenges:
    • Optimizing the code so it doesn’t keep track of thousands of space objects
    • “Vicinity” and “Neighborhood” algorithms
    • Star formation rate equation (implementing the starburst)
  • Maybe have some documentation to reference throughout this section

Next Steps
  • Implementing more galaxy types and other types of space objects/phenomena?

Friday, July 29, 2016

July 29

Today started out pretty rough. I woke up late, through no fault of my alarm which I slept through, so I was in a rush to get ready. I think I showed, got dressed, packed, and ate faster than I ever had before, so I ended up leaving on time. However, a few miles into the drive to RIT, I realized that in my rush I had forgotten to pack the Kielbasa. I had to hurry back home, pack the meat, and drive back out again. Luckily, I arrived just on time, but it was still too close for comfort.

Before lunch, I spent time enhancing images using STIFF again. I already downloaded all the ".v" files so I was able to make warmer, redder versions of all the color images. Next, I selected an image that had a variety of objects in it and then proceeded to make more than 70 different versions of it. I went through all the parameters in the configuration file, going through a wide range of values for each one, so I could learn exactly what each one did. Then I combined the changes in the parameters to try and get the best result.

At the cookout, although we did not have a massive watermelon to deal with, grilling the Kielbasa and Italian sausages proved to be enough of a challenge. Since I had never made Kielbasa on a grill (I usually just pan fry it), I had to improvise and cut it into large pieces. Ultimately, it turned out alright and everyone agreed that it was quite tasty.

In the afternoon, Dr. Kartaltepe and I met. First, we went over the STIFF images which I had organized into folders named after each parameter. We decided which parameters would be useful in enhancing the images and how to use them together. Next, I showed her some print outs of code that I had created to get her approval on how I was implementing the merge, interact, and starburst functions. We also looked through an article that had a star formation rate formula that was exactly what I needed for my code. Also, Dr. Kartaltepe will hopefully create a chart for me that has all the galaxy and space object types as well as the property ranges for each type.

July 28

For the first time ever, this day did not begin with a morning intern meeting! Instead, we all met up at 9:30 in the lobby before heading onto the bus. I actually arrived at 8:45 so I could do some work. We went to the Eastman Museum, which was not very far away, and began our trip with a 10 o'clock tour of one of the photography exhibits. I got to see one of the Lunar orbiter cameras (although this one did not actually go to space)! The tour of the exhibit was very informative and it made me reconsider my perspective on how photos persuade and affect us.

After the first tour, we were given a private tour of the conservation labs by an assistant conservator. He explained the many techniques and processes that conservators perform in order to maintain the quality of old photos and repair damaged ones. Overall, the trip to the Eastman Museum was very informative and I learned that a lot more work goes into taking care of photos than I thought.

On the way back to RIT, we stopped for lunch at Amiel's. There, I faced the toughest decision of the summer: should I get a large or a jumbo sub? Nathan was set on a jumbo, so I decided it was okay for me to get one since I was not the only one. The sub was very delicious, especially because of the cajun seasoning.

When I got back, I started to work on a function to make the user galaxy evolve on its own without merging or interacting with other galaxies or objects. Its properties change on its own because when stars form, they use up gas. Therefore, the gas mass decreases while the stellar mass increases. The star formation rate is dependent of the gas mass, so as the gas mass decreases the star formation rate also decreases. I worked on implementing a function that took all of this into account. Tomorrow, I will meet with Dr. Kartaltepe so I can ask her questions regarding what values are appropriate for the galaxy properties and what all the galaxy categories are.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

July 27

Today began with the usual morning meeting where we did a final recap of the plan for tomorrow's field trip. We also got our flash drive wristbands after a few weeks of waiting. It has only 4 Gb of storage, less than my 16 Gb one, but who doesn't want another flash drive.

This morning I had some catching up to do. I had to finish yesterday's blog and do some coding that I wanted to to last night. Unfortunately, the third season of Agents of Shield is now on Netflix so I found myself immersed in the Marvel Cinematic Universe instead of Xcode. I continued to work on the interactWithGalaxy function in the model. Once I find out what all the categories of galaxies are and what the property ranges are for each category, I will be nearly finished with the model. I think the next steps should be to finish up the gallery and learn more pages of the app.

The pizza at lunch talk was good as usual, and so was the talk. The talk was about how humans look at points of interests when observing things, and the professors work was to try and understand why and how people do so. There are clearly many applications of this work, and I think the work is similar to what Nate, Maria, and Alice are studying.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

July 26

For the first time, I was the last one to arrive for the morning meeting. My dad made it quite clear that he did not want me waking up past 7:15 again. I was still on time though, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that Bob brought us donuts again. Joe Pow was also there, so each of the interns gave a brief summary of what they had recently been working on. We then talked about the plan for Thursday's field trip.

Afterwards, I continued my work on the model of the app and played around with the stiff configuration file for a bit. I have begun to implement an "interact" function in addition to the "merge" function I have already made. This will allow the user to interact with other galaxies, changing the user galaxy properties to a lesser degree than if the galaxies merged. Also, I decided to try downloading the "experiment" images but in a new wavelength. I used the images of the new wavelength instead of the images I had been using for the blue wavelength. Now, the color images are much less pink and the galaxies have a warm red glow. The images look much more similar to other images of space I have seen.

At lunch, we debated whether or not to play Trivial Pursuit again. I pointed out that we really didn't know a thing about the 90's, so playing again probably would not be the most fun thing to do. Instead, we ended up debating about which Pokemon movie was best and we watched several Youtube videos on the topic.

In the afternoon, I met with Dr. Kartaltepe so I could have some of my questions answered. The meeting was very productive and helpful. I found out that the way I was currently creating all the non-user galaxies was actually not what she had in mind, but luckily, I had previously created code that did what she wanted. Also, I came up with a way to allow the user to chose between interacting with, merging with, or avoiding other galaxies while keeping gameplay smooth.

Monday, July 25, 2016

July 25

The end of July is already fast approaching. This means I only have three and a half weeks left to work on my final presentation. Although this fact is quite frightening, I think the pressure that it places on me will help me focus on my work in the upcoming weeks.

This morning, Bob explained in a little more detail what the plan for Thursday is. We will meet in the lobby of the CIS building at 9:30 before we head over to the Eastman Museum for our 10 o'clock tour. As I said last week, since we are stopping to eat lunch at Amiel's, we will not go to Crossroads this week (so sad).

For the rest of the day, I spent my time working on the model of the app. Currently, my main task is to obtain galaxy property data such as star formation rate, stellar mass, total mass, and gas level so that I can create a proper classification system for the galaxies. Once I set guidelines for each galaxy type, the merge function will essentially be complete. All that will remain is making regression formulas for me to use to calculate what the values of the star formation rate (and some other properties) will be after a merge. I am going to meet with Dr. Kartaltepe tomorrow afternoon because she is away on a trip today. I hope she can give me the data I need and answer some more questions I have.

Lunch was an embarrassing event for all the interns. Mady and Maria wanted us all to do something more engaging and active than what we usually do at lunch (sit around with our phones out). We decided to play a board game and selected trivial pursuit. How innocent we were, thinking that we were smart enough to succeed at the game. Little did we know that the game was in fact 90's Trivial Pursuit, so we were actually clueless. After the first round, my dream of starting a competitive team was already crushed.

Friday, July 22, 2016

July 22

Another Friday, another cookout. Today we were met with surprise at the morning meeting when Zihao arrived carrying what was without a doubt the largest, most colossal watermelon I have ever seen in my life. He described it as weighing 20 tons, and I could almost believe him (it was closer to 20 pounds which is still quite hefty). Bob spoke to us about the field trip next week and reminded us that our outlines are due a week from today.

Today, I also continued work on the model of the app. In the programming world, code for apps is generally broken down into two or three categories. Basically, there is the code that deals with the user interface of the app, and there is code that deals with handling data. The code that handles data and does not deal with the user interface is called the model. For this app, the model includes classes whose objects represent galaxies and universes. Today I worked on developing the model that deals with merges between galaxies. I have to write a function that will merge two galaxy objects and change their properties accordingly.

At lunch, Nathan and I grilled the best burgers that Walmart has to offer. They turned out very nicely except for one that slipped between the grate and fell in the coals. Nathan wanted to eat it anyways but we all insisted that doing so would not be the best for his health. Zihao and I struggled to find a knife suitable for cutting his massive watermelon, ultimately deciding to use a simple plastic knife. The knife worked out okay until it snapped in my hands. Luckily, Cecilia remembered that she had a swiss army knife. Mady then insisted that she try cutting the watermelon, which, having been fed up with the hard fruit, I was fine with. Volleyball today was more difficult than usual considering only Nathan, Zihao, and I played. Emily was present on the court but only to watch while she sipped Minute Maid.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

July 21

Nothing particularly unusual happened today. I am inclined to agree with Emily that it is sometimes difficult to find inspiration for our blogs. During today's morning meeting, the topic of discussion was "what was the worst thing that happened at your school this year?" To be honest, I was quite stumped by the question because nothing especially bad happened at our school, and after hearing some of the other intern's stories, anything I could come up with felt utterly inadequate.

After the meeting, I met with Dr. Kartaltepe to go over some more questions I had. First, we went over the 20 tiff images I had created using STIFF and the configuration file. Some of the images had turned out very nicely, but others were very red. We looked through the documentation to see if there were some more functions that we could add to the configuration file to fix the problem, but we could not find any. I will have to continue adjusting the values in the file until the images come out better. Then, we discussed questions I had regarding the app and the decision tree Dr. Kartaltepe had sent me earlier that week. One of my main questions was how the gas level of the user galaxy should be determined. I learned that the gas level percentage is calculated by looking at how much of the galaxy's total mass is gas.

For lunch today the interns and I carried out our tradition of going to Global Village every Thursday. We tried to go to Crossroads again, but unfortunately they were still closed. Next week we are going on a field trip on Thursday so Crossroads will have to wait another two weeks. Instead, we decided to head over to the Student Alumni Union which had one of the best burgers I have had in a long time (not better than the ones the Nathan and I have grilled at the cookouts of course).

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

July 20

It is incredible that two weeks have passed since I began this internship. I am already two thirds of the way through! This is quite terrifying because it means I only have four weeks before my final presentation. Hopefully I will have developed a decent app by then so I will be able to give a good demo.

This morning, I spent most of my time working on creating high quality, color images out of the new fits images that Dr. Kartaltepe put on Google Drive for me. Now that I understand how to use the configuration file, I am pretty good at manipulating the values in the file such as color saturation, minimum level, maximum level, and gamma type. By adjusting these values, I can increase the quality of the final color images to make galaxies stand out. I worked on just one image until I made it the best quality I could, and then used its configuration values on the other 20 images. They all turned out very well, but I could see that each individual image requires its own unique adjustments to the configuration file in order to produce the highest quality version of that image.

Today was the weekly lunch lecture, so at 11:30 I went upstairs to eat the free pizza with the rest of the interns. Unfortunately, someone snagged the last grape Fanta before I could grab it. They should really have more than just two cans of the best flavor soda!

The talk was giving by Christopher Kanan, a professor working on visual machine learning and visual question answering. He told us about previous projects he had been working on and the problems that he has faced. A large part of his work revolves around visual question answering (VQA), which is essentially when a computer looks at an image and answers questions about it. The primary issue he faces regarding this work is that when the computer gets the answer wrong, it is very difficult to determine what processes the computer went through to come to its answer. This makes it hard to know what to fix.

In the afternoon, I spent time developing a new programming class representing an individual galaxy. Each galaxy object has total mass, black hole mass, star formation rate, stellar mass, and gas level instance variables. Since I have figured out how to detect collisions between galaxies in the game, now I can work on changing the values of the instance variables according to the type of collision.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

July 19

I finally remembered to bring in my permission slip today to participate in Alice, Maria, and Nate's visual perception experiment. I was starting to get embarrassed about forgetting it because everyone else had gotten the slip in. Anyways, I participated in the experiment first thing in the morning after the regular intern meeting. Unexpectedly, the experiment required me to view many different pieces of art. Going into this internship, I never thought my art observing skills were going to be tested! The art was from many time periods and was of many styles, from cubism to classical, so I found it very interesting. However, it felt strange to know that people were going to analyze every one of my eye movements. Nate, Maria, and Alice were very helpful throughout the experiment, always telling me what to do if I didn't know.

There may be a small flaw in the experiment design though. While viewing the art, I think I spent more time looking for details in the painting than I normally would have if I was viewing the painting in a gallery. This is because I knew people were going to study my eye movements, so I thought there might be certain aspects of the painting that I was supposed to notice. These feelings are inevitable, so Nate, Maria, and Alice may have to just take them into account when analyzing the results of the experiment.

For the rest of the day, I worked on the app. I was finally able to figure out how to loop the moving star animation on the menu screen. Now it truly looks like there are hundreds are stars moving across the screen from top to bottom. In a way, it resembles what characters in Star Trek The Next Generation see when they look at space while moving at warp speed. I was also able to finish the code to detect collisions between objects in the game. Now, I can start to work on implementing the rules of the game regarding what happens to the user galaxy when it collides (merges) with different types of galaxies.

At the end of the day, several interns and I attended the entrepreneurship lecture by Roger Dube. This week, he discussed how to give science talks to non-science audiences. This is a very important skill for scientists because they all have to present their work to non-scientists at one point or another. If one is not able to clearly communicate their work to, say, an investor or grant committee, they will have trouble moving forwards in their career. Essentially, when speaking to non-science audiences, one must attempt to engage the audience, make them work, without letting them know it. If they are intrigued by what the speaker is saying and are trying to put two and two together in their heads, then the speaker successfully interested the audience in his or her presentation.

Monday, July 18, 2016

July 18

The morning began a little differently than usual. Instead of meeting in the Reading Room, we went up a floor to Bob's office where we read over everyone's abstracts. There were all extremely good, and each one was met with kind, constructive criticism from the group. There main issue with mine is that it is too long (the longest one) and has too much "fluff". I will have to cut it down and reorganize it.

After the meeting, I worked on putting actual images of galaxies and gas clouds into the game to replace the placeholder images. I also had two goals regarding the table view in the gallery. One was to change the table so that each cell displays its own thumbnail image instead of all the cells showing the same image. The other goal was for a specific image to be displayed on the photo display page when its corresponding cell is tapped. I was successful at making each cell have its own thumbnail image, but I did not completely finish the second goal.

In the afternoon, I met with Dr. Kartaltepe to discuss how to proceed with the app and how to use STIFF configuration files. She showed me that I could save the configuration file in TextEdit and that changes I make to the file in TextEdit are read by STIFF when it is run. This way, I can easily change parameters such as color saturation and gamma values to adjust the outcome of the tiff image that STIFF produces. We then looked at an outline of what the game should ultimately be able to do. I learned that the outcome of the game will be heavily reliant on decisions the user makes throughout the game and that a major part of the game will be the many different types of mergers that can occur.

For the rest of the afternoon, I continued to look over the outline and planned out how to proceed with programming the app. Dr. Kartaltepe also provided me with some images of galaxies that are larger than the ones I have been using. These new images are much better for trying out STIFF because I can see the adjustments I make more easily because the images are not as pixelated.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Abstract

  For centuries, nothing has sparked humanities curiosity more than space. Thanks to relatively recent advances in telescopic and imaging technology, we have made fantastics discoveries such as the expansion of the universe, the nature of galaxies, and black holes. While we continue to study the universe, it is important to reach out to the public. As such, the purpose of this project is to create an app that will interest the public in the work of the astronomical imaging lab and the field of astronomy in general.

  Dr. Kartaltepe’s research focuses on extragalactic space, which is to say space  beyond the Milky Way. Therefore, the app will primarily focus on how galaxies have developed since the “Big Bang” and how they interact with each other. The central piece of the app will be a game. The end goal is for the game to take the user through a simplified version of the life of a galaxy, teaching the user about galaxy traits and interactions along the way. Users will control their own galaxy, moving it through space while encountering molecular clouds, other galaxies, galaxy clusters, black holes, and other objects. In the upcoming weeks, my goal is to program at least the essential mechanics and graphics of the game, as well as implement a points system based upon how long the user’s galaxy survives and how much it interacts with different objects. This system, combined with hazards and time pressure also within the game, will hopefully create high replay value.

  In the upcoming weeks, I would also like to put a gallery containing images and simulations of galaxies used in the game as well as extra images into the app. Additionally, I hope to create a page that describes the work being done at the astronomical imaging lab and in the field of astronomy. The page will also provide links to astronomy websites so the user can easily learn more about the events and processes they are exposed to in the game.

Friday, July 15, 2016

July 15

Today I was met with a mix of good and bad news. I'll start with the bad. This morning, I wrote code to make objects in the game be evenly distributed when they are randomly spawned in. Before implementing this code, there was a much higher density of objects in the center of the view. This was because my method for randomly spawning in objects had been to use randomly chosen polar coordinate, since the view was a circle. However, I had forgotten to take into account the fact that the density of objects must be higher for a larger distance from the center. To fix this, I used rectangular coordinates instead and eliminated any points that fell outside the circle.

While I was testing the results of the new code, I discovered a bug in the movement control system. After starting about four new games, the movement control suddenly becomes delayed. This was surprising because I thought that I had finished my work with the movement control system. I will work on this bug over the weekend so hopefully my blog on Monday will contain an explanation of how I fixed it.

The good news was that the plans for the field trip to the Eastman Museum have been finalized. The trip will take place July 28th, and some other students from the center besides the high school interns will also attend. Additionally, Mr. Callens told us today at the morning intern meeting that there will be a "Bring Your Friend to Work Day" on August 2nd. Each of the interns are encouraged to bring a friend who is interested in science with them into work. I will have a hard time deciding who to bring because many of my friends fit the bill.

Today was also our weekly cookout. This week, we decided to grill hot dogs instead of burgers. After a small delay in getting the fire going, Nate and I were fairly successful at grilling some delicious hot dogs. Allyse was kind enough to bring in two cartons of ice cream for us all to enjoy.

By either tonight or tomorrow, I will have posted my draft for the abstract that each intern is supposed to write by Monday.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

July 14

During the morning meeting today, we all decided to meet at 11:30 so we could head to Global Village together for lunch. Unfortunately, Zihao had forgotten we were getting lunch together and brought his own lunch. Bob Callens surprised us all at the meeting by bringing in Wegman's donuts. Since we could not eat them all, we wrote "Intern Experiment. Caution!" on the box containing the remaining donuts. We will have to see how effective the message is.

After the meeting, I spent some time finishing the chapter in The Essential Cosmic Perspective about space beyond the Milky Way. The last section of the chapter was most interesting as it pertained to supermassive black holes and quasars, both of which I have been extremely curious about for years. I learned that since we cannot actually see black holes, the only way we can determine if they exist is to examine the motion of objects surrounding locations where we think black holes might be.

At 11:30, the other interns and I met up and walked to lunch. We had planned on going to Crossroads because we had not eaten there yet, but it was closed so we resorted to Salsarita's. I love burritos so I didn't mind as much as some of the others.

In the afternoon, I figured out how to add thumbnail images to the TableView in the gallery page. Now the user can see a preview of the image that will appear if they select a certain cell. I also made some aesthetic changes to the page where the photos from the gallery are displayed. It now matches the space theme of the rest of the app.

Additionally, I developed a way to ensure that none of the objects in the game overlap. I can now chose to spawn any number of objects in random locations and still be confident that none of them will overlap.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Week One Complete!

Although it has only been one week since I began the internship, I really feel like I have developed a solid daily routine. As usual, we had our intern meeting in the morning. There, Mr. Callens encouraged all of us to attend the weekly lunch talk given on Wednesdays at noon. Each week, someone from one of the labs at the center gives a talk about research being done in their lab.

For the rest of the morning, I spent most of my time reading more of The Essential Cosmic Perspective. I am now almost done with the chapter about extragalactic space and how galaxies interact with each other. One of the most interesting parts of the chapter so far was about the many methods humans have developed in order to observe galaxies and objects farther and farther distances away from Earth. We can now make observations of galaxies billions of light-years away!

Just before lunch, I met with Dr. Kartaltepe to try out STIFF. I was already somewhat familiar with it because I practiced using it last night. Dr. Kartaltepe showed me how to create three color images using a function in the program I had not yet figured out how to use. After I play around with STIFF a little more to figure out how to create the best image possible, I will try to write a script to create hundreds of color images at a time.

Before the lunch talk, drinks and delicious pizza were provided (the buffalo chicken pizza was especially good). The talk was given by a professor from the visual perception lab. He gave truly remarkable examples illustrating that the way we generally think of everyday vision is wrong. The talk was very interesting and it made me excited to volunteer as a test subject for the visual perception lab's experiments.

I also made progress on the game mechanics of the app today. I designed the size and shape of the area in which the user will be able to move, and I made it so that objects will spawn just outside the visible screen in the direction the user is moving. This way, the user will always encounter new objects.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

July 12

This morning, we heard more from Mr. Callens about the field trip that we are going on later this summer. Since the observatory is unavailable due to scheduling conflicts, we will go to the Eastman Museum to take a private tour of the facility and see special archives.

The interns and I also decided that we would all walk to Global Village every Thursday to grab lunch. I think this is a great idea because it will give us more time to get to know each other. Plus, the food at Global Village is amazing!

Regarding the app, today I worked on creating an animated background to be used in all the non-game pages of the app. My goal was to develop a background that looked like moving stars. To do this, I chose to create hundreds on tiny, white subviews resembling stars and place them on a nearly black superview. I had the stars move at different speeds across the screen and made the slow moving stars more translucent. This created an illusion of depth.

After lunch, I redesigned the button layout and appearance on the menu screen to make it look visually appealing. Then, I implemented a navigation controller so that the user can easily move between pages of the app. However, the navigation bar is also present on the game page which looks bad and covers up too much of the screen. I will have to modify it so that the game page looks nicer and the bar does not interfere with gameplay.

Dr. Kartaltepe and I decided not to meet today because she was only available after 4 and I was attending a lecture at 4. We will meet tomorrow to go over how to use STIFF. The lecture, given by Dr. Roger Dube, was part of a series on entrepreneurship and I found it quite interesting. He discussed prototyping, alpha tests, and beta tests, granting me new insight into how products are first created.

Monday, July 11, 2016

First Monday

At the intern meeting this morning, each intern gave a short explanation of the research they would be doing this summer. We also convinced Allyse that Monday was too soon to be planning what we should all bring for the cookout on Friday.

After the meeting, I went downstairs to continue working on the app. Three new students arrived in the morning and will be working in the classroom where I work. Despite the larger number of people, we all remained focused throughout the day.

I made progress on developing the movement control system and the UITableViewController in the app. Then, I met with Dr. Kartaltepe in her office so that we could touch base. We decided to meet tomorrow again to try out STIFF and see if we could learn how to make pretty color images from black and white images of galaxies that we have.

For lunch, the other interns and I ate in a new corner of the building we found. The area is near large windows and has nice round tables with plush chairs, so I think we will eat there from now on.

In the afternoon, I moved my movement control code from my testing project into the main project I will use for developing the final app. I also created a UIImageView in which I can easily display photos.

Friday, July 8, 2016

First Friday

This was the first Friday of the internship. As usual, the day began with the intern meeting at 8:45 in the Reading Room. Most of the meeting was spent discussing what we would do if it rained during our cookout (we did not look keenly upon playing volleyball in the mud).

After the meeting, I went down to my usual workplace to work on the iPhone app. Two undergraduates, named Noah and Dale, work in the same room as me so I always have some company. Before lunch, I made progress on learning how to link the motion of an object on the screen to data from the accelerometer.

At the cookout, most of the interns were initially apprehensive about cooking on the grill because most of us had never grilled before. However, Allyse took charge and started working on the burgers. I ended up eating a lot of good food, drinking a little too much soda, and having fun on the volleyball court (the rain cleared up).

In the afternoon, I continued to work on the app, creating an outline for it and setting up the navigation between pages. I also figured out how to have the environment surrounding the main object move so that the object could remain fixed in the center of the screen.

Overall, I was very productive today despite the long lunch. I look forward to the next cookout!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Day 2!

Today was the second day of the internship, and I can safely say this will be a great summer! All the interns met for our daily meeting and we made preparations for our first cookout tomorrow at lunch (I will bring the burgers)

Afterwards, I went to the classroom in which I will be working and settled in. My workplace is quite spacious and has an outlet so I should work very efficiently there this summer. I spent the morning reading through some chapters of a textbook that Dr. Kartaltepe gave me while I took notes on it. Just the first chapter has already drastically expanded my knowledge about galaxies and their formations.

The interns and I had lunch together in the meeting room. It was a relaxing break. I then met with Dr. Kartaltepe and introduced myself to a college student who is working on developing the same app as me but for Android (opposed to iPhone). We will likely work together in the near future. I spent the rest of the afternoon brainstorming ideas for the app, setting up the programming project in Xcode, and playing around with images of galaxies on DS9 and STIFF.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

July 6: First Day

Today was the first day of the internship. All the interns met at 8:45 in the morning for a meeting, something we will do everyday of the internship. Afterwards, we got a tour of the Chester F. Carlson CIS building which familiarized us with the layout of the building we would be working in. 


We then went to the "Red Barn" where we participated in several team building exercises in groups. The exercises ranged from analyzing knots to building towers out of pipes to pouring water into a tin can. The activities were very entertaining and I believe they helped me and the rest of the interns get to know and trust each other.

After the activities, we all walked to the Global Village where we ate lunch at Salsarita's (a restaurant similar to Chipotle or Moe's). I was able to talk more to a few of the interns during lunch which let me get to know them even better.


Next, we each met with our individual advisors; my advisor is Dr. Jeyhan Kartaltepe. For my project, I will work on developing a game application for the iPhone. The game will revolve around teaching the user about galaxy formation and other astronomical phenomena in a fun and interesting way. Dr. Kartaltepe gave me some books and links for me to read over which I did for the rest of the day.

I am very excited for this internship!