Wednesday, February 22, 2017


It felt like icicles were forming on my back as I stood next to the swimming pool, waiting for my swim team’s coach to arrive. Shivering, I looked left and right, unable to find him. Today was Torture Tuesday. Although I was not looking forward to it, standing in the chilling air was another torture itself. The swimming pool in which my swim team held its practices was next to the bay, and our practices were so perfectly timed that the frosty breeze would hit us when we practiced, freezing the water on our skin.

After what seemed like eons, the coach arrived and commanded, “Get into the pool, and start your warm up. We have lots of stuff to do, and I know you are all looking forward to today’s routine.” Our little troop groaned, being the little eleven year olds we were, and slid into the chilly water, albeit a relief from the cold air. We did our repetitive and simple warm up, accepting our fate. Burning and stiff muscles were all that awaited us. You may be wondering what these Torture Tuesday’s were. Torture Tuesdays were extremely similar to the well known “suicides”, but these were literally, SUICIDES. Suicides are when you run a certain distance, run back to where you started, then run back that certain distance, return, then run even farther than before, then repeat that process for however long the coach chooses, or until you throw up.  This was Torture Tuesday’s, but with a such a genius twist that only a mad scientist devise it. Being a swim team, instead of running, we would swim more and more laps, alternating between freestyle and butterfly (Butterfly is a VERY exhausting stroke).

This is how a normal Torture Tuesday went: First, we would do a simple, relatively relaxing lap of freestyle. We would get out of the water, do a pushup, then dive back into the water, this time doing two laps in butterfly. We would then proceed to rapidly exit the water, do two pushups, then get back into the water again, and swim three laps in freestyle, et cetera. We would do this for a whopping, excruciating twelve times, for a grand total of seventy-eight laps, and seventy-eight pushups.

As we began our evil, world domination worthy routine, my shoulders started to ache just watching the other kids begin their push off, almost my turn. The first lap was like the calm before the storm, peaceful and fluid, the pushup a tiny annoyance.  However, my strength started to erode by the third set. Every time my shoulder and arms went above the water, preparing for the next stroke, I would feel a shocking pain, my muscles begging me to stop. However, no matter how far I swam, how many laps I did, whatever stroke I was swimming, the pushups would always be the most agonizing. The ground enveloping the pool was like the Cyclops’s Cave from the Odyssey, uneven and full of sharp rocks. When I did pushups, I could feel the rocks and grooves digging into my frozen hands. I looked at my hands, and I could see the pattern that the ground carved into them, almost as if my hands were wooden blocks, and a knife scratched words into them. Then, I dove into the pool, a 10/10 Olympic dive, and began to swim.

From far away, a stranger would not be able to make out the suffering. We looked like salmon- No. We were salmon hopping upstream, knowing that exhaustion was our final end. We all had one goal; we needed to complete the routine.

By the ninth set, I was six feet under. I was dead. I was a swimming zombie. I could not feel. I was performing the Nike slogan perfectly. I just did, and did, and did, but I didn’t think. I apparently was sleeping in an awkward position while swimming at the same time, because my legs, arms, and hands all felt numb. Every breath hurt, but I couldn’t stop. Every breath felt like swallowing a burning match, the fire burning the inside of my lungs, spreading all the way to my heart and stomach. I could’ve sworn I was being cooked over a bunsen burner. I heard the coach scream, “Faster! Faster! FASTER!”

I scrambled out of the pool, and did eight pushups in the liquid nitrogen temperature air, the ground scraping and performing an archeological dig on my hands. Suddenly, as if lightning hit me out of nowhere, my brain fried. I didn’t know what set I was on. Time was a jumble. As the other kids started their pushups, we all grabbed kick boards and used them to protect our defenseless hands against the cruel ground, begging for mercy. However, there wasn’t enough of the lovely cushions, so we fought and shoved over who used the kick boards.By now, you must be wondering why I kept swimming, if all this was so cringe worthy and wincable.

Everyday, every single day, I would remember that it was all worthwhile. Every painful stroke, every tiring and exhausting pushup, all led to winning in swim meets, beating your own time, and that feeling of success and happiness when the comes with triumph.
Most of all, I remember the determination and grit I had. I was able to swim a total of seventy-eight laps and execute seventy-eight pushups each Tuesday. I remember never stopping, never complaining, and always finishing Torture Tuesdays, regardless of how intensely painful it was each time. Perseverance. That is what I value most in my identity.


It was a freezing cold, dark night, and I was wearing three layers of clothes. Nonetheless, I felt the damp air on my neck. I was with my fellow Galaxy Explorers from Astronomy team at Chabot Space and Science Center. Everyone was excited about tonight. We were going outside of the Center to hike in Redwood Regional Park so we could view stars without light pollution, the bane of any astronomer’s existence. Of course, I was clowning around making bad puns while we walked on a trail, and we all shared some good laughs.
We found a perfect spot where the light was blocked by trees and we could see plenty of eye-grabbing stars. I focused my binoculars on Polaris to calibrate them. Then, we laid down in silence and began looking at the different nebulae and stars. We found the blurry thumbprint, the Andromeda Galaxy. Suddenly, I lost my breath. The beauty was overwhelming. Although I couldn’t see it clearly, it was very bright. Seeing an entire galaxy, alike the one we inhabit, as a faraway smudge, put into perspective just how tiny we all are. I was literally looking at more stars in one small spot of the sky than in our entire galaxy. It tugged at my heart, and I yearned to know; why are we here, why is the universe here? I remember a quote by Carl Sagan, “For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.” At this moment, I remembered what I found so interesting in astrophysics and space. I want to learn everything I can about astrophysics and the reality of the universe. Since I was a child, I was interested in the unknown. I’d look up at the sky and wonder why the stars were twinkling, or why one blue, another red, which was hotter, which was larger. Now, I spend my time browsing the internet, reading science magazines, and going to museums to satisfy my curiosity.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Do TIE Fighters Really Work?

Due to the renewed hype about Star Wars, and me being a BIG fan of the series, I was inspired by a Nerdist video on youtube, about how we have TIE Fighters today. A TIE Fighter actually stands for Twin Ion Engine. I guess it also doubles as just a tie, because a TIE Fighter does look like a bowtie. Nerdist explains the basic physics of an ion cannon, a cannon that shoots charged ions in a certain direction to propel something in another, and that they would be extremely inefficient in the real world, because it would take too long to get to a velocity where we would be able to go between planets and moons. I would agree with him, but what I got from the video was that the engine would only be shooting one ion atom at a time. However, what if it was shooting more than one, perhaps 1000? The solar panels on the wings of the TIE fighter would provide constant charge, and 1000 atoms at a time, perhaps 1000 atoms/microsecond, and launched the ship at an initial velocity of 5000 mph. The non existent resistance would keep the moving at the same velocity, and the dual engines would actually make 1000 atoms be 2000 atoms/microsecond, proving to be extremely fast, although small. In the vacuum of space, however, there really is negligible deceleration, because although a gravitational force is constantly acting on it, it would be so far away the TIE fighter wouldn't even move an atom as a result of it. Thus, since the constant supply of charge, and an enormous amount of atoms, we could potentially create a working TIE Fighter just like the ones in the Star Wars universe. You may be asking, but this is in space, what about over a planet like Earth where gravity is strong and cannot be thrown out of the picture? Well, in given time we may have that.

Where there is gravity, there is some sort of air, granted sometimes not enough to have a proper atmosphere (e.g. Mercury), but when we launch satellites into space, there is an escape velocity in which they travel to keep them from crashing down out of orbit. We could potentially calculate that velocity down closer to the ground, then use the ion cannons to suspend it at the certain elevations. The amount of atoms launched could be massive on a planet like Earth, where there are countless atoms in the atmosphere. The ion cannons could proportionally launch one 1,000,000,000,000 atoms a micro second per cannon to suspend the ship, the solar panels would provide a charge, and perhaps an external vacuum could continue to collect more and more atoms.

This is still far in the future, where we still have to launch these TIE Fighters at phenomenal velocities, but in a more than distant future, we may have the TIE Fighters that the Empire and First Order had a long long time ago in a galaxy far far away.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015


The great Warlord of Planet Terruno was preparing for battle against the Warlord of planet Amable. The Warlord of Terruno had a fitting name for his type of brutality, Cruentis, which also resembled the Latin word for blood. The Warlord of Amable had a kinder name, matching is gentler personality, although he was still crueler than most people. His name was Exli. They were both in their motherships, surrounding the asteroid belt of Tarth, each with over a thousand battle ships at there command, as well as tens of thousands of tiny little fighters.

Cruentis knew that he would win. He felt a good sensation in his head as he laid out the plan to destroy his enemy. Cruentis moved little dots around on a hover map of the battlefield. They were to use the Lambda formation, attack in a V shape, the curl the ends to disorient the enemy. It was an ancient tactic, but extremely deadly.

On the other hand, Exli was prepared to use a modern tactic. It was a bomb and run tactic, where all ships would focus fire on the nearest ship, then immediately regroup again, and go in for another run on a different ship until the enemy fleet was destroyed. It was a new strategy, one that Cruentis would not suspect.

Cruentis was not one to wait. After he finished explaining his plan to his commanders, he attacked. Exli saw the enemy fleet move and broke out in sweat. He was nervous, but not nervous enough to panic. He told his fleet to execute the plan, and flawlessly, his fleet started to conglomerate into one giant mass. They started to fire upon the nearest command ship, and it quickly broke up, but through the emptiness of space, no scream was heard.

Cruentis was enraged to see a battleship be destroyed already, and he ordered all his troops to fire at the nearest enemy. There was blinding light as laser blasters fired and fighters were destroyed. It was a terrible battle, resulting in a thousand dead. The fleets broke up and became spaced into each other, each Warlord's intelligent plan crumbling into dust as the fighter pilots fought to survive. Exli marched over to his personal fighter, and four of his soldiers accompanied him into their fighters. They flew out of the mothership and into the battle.

Exli was a seasoned pilot, and he immediately destroyed two enemies with ease, and quickly brought down three others. He did a barrel roll and headed for Cruentis's ship. Exli's bodyguards tailed closely behind him, forming a perfect V shape. The 5 were like a flock of geese, smoothly and evenly weaving in between ships. Cruentis stepped towards the pane looking out over the battle and saw Exli's ship, unaware of the pilot. Cruentis cried, "Destroy that sniveling pilot! We need to destroy Exli and conquer Amable once and for all!" Cruentis grabbed a soldier from out of his turret chair and climbed in himself. He scoped in and shot two of Exli's body guards, each pilot's ship hurling towards an asteroid. Cruentis smiled a scary evil smile and licked his lips. He shot the two other body guards down, and when he scoped onto Exli's ship, he gasped. He had no idea that Exli was piloting the ship. It was too easy. He took aim, and fired. Exli's ship was blown into pieces. Cruentis cheered and bellowed, "Exli was been killed! Victory for the Terruno!" His crew cheered. He was about to transfer the news on all channels when he heard a thud behind him. A General gasped. Cruentis turned around and his mouth dropped open. It was Exli. Exli had a space suit on and had cut a hole in the ship, which automatically sealed itself. Cruentis whispered, " B-B-But h-h-how did you survive?" Exli laughed and said, "I knew you would shoot me down, so I ejected from my fighter on your ship, and let a hologram take up the pilot seat. You were so easily fooled, and I am afraid I must kill you to protect my people." Cruentis roared and ripped a swivel chair from out of the ship and threw it at Exli. Exli dodged it and shot a blaster pistol at Cruentis. Cruentis was hit. and the smell of burning flesh filled the room. Cruentis was shot in the heart. Cruentis screamed and wailed. He collapsed to the ground gasping, and in barely a whisper said, "You will die with me." Cruentis pulled on a lever and the ship powered down, allowing the gravity of Amable to pull it. Exli rushed forwards and tried to turn the massive ship back on, but it was too late. The system was completely locked and sealed. There was no way out. Exli turned on his communications device on his space suit and announced to his fleet as he plummeted, "People of Amable. I am going to die, but do not fear. Live your lives with peace and harmony with the people of Terruno. Tell them they are no longer oppresed by the dead Warlord Cruentis, and that we will never forget anyones sacrifice in this war. Goodnight." The ship hit Amable, and the communications device went silent.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


After years of building his "beam me up Scotty" teleport device, Professor Gimmy Jibs was ready to unveil it to the anticipation universe. In his magnificent unveiling he described it as, "a simple concept, but hard to achieve." The concept WAS pretty simple. It required the molecules of a being to be transported at the speed of light than rearranged in the same pattern in a different position. Of course, the most challenging part was getting the molecules to be rearranged in the proper positions. An even MORE challenging part was getting people to stay alive during the process. After a couple of sad but necessary losses, the teleport machine was functional and perfect. The Professor cried out at the audience, "Ladies and Gentlemen, if I may request you all to put on your sunglasses I asked you bring." He waited. "Now, I will demonstrate the power of the magical device by sending a piece of rock twenty feet to my left and the teleport station there. he set the rock down on the teleport station in front of him, and the audience leaned in with curiosity. The Professor flipped a switch, and the rock disappeared in a flash of light, instantly reappearing in the other teleport station, retaining its shape and properties. The Professor continued, "Wonderful isn't it? Now, I will demonstrate this on myself! My apprentice Galywax, hold this lever and pull it when I am on the platform." The Professor was climbing on the platform and before he could say go, he disappeared in a flash of light and reappeared at the other end, shouting, "Go!" The audience laughed and the Professor chuckled himself. He bowed and said, "Now, Ladies and Gentlemen, people of Earth, I give you the technology to travel anywhere instantaneously!" The audience applause sounded like thunder was laughing, but then, everything went wrong...

The Professor screamed and started holding his stomach while doctors rushed to the stage. He lifted up his shirt and saw that his body was steaming and smoking. He flailed as the panicked doctors became confused. They brought him to the hover ambulance and sent him to the moon, a mass hospital for the critically ill. During this time, the rock also started to sizzle and smoke, its inside growing red hot, until it disintegrated into a pile of dust. The audience shoved each other and jumped over each other trying to escape, but Galywax stopped them. He said, "Foolish Professor. He helped me accomplish my plans. The teleportation was just a side affect of my magnificent plan to end life on Earth!" A cackling laugh filled the auditorium. "You see, the transportation of molecules at the speed of light cause a mass disruption in the flux of the universe, causing bits of rock and people to-" He paused. "Stop existing." The audience screamed and charged Galywax, but he took a blaster from out of his coat and pointed it at the audience. He said, "Bye!" The blaster had the same mechanics as the teleportation machine. The sent a beam going through the audience, and they all started to grab at their abdomens and dissolve. Galywax laughed and gave a groaning man a thumbs up. The man's last words were, "You're crazy..."

Galywax entered a code into the former teleport machine until a large transmitter emerged from the top. He started the program, got in his space ship, and left for Alpha Centauri 7. 

Sixteen minutes was all the time for the human race to live. The powers of the world gathered together in an emergency meeting, finding a way to live. After a precious three minutes of consulting, they decided to evacuate as many people off Earth as possible and to go to the Tenua system, and star system only two light years away. The trip would take three years but it would save the human race from extinction. Emergency alarms went off, televisions sent emergency broadcast messages, and the human race left Earth, and each person saw the Sun dissolve, dissolve into nothingness, then the Earth losing its orbital path and freezing, the oceans becoming enormous ice gems, but the human race moved on.

During those three precious minutes, and despite the importance of it, tears were shed. Imagine it, at the moment of no hope, finally reaching a desperate conclusion to abandon home, the original planet to have human life, and for those humans to abandon it. However, through that sorrow and desperateness, hope. Hope for a future with humans and hope to survive another day.



The stars above twinkled unknowingly of the chaos down below. The space ship XT-22 was in an intense storm, pummeled by meteors, and being sucked towards the planet of Neptune 3. The captain screamed into the telephone, "XT-22 is going down, I repeat, XT-22 is going down!" The receiver on planet Earth replied, 'STAY IN ORBIT, RESCUE SHIPS ARE ON THE WAY! ARRIVAL TIME IN APPROXIMATELY 4 HOURS!" The captain swore and turned off the phone.

 A meteor slammed straight into the hull of the ship, and forty unlucky sailors were sucked towards the planet's surface. The Captain screamed to a Sergeant, "Williams, stabilize this ship we need to stay in orbit." Williams pressed flashing buttons appearing on the screen in front of him, and the ships motors sprang into action, the nuclear power cell heating up over a thousand degrees. The ship slowly started to escape orbit until another meteor slammed into the engine room, killing thirty people instantly and shutting down the engines. Once again, the ship startled to tumble towards the gigantic gas giant Neptune 3. A third meteor hit the life supply chamber and broke trough the entire shop, creating a massive hole. Air was being sucked out quickly, and water and food fell towards the planet, disintegrating as it entered the atmosphere. At this time, nearly three quarters of the crew were dead, and life support was failing for the rest of the crew...

Captain Williams scrambled back onto his feet and assessed the damage done to XT-22. The main power was failing, but still on for the moment, and they sent out a distress signal, draining the battery even more. They dimmed the lights, and turned off all unnecessary utilities. By now only twelve crew members were alive on a eighty two man spaceship. The hull creaked as the gravitational pull of the Neptune pulled it, and the were slowly falling, almost at escape velocity to get in orbit, but it still wasn't enough. Neptune 3's gravity was three times that of Neptune, and the Captain ordered them to get to the escape pods. Williams protested, "Sir, as much as I would like that, the pods are on the other side of the ship, we would have to go through massive holes in order to get to them!?"

"Then we will go around the holes!" cried the Captain. Thus, the twelve remaining crew members trekked across the giant ship. On floor three, the encountered their first obstacle, a gap the size of the a school bus. The air shield preventing them from being sucked towards Neptune 3 was holding, but the main power was at ten percent and decreasing. One man was so desperate he jumped, and before anyone could stopped him he fell through the air shield and towards Neptune 3. Williams shouted, "What an idiot." They decided to go up one more floor and go above, although it cost them time and air. They kept traveling, and met many similar obstacles that everyone got past. Two hours had passed, and the main battery was at two percent. They were running as fast as they could, until they reached corridor seven of floor sixty three. A gas line suddenly broke, opening holes in the wall around them, sending three people tumbling to their deaths.The captain held onto one of the pipes, by the force of gravity pulled him and the pull perpendicular to the ground. Pure nitrogen was being sprayed into the Captain's face, and Williams tried to help. Williams grabbed the captains arm, and tried to pull him up but the Captain's weight was already to big. After an excruciating two minutes, the captain fainted from suffocation and fell towards Neptune 3, a look of shock still on his face. The remaining seven people rushed towards the nearby escape pods, and climbed into them, relief on their faces. Some attempted to eject, but there was too little power to release the pods. Williams went back out of his cell, and went to the control panel and was prepared to turn on power to the release of the pods, even those that kept the air shield intact. He closed his eyes and pressed the button. Four escape pods launched, and Williams lunged to reach for the fifth. His friend Jim reached forward and grabbed him trying to pull Williams into the escape pod. Williams flailed and flopped, unable to get in. He screamed and said, "Jim! Go! I can't make it!" Williams let go of Jim's hands and spread his arms out, falling. Jim shouted, "NO!", then launched the escape pod and maneuvered it underneath to try and catch Williams. Williams landed on top of the pod, unconscious and near death. His body was blue, and Jim dragged him in and accelerated to escape velocity. Some pods were not so lucky, hitting wreckage and exploding. By the time the rescue crew arrived, only two pods were left, Williams pod, and some other lucky bloke's pod. Only four survivors out of an eighty-two man crew.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Note to Fifth Grade Self

(names omitted for confidentiality)

In the morning when you go to school, always practice four-square. If you don't, they WILL get you out, and you won't be happy.  Remember the four-square rules. Don’t double bounce, don’t optional. There are four squares, as the name suggests. A, B, C, and D. In the morning, the other fifth graders will still be playing four-square, screaming loud pirate sounds until your eardrums pop. They'll scream Meers-Meat until their lungs come out and till you can't take it anymore. It doesn't matter. Don't start a conversation with another kid. You need to focus and zero-in on the game. Get all the practice you can until lunch. Lunch is execution for those who aren't prepared. Make your way to D square. That square is a slaughterhouse. The smaller kids are the cows and the bigger ones are the farmers. Do whatever you can to stay alive, but most importantly, pay attention. Don't listen to the other kids. Just listen to your breathing and focus. Ignore the reeking smell of sweat on the older kids. Try to get a few hits on the ball, maybe even get someone out, although you will probably regret it later in the day, as they will get their revenge. As long as you are capable to live until recess, you won't be massacred along with many other of the smaller kids. BAM! Of course, you are on the ground with scrapes all over your bloody hands and knees. Get up, don't bother crying or whining, it will get you no where. Just walk towards the bathroom and wipe off the blood. It will hurt, like touching a searing hot pan on a stove. Its time for class, and Bob, one of the best four-square players runs up to you and checks if you are ok. You say yes, but really, you aren't. You trust Bob, and befriend him, and the feeling is mutual. Bob is a good kid, and is extremely nice, but during the game, Bob will do anything to help his buddy David, and David loves to get the lower squares and “puny weaklings” out. There is No Mercy in the game of four-square.

A few classes pass, many hours of thinking about four-square, and it is finally Recess. Recess is dangerous, it is the preliminaries for a major tournament during lunch. Anyone who stays in during Recess will have a better chance in lunch, and may not be obliterated by other kids. You are not of those kids. You need to try as hard as you can just to be CLOSE to be one of those kids. You will enter D square, and try your best. Salty sweat will drip down your forehead. Stare at the ball, don’t let it sneak up on you. The ball bounces past your head, and you get out. Looking back, you should have done something else during recess, instead of waiting in line. Of course, you wait. You wait and wait and it seems like days, but really only fifteen minutes, until you get to the front of the line but the whistle blows, and all you can do is sigh, hide your frustrated tears all the way from the time you got out, and go to your next class.

It is finally lunch, the sun shining onto your shoulders and head, your lunch a gooey mess. You knock over your drink by accident, and think to yourself, what a bad day… You eat your lunch, ignoring the looks, but savoring the excellent taste. Then, you get in line to play four-square. This time, it is the real deal. Finally, you get into D square. You slam the ball when it is served to you, the wounds stinging. The sun shines on your glasses, blinding you, but by instinct, you hit the ball, getting David, the tall giant whose head covered the sun and eyes like daggers, out. Of course, he is in A square, with so much power in the fifth grade class he calls a redo. He calls you names as he gets you out, and you hear the dreaded word, “Scrub”. By then, the dam will break. Tears flow down your cheeks and you run away. You don’t speak to anyone the entire day, and that night, you pledge that you will suck it up and not care anymore...