Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Robots, fishes, and miraculous coincidences

After a luxurious breakfast of bacon, eggs and cinnamon buns we set
off for Gloucester station with the final destination of Boston.
Checking email before we left was a great idea because we could make
dinner pans with Ukiko!

The train we wanted departed at 10:08am, and we made it to the
platform by 10:04 not knowing how to get a ticket or ride the train.
The car next to us had very helpful folks who explained the process.
It turns out that they were from Ontario too. One guy saw my Queens
shirt and said with a bit of attitude that he's from Western. It
really is a small world.

The hour commute was smooth and airconditioned, and had wifi. We
confirmed dinner plans, updated the blog, and I was thankful that I
wasn't driving.

The first stop in Boston was Harvard. We walked around the historic
square and snuck in with some tour groups to hear details about the
buildings. Where Yale was sandstone, Harvard is brick. There are walls
and ornate gates around the old parts of the campus, but the school
sprawls out in all directions past that. We went to the Natural
History Museum and Museum of Ethnology and saw room after room of
taxidermied species, rocks/minerals, and lessons about evolution. Evan
found an alpaca that looked pretty fluffy.

The ethnology museum held cultural artifacts from various corners of
the world. I saw lots of weaving and textiles which were fascinating.

Next stop was MIT to see robots in action. There were some amazing
displays of robots and features of robots, and videos explaining
different aspects like haptic technology and the social robot named
Kismet that interacts with people, showing the appropriate facial
expression and tone of voice. We also saw an amazing gallery of
holograms that boggled my mind.

Next stop was the aquarium where we took a tour and saw penguins and
fish/aquatic life from all over the globe, and all depths of the sea.
There were sharks and many other large fish and rays swimming in a
central cylindrical tank that housed a coral reef. It was peaceful to
watch the penguins and fish play. As we were leaving we saw the seals
and sealions rolling around in the water scratching themselves with
their flippers. They are kinda fuzzy when they dry off.

The IMAX that we saw was all about surfing in Tahiti. A 3D IMAX is a
very cool thing to see!

After the movie we met Ukiko and her husband and had dinner at a
nearby market. Evan and I tried clam chowder, it was pretty good! We
sat and chatted until the market closed. It was such a lucky
coincidence that we could meet. They are headed back to Japan in 2
days! After not really being in contact for 7 years, it was such a
great feeling to pick up where we left off, being silly and enjoying
eachother's company. Evan has now even gained some potential contacts
at Brown. It was a very great way to spend the evening.

Evan's high points of the day were the MIT museum because his lab in
Korea was working on some similar experiments. He also wants to say
how much he enjoyed dinner and making new friends.

We're now on the commuter train headed back to Gloucester where I'm
sure we will sleep well after such a busy day. Salem tomorrow, and off
to Sutton Falls for the night where there may or may not be wifi.

Sent from my iPod

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