The Weather Outside is Frightful

As I'm sure literally everyone knows, these are some crazy times we're living in. But I'm not going to go into detail on stories you've heard over and over again because I think it's important to keep this blog relevant to the purpose of its creation.

But I have to explain some things that happened that have directly effected PETER's development. As a disclosure for story you're about to read, all of the work that I've done with my teammates on school property has been to contribute to a school project that is distinct from PETER. However, I've been learning the skills necessary to develop PETER through this work, so I hoped to take those skills and apply them on my own.

To begin, I currently attend the University of California Santa Cruz, which has had intermittent shut downs due to the graduate students performing a wildcat strike to obtain a COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment). While I agree wholeheartedly with the stance of the graduate students, the striking, coupled with the inflexible and disconnected administration, caused me to be physically incapable of entering the school on multiple occasions. Also, because of these shut downs my team and I weren't able to work consistently in our laboratory. So my team's experiments failed. Like, all of them failed. There was no reaction where there should have been and the data was so riddled with gaps of information (because of the gaps of time in these time-sensitive reactions) that basically all of my team's results were unable to contribute to proving or disproving the previous assertions we based our experiments off of. So they were a complete failure. However, the plan was for us to start the experiments fresh at the start of the next quarter (Spring 2020), with the intention of running multiple rounds of experiments at a time while testing for different variables.

Then COVID-19 hit.

So UCSC has decided to shut down all in-person classes while allowing the laboratories and other facilities to run. This was something our group discussed and we still agreed to work in person at the lab. Unfortunately, a young man in the lab we worked at fell ill and, without a test kit available, the professor in charge of the lab decided to not take any risks and shut down the lab completely. In an effort to save what we had I was allowed to enter the lab one last time and gather the materials, but without a wet lab to run the experiments my team had to get really creative. We decided to split up the experiments and each test for the same variable, then we would come together and run a control group to see how different our results were. Although in order to run the experiments we had to jerry-rig a lot of equipment. I needed to go to the thrift store and buy a used fish tank, a hot plate, and mason jars. Thankfully I also needed those materials to perform PETER's first demo, so it worked out.

So right now the landscape looks like this: PETER' first demo will be made from the scraps of an in-home science experiment that was produced in reaction to an indefinitely closed wet lab with a contamination risk. I must also figure out a way to gather the raw materials I need to construct PETER without frightening anyone with too many in-person interactions and with many of the businesses I previously sought out closing for an unspecified amount of time.

Despite all this, I never considered slowing down on PETER's development. She's just as crucial now as she was four months from now. I still consider myself on target, so the demo should still be released by May.

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