ESP Biography

JAMES PENNA, MIT sophomore studying physics

Major: Physics

College/Employer: MIT

Year of Graduation: 2015

Picture of James Penna

Brief Biographical Sketch:

I grew up as the oldest in a family of seven children, which taxed my patience but gave me an iron-clad will and a life-long love of children. That means i won't get angry at potential students. I love science and learning, true, but am also into some stuff considered pretty artsy. I like reading and writing, but mostly sci-fi and fantasy, I like listening to music, mostly classic rock and the like, and I have played musical instruments (electric bass for a few years and the euphonium for nearly nine years. If you don't know what a euphonium is, look it up). I also like political activities, like the YMCA Youth and Government program I did in high school. I also enjoy fishing and other such outdoorsy-stuff. Point is, I'm a very varied individual.
Now that I'm at MIT, I hope to achieve my degree in Physics and go on to get a doctorate in the subject.

Past Classes

  (Clicking a class title will bring you to the course's section of the corresponding course catalog)

S8748: Star power - introduction to plasma and fusion in Splash 2014 (Nov. 22 - 23, 2014)
Interested in what makes the sun shine? Curious about how we can build a star on earth? Just want to see a bunch of cool topics from physics thrown together in one subject? Plasma physics is the right class for you!

W8749: Crash demos in physics! in Splash 2014 (Nov. 22 - 23, 2014)
You came in like a.....simple frictionless pendulum? Come see a few neat principles from physics demonstrated by live experiments and demos right before your eyes! Learn how a few sets of equations govern what's around you and learn how to use the F = ma!

S8276: Advanced Physics and the future of space travel in Spark 2014 (Mar. 15 - 16, 2014)
From Star Wars to the Space Shuttle, it's been the human dream to travel to infinity and beyond. But how will we get there? We need to explore new fields of science and engineering and develop new ideas in order to conquer the final frontier.

H7255: Writing Speculative Fiction in HSSP Summer 2013 (Jul. 07, 2013)
Boundless alien landscapes, fantastic future worlds beyond comprehension, sword and sandals sorcery, and the mountaintop keeps of giants and dragons - learn how to write without limits and pen the stories you've always imagined. This course will teach the specialized techniques behind world building and plot lining in science fiction and fantasy, culminating in the students writing a short speculative fiction story as a final assignment.

S7256: Centauri Tomorrow: Planning Mankind's First Interstellar Space Mission in HSSP Summer 2013 (Jul. 07, 2013)
The year is 2100. A civilization from Earth's nearest neighboring star system, Alpha Centauri, has begun broadcasting radio wave communications. We are not alone, but how will me meet our cosmic neighbors? As you prepare to plan mankind's greatest undertaking, you'll be educated in fields ranging from engineering to astrophysics to biology as you prepare the first mission to another star.

S7008: Faster Than Light - An Exploration of Theoretical Spacecraft Propulsion in Spark! 2013 (Mar. 16, 2013)
Ever wonder how the The Enterprises' warp drive works, or how the Millennium Falcon could make .5 past light speed? This course will rip the science behind superluminal travel open like a wormhole in spacetime. The theory will be backed by actual physics research, with topics ranging from electromagnetism to general relativity to quantum electrodynamics to mechanical engineering. Get ready to make the jump to lightspeed!

S4918: Faster Than Light in Splash! 2011 (Nov. 19 - 20, 2011)
Hyperdrives, warp drives, wormholes, folded space-it's not just science fiction! Come learn the actual sciences behind hypothetical space travel technologies and why they could actually work outside of the pages of sci-fi and the silverscreen. You will be exposed to sciences ranging from quantum mechanics to general relativity to ecology and may even help repair the Millennium Falcon along the way.

S4938: Stellar and Star System Evolution in Splash! 2011 (Nov. 19 - 20, 2011)
From nebulous birth to cataclysmic death, come learn about the stars. Explore the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram and the Main Sequence, predict when star will die, and learn how a star can form and harbor planets. Impress your friends with your new-found knowledge of astrophysics!

W5153: Physics Circus in Splash! 2011 (Nov. 19 - 20, 2011)
Do you like playing with lasers? Ever wonder how a gyroscope moves? Magnets - how do those work? Come join us for some fun physics demos including air tracks, pendulums and experiments you can play with for yourself!

S5154: Modern Physics Lecture Blitz in Splash! 2011 (Nov. 19 - 20, 2011)
Physics is all around us. Every day we hear stories about bigger and better particle colliders, an expanding universe, and new forms of exotic matter. This course is geared at getting you up to speed on some of the newest and most exciting discoveries in modern physics. MIT's Society for Physics Students have compiled a set of lightning lectures on topics including: -Cosmology and the Big Bang -Quantum Mechanics and Particle Physics -Relativity and Gravity -Statistical Mechanics -Astrophysics Come be a part of the cutting edge of physics.

S5249: Centauri Tomorrow: Long Term Space Mission Planning in Splash! 2011 (Nov. 19 - 20, 2011)
Taught by the MIT chapter of Students for the Exploration and Development of Space, this class will detail humanity's first interstellar mission. The year: 2070. Artificially produced radio signals have been detected from the Alpha Centauri system 4.3 light years away-Humanity is no longer alone in the universe. It has become priority one for NASA to begin construction on the first manned interstellar spacecraft to establish contact with the Centaurians-how will we get there? What will the spacecraft look like? How can humans survive the decades-long journey? What will we do when we get there? Learn the answers to these questions and more-today Earth, tomorrow Centauri.

X4636: Human Space Mission Planning in Spark! 2011 (Mar. 12, 2011)
This is a highly interactive activity in which MIT Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) takes you on the journey of planning a space mission. In coming decades, humanity will return to the Moon and visit Near Earth Objects (NEOs). Engineers and scientists will work together to develop these missions, and this will not alway be easy (as you will see!). Your goal during this class is to come up with a destination for a human space mission given scientific goals and constraints such as how long a human can survive on a spacecraft or the amount of money allotted for your space mission. You will have team discussions, present your findings, offer criticisms and lead the charge into the heavens.

A3940: Rock Opera: The Definition and Legacy of an Era-Part 2 in Splash! 2010 (Nov. 20 - 21, 2010)
The second part of a two day series! Rock on! Students will partake of Pink Floyd's seminal progressive rock trip known as "The Wall." Further jiving and discussion of the rock opera afterward. Meant to be taken in conjunction with the first day's lecture on the Who's "Tommy," so unless you are familiar with "Tommy," please register for both classes-Part 1 and Part 2.

A3941: Rock Opera: The Definition and Legacy of an Era-Part 1 in Splash! 2010 (Nov. 20 - 21, 2010)
Rock Opera- quite possibly the most expressive and important form of musical arts in mankind's history. This lecture is the first of a two-day exploration of the genre "Rock Opera." This first lecture will consist of watching The Who's seminal rock opera "Tommy," followed by heavy jiving and discussion. Of course movie snacks will be provided. Note- meant as part of a two-day series, so please also register for the "Part 2" class on Sunday.

Study of Rock Opera-The Who's "Tommy" in SPLASH (2011)
Come on the Amazing Journey, and learn all you should know! An analysis of the philosophical and historical elements that ...