We've really gotten to know each other over the past month. Back in May, two large side-by-side screens welcomed me into the lab and provided me with a workspace of my own for the rest of the summer. What started as intermittent flirting has flourished into a full-fledged commitment. We went from seeing each other occasionally throughout the week to spending entire days face-to-face, cultivating an intimate relationship that makes us nearly inseparable. Except when my butt, back, and neck get sore from sitting in this stupid chair and I get sick of working on fixing the same few lines of code for four hours straight and I start staring out the window wondering how loud the crash would be if I threw one of these screens out of it.
I believe I've hit the stage in my internship where, now that I have a full grasp of what I'm doing and have jumped into the real work for the summer, things are getting a little rough. My computer and I are definitely out of our "honeymoon phase," and, as in all successful relationships, we'll have to get past our rough patches if we want to become a strong, dynamic power couple. Okay, reading that back just now I realize how weird it is that I referred to myself and my computer as a power couple. I guess what I'm trying to say is that a huge portion of my work this summer will be done at my computer because of the type of data I'm working with. My dataset this summer came to the lab as a hard drive loaded with thousands of files. These have all been downloaded to my computer and contain a record of all infrasound and seismic signals from the Socorro array throughout the months it was functional starting in 2010. So, it's a lot of data to go through, which is why my computer and I have been spending so much time together recently.
First, I did a visual sort through all of the signals to look for big events. For this project, I'm mostly interested in distinct events, like explosions, that produce strong, easily detectable signals. These are sure to be picked up by all microphones at the array and will provide the clearest data to work with. To find these events, I used a program called SEISSIG, written by my adviser, which reads in the files and allows me to look through a continuous feed of collected signals. In small increments (minutes at a time) I paged through four years worth of signals. Translated: I clicked through page after page of wiggly lines and picked out the ones that looked like explosions. Once all of these "picks" were saved, I could begin the actual analysis of my data. The bulk of the work I'll be doing this summer will be in R. Using R, I can write my own functions to manipulate the data in ways I see useful. Since returning from New Mexico, I've written a code to sort through the signals I've picked and get rid of any overlaps (ones I may have picked out twice by accident). This shortened my list of picks, but not as much as I'd hoped--I don't want to further analyze thousands of picks when I don't have to, so sorting now is to my advantage. I created another code to examine the signal-to-noise ratio of each signal and sort out the ones with low ratios. Major events like explosions will be very strong and occur very suddenly, so they have a very high signal-to-noise ratio. By eliminating any picks that have low ratios, I've created a more accurate and manageable list to continue working with. With my final list of picks for each year, I'll use another program created by my adviser called SWIG to, again, visually examine the signals. This time, I'll locate and save arrival times of the waves which can be used in my celerity calculation. For other seismologists, SWIG is very similar to SAC except for a few additional buttons and different formatting of data.
Like I said, I've been spending a lot of time at my computer trying to work through these programs and teach myself as much as I can. My adviser has been super helpful, answering questions when I need help and generally pointing me in the right direction. Programming is so much more than just learning how to code--for me, it's been more of an exercise in learning how to think logically, which is challenging but (I never thought I'd say it) weirdly enjoyable. So, even though things seem rough now, I don't plan on breaking off the relationship I've established with my computer any time soon.
You must be logged in to post a comment.