Secondment in California

by Fabrizio Aloschi

We have always been told to look to the future and never look to the past. Either because I am a romantic or just because these last two years have been so intense, I do not agree. I think at who I was before starting this amazing adventure with the ITN-INSPIRE and I truly believe that many things have changed. The world has changed indeed. I have learned a lot and I have had fun. I have also suffered. But who hasn’t, in such strange days? I still remember the day I got the admittance letter. It wasn’t true, I couldn’t believe it. And differently from what happens very often, if I think of this past experience I am still as much excited. Yes, I have to admit that this return to normality has helped. Even more so it matched perfectly with my secondment overseas in Pasadena. In the labs of Caltech, in the Southern California, in the Los Angeles County. I mean, can you believe it?

We have always been told that California is gorgeous. And I cannot disagree this time.

Me, Noa and the metal-made guy

Imagine the scene: you are walking in the hallway, and you have many things to do, you are actually overthinking. You are like “when am I going to receive the revision, I have been waiting for more than 2 months!”. Or perhaps like “who knows whether the bloody vibrometer is gonna work this time?!?”. You are still walking by the hallway, you have to go to the lab, better be quick. But you turn on the right instead of going downstairs and say, “let me first give a look at the robots”. Yes, the robots. Moving robots, dancing robots (if you are skeptical, check the video below). Here is a picture of me with Noa (Csomay-Shanklin) and our dancing friend. How could you not enjoy and just be glad to be exactly where you are? Where am I, though?

Me, Chiara (Daraio) and some pieces of metamaterials from Chiara’s LAB

I am in visiting at Chiara Daraio’s lab at Caltech, Pasadena. Just to give an idea of the primary interests of Chiara’s research group, you read on her website that “our research aims to create novel systems and new materials with unprecedented global properties; these materials are composite systems in which typically basis elements that interact are arranged in well-defined geometries, such that the aggregate system as a whole, exhibits properties that are not usually found in natural systems and can be exploited in engineering applications”. I am currently part of the “Wave Propagation” subgroup and working on an experimental investigation on the interactions between surface acoustic waves and beams in the post-buckling regime. If I had to decide what are the things I loved here, I’d say that not only has the passion and commitment of this group impressed me: it is the enthusiasm they put into their work that is incredible. And it is contagious.

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