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Humans of Harker: A Saganist worldview

Cameron Jones asks the big questions

%E2%80%9CAbout+100+years+ago%2C+we+didn%E2%80%99t+know+what+general+relativity+was.+Then%2C+in+1915%2C+Einstein+proposed+it+in+a+conference.+And+since+then%2C+our+understanding+of+physics+has+changed+drastically.+Even+in+that+relatively+short+period+of+time%2C+looking+at+how+much+our+knowledge+has+changed%2C+it+inspires+me+to+be+part+of+that+next+move%2C+that+next+wave+of+understanding%2C%E2%80%9D+Cameron+Jones+%2812%29+said.
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Humans of Harker: A Saganist worldview

“About 100 years ago, we didn’t know what general relativity was. Then, in 1915, Einstein proposed it in a conference. And since then, our understanding of physics has changed drastically. Even in that relatively short period of time, looking at how much our knowledge has changed, it inspires me to be part of that next move, that next wave of understanding,” Cameron Jones (12) said.

“About 100 years ago, we didn’t know what general relativity was. Then, in 1915, Einstein proposed it in a conference. And since then, our understanding of physics has changed drastically. Even in that relatively short period of time, looking at how much our knowledge has changed, it inspires me to be part of that next move, that next wave of understanding,” Cameron Jones (12) said.

Aditya Singhvi

“About 100 years ago, we didn’t know what general relativity was. Then, in 1915, Einstein proposed it in a conference. And since then, our understanding of physics has changed drastically. Even in that relatively short period of time, looking at how much our knowledge has changed, it inspires me to be part of that next move, that next wave of understanding,” Cameron Jones (12) said.

Aditya Singhvi

Aditya Singhvi

“About 100 years ago, we didn’t know what general relativity was. Then, in 1915, Einstein proposed it in a conference. And since then, our understanding of physics has changed drastically. Even in that relatively short period of time, looking at how much our knowledge has changed, it inspires me to be part of that next move, that next wave of understanding,” Cameron Jones (12) said.

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Cameron Jones (12), wearing a black sweatshirt adorned with the Harker CTF logo, stares intently at his screen with glasses-framed eyes, constructing the applications that many students now take for granted. Whether it be a student council election that uses the voting system he helped write or the lottery to determine parking spots for juniors and seniors, his contributions have had an unmistakable impact on school life.

Cameron began programming when he was eight years old, with his grandfather teaching him programming in C using an Arduino, a type of microcontroller. Since then, he has taught himself several programming languages and has worked on numerous applications.

“What draws me to computer science is the freedom that it gives you. You’re not limited by the speed of the human mind, so you’re given infinite possibilities to explore the world around you through data or through really complex logic,” Cameron said. “Something that you spend a little bit of time on can be super powerful.”

Cameron, along with close friend Johnny Wang (12), founded two computer science-related Harker clubs: Harker CTF, which hosts an annual cybersecurity competition, and H-Crypt, which develops applications for everyday usage.

“He was [always] a strong programmer but he was more of a haphazard developer. He would throw things together in the most random way and they worked,” computer science teacher and faculty advisor for both of Cameron’s organizations Anu Datar said. “I saw a big change towards the end of his junior year and even now when he’s way more organized and he thinks things through. He spends more time on getting a good structure in place before actually starting to work.”

Johnny also commented on Cameron’s work ethic, poking fun at the extremes of his enthusiasm for a project.

“We were working on a product and he got really interested and he pretty much pulled an all-nighter to work on it. I told him to just chill [and that] we could finish this over a few days. But he was like ‘Nah, let’s do it now,’” Johnny said. “But when he’s not interested, he’s not going to write a single line of code.”

This attitude toward programming hints at the central motivation that drives most of Cameron’s pursuits—intellectual curiosity. Whether it be traveling, his annual science fair projects or an “absolute disrespect for alternative medicine,” according to close friend Raymond Banke (12), Cameron believes in a scientific perusal of the world modeled on the skeptic, empirical thinking of American astronomer Carl Sagan.

“He was filling out a Stanford application essay form, and they were asking for five words that describe yourself, and one of them he wanted to use was ‘Saganist.’ His beliefs really align with Carl Sagan and he really likes to question the validity of something based on its scientific accuracy, based on that logical truth,” Raymond Banke (12), one of Cameron’s closest friends, said.

This pursuit of the scientific method has materialized in Cameron’s research, as he has competitively participated in science fairs for about eight years. He has won several awards, beginning with a sixth grade project that made him a Broadcom MASTERS finalist. The project worked as a robotic gripper that required no prior information about the object it picked up and yet worked without a single algorithm.

“My project was dead simple: it used coffee grounds in a balloon and a vacuum pump. Those on their own seem kind of stupid, honestly, but combining them together in that project taught me how practical things can be used,” Cameron said.

Cameron’s diverse fields of interest — whether it be old sci-fi classics, astrophotography or research — have combined into his ultimate passion: aerospace engineering. Ever since he was young, Cameron closely followed the NASA missions and rovers to Mars; now, he has an admiration for Elon Musk and SpaceX and is working on analyzing astronomical spectra with machine learning for a Regeneron research paper.

“When molecules are excited, they will emit light at very specific frequencies in the infrared spectrum,” Cameron said. “So the idea is that by looking at data from stars or planets you can figure out the composition of atmospheres or gas clouds in space and learn a lot about our universe.”

The sheer volume of what humans do not know about the universe encourages Cameron to pursue his scientific inclinations.  

“About 100 years ago, we didn’t know what general relativity was. Then, in 1915, Einstein proposed it in a conference. And since then, our understanding of physics has changed drastically. Even in that relatively short period of time, looking at how much our knowledge has changed, it inspires me to be part of that next move, that next wave of understanding,” Cameron said.

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Humans of Harker: A Saganist worldview