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Friday, June 9, 2017


Mary Ann Mort

*Translates from Spanish to two

**My last name, Mort, translates from French to death. I joke around saying that if I get my PhD, I will be Dr. Mort, aka Dr. Death. And I will build a spaceship and name it the Death Star.


This last week has been ablaze with so many things. Since last Friday, I went to the National Mall(twice), an actual mall(thrice), a folk festival, and some intriguing eateries.

National Mall Part One was because SPS participated in Hofstra University’s Astronomy on the Mall night. We had a couple of tables with several demos(singing tubes, gravity well), physics trivia, and of course swag. Surrounding us were several telescopes setup to view the sun, moon, stars, and galaxies to entice passerbys. At our table, we even had a couple high school students from the 2017 US Physics Team stop by.

National Mall Part Two happened by chance Sunday evening when a friend who just graduated in Applied Physics from my school, Sacramento State, was in D.C. for his orientation for the Peace Corps before they flew off to Liberia! It was exciting to meet a bunch of recent noble, chivalrous, brilliant STEM graduates off to teach a part of the world that needs their inspiration. My friend, Anthony Asuega, seen in a picture below, got a chance to visit the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, and other memorials around “the mall.” According to our Uber driver, going at dusk like we did is the best, after he picked us up when we were solidly lost after visiting the White House.

Saturday, I had the chance to spend time with the other interns at the Tyson’s Corner mall, while on Sunday we traversed to Glen Echo Park for the Folk Festival, where there was plenty of music(all kinds), storytelling, dancing, and glassblowing demos.

During the past week we’ve also been on the lookout for quarters(the only accepted form of payment to our washer and dryer) and good places to eat(I tried a sushi burrito for the first time![It was pretty great.]). We also had the pleasure of evacuating from our loft at 12:30AM due to the beautiful fire alarm; whether it was from someone dabbing too hard, or freshmen burning popcorn, we might never know.

On Wednesday, a few of the interns and I went to a cute bookshop near the Eastern Market for a book reading and conversation of “Intergalactic Travel Bureau Vacation Guide to the Solar System.” The authors, Olivia Koski and Jana Grcevich, who both studied physics as undergrads, promoted their book and their other efforts to educate the public about space and what it’s really like out there. There was also a special appearance from Lori Garver, former NASA Deputy Administrator under Barack Obama, who almost was the “first soccer mom in space” as a space tourist.

This week in the APS office has been quite lonely, since my mentor spent the week at a conference in Sacramento(my home!). However, I was still able to get a jumpstart on the “Startup Stories” I will be writing on the innovation and entrepreneurship of physics majors who are working towards or who have created their own startups. I interviewed three people who fall in this category and their projects are all really interesting and could change some of the technology in our future.


Astronomy on the Mall with all the interns!
Eleanor, Francisco, Sam, and I at Tyson's Corner mall.
A glassblowing demonstration at the Folk Festival.
Anthony and I before he left for Liberia with the Peace Corps.
The grand Lincoln Memorial at dusk.
Some of the interns with Olivia Koski, Jana Grcevich, and Lori Garver.
The 2017 U.S. Physics Team (high school students).

Mary Ann Mort