Do it for Baltimore!

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Sunday, July 2, 2023


Tiffany Liou

Ahh, I can’t believe we are halfway through the program! I am now sitting once again at Tatte with a little iced americano and tiramisu cup to write about one of the most eventful weeks yet. To sum up this week in three words: AGNs, space, and trains. 

I suppose everything I am doing is related to space, so perhaps I cheated a little in my three descriptors. Here’s something interesting though, and I think it is a sign. For almost every day this week, I have encountered something about AGNs, or active galactic nucleis. 

It started out on Monday, when MJ and I studied at a cafe near Dupont Circle. I was sorting through some spectra from MUSE DR2 and there was this one spectrum that caught my attention. Not only was it so clean, it had a large lyman alpha absorption and other interesting emission lines. Upon some searching, it was an AGN! Later that night, a group of interns went to Astronomy on Tap. I was really excited to learn that Astronomy on Tap was also a thing here in DC because it is one of my favorite ways to learn about the cosmos. There were a total of three speakers who talked about the chaotic mechanisms of the Sun’s magnetic field, the quest for exoplanets, and the theoretical physics of AGNs and black holes. During the talk about AGNs, I was so surprised I was able to follow the equations about general relativity, and that I had absorbed a solid amount of information from my black holes and GR class. 


Tuesday definitely defined my week. I left bright and early in the morning (7 am) on my journey to STScI in Baltimore! Man, I was so excited that I forgot I wanted to nap on the train ride there. I am glad I didn’t fall asleep though because the greenery outside was so beautiful. As I approached Baltimore, I just HAD to play one of my favorite songs “For Baltimore” by All Time Low. When else will I get such an appropriate chance to listen to it? When I arrived at STScI, after getting lost for 20 minutes on the Johns Hopkins campus, I was greeted by Dr. Kumari. She introduced me to some of her colleagues and her intern from the STScI SASP program. It was so amazing to meet everyone in person! Later in the day, I attend a galaxy journal club. The topic this week was… AGNs! At this point, this must be a sign that I should start studying AGNs. 


Wednesday and Thursday were a little more chill. I definitely had to recover from the 4 hour total commute on Tuesday. On Wednesday, I learned that three laps around the AI​​P building is equivalent to one mile! 

On Friday, Ruthie gave us a tour of the US Capitol and the place where science committee hearings happen. We even walked through an underground tunnel to get from one building to another. While walking through the capitol building, I can’t help but wonder how the architects came up with such a sophisticated design and how they even built such a beautiful structure. The rotunda was especially one of the most amazing sights I have seen in DC! Thanks Ruthie for giving us such a wonderful and insightful tour! Another thing on Friday, is that I tried Taco Bell for the first time! Bless Devin’s soul for letting me experience the wonders of a Mexican pizza. This was truly the American dream~ 

As if doing research on space wasn’t enough for a daily dosage of the cosmos, Jenna, Ruthie, MJ, and I visited the Air and Space Museum on Saturday! To be honest, half of the time I was trying to hold in my tears. There is just something about the background music in documentaries that make me want to sob. We saw really cool exhibits about the moon, the planets, and Apollo 11. One of the most exciting parts ,though, was discovering that there was an extra floor of the gift shop. I probably spent half my time enabling MJ to get more space socks. After walking around the museum, I decided to make a side quest to Chinatown so I could eat some noodles. After being away from home for so long, I was craving some beef noodle soup. The fact that it began pouring outside while I was eating just made the experience even better! 


Week 5 was such an eventful week and I truly cannot believe that we are so far into this program. We are halfway there and we are still going strong! 

Till next time ~ 


Tiffany Liou