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Friday, July 21, 2017


Mary Ann Mort

A sense of belonging can make someone feel whole.


Saturday night found me excitedly discussing with a smacking dry mouth to the familiar strangers surrounding me. My tired feet inched along the sidewalk and the wide-eyed faces of my new acquaintances gaped as theories swirled in the air. Suddenly the wide snake of a line rippled with gasps as the silver-haired Daenerys, Khaleesi, the Mother of Dragons, etc., sashayed past in a flattering white dress. She led us into an old-timey, dimly lit room that had a wall made of ice on the right, and on the left was a magnificent pale tree with drooping branches ladened with large blood-red leaves. I could hardly believe my eyes; there was no way I was in Westeros, yet there I stood, taking in the roaring dragon and a far-off wall covered with faces.

If none of that made sense to you, and you are quite concerned for my sanity, I would be inclined to agree with you. Going to a Game of Thrones themed pop-up bar the night before the premiere of the seventh season to wait 4.5 hours to get in and 2 more hours to sit upon the Iron Throne borders on obsession.

However, being surrounded by people that were as excited as I was allowed me to find a safe place, a niche, if only for a night. I belonged with this group of people that I had never met before. I felt as if I could trust everyone there since I was just a piece of a whole.

This sense of belonging is not just something a fandom’s following feels. It’s felt by those who have something in common with a group of people. This could include the people of a nation, religion, or even school course subjects. Even the scientific community. This type of acceptance and community is extremely important, because, as I said earlier, there’s a lot of trust of the group’s followers. That trust should never be taken advantage of, but that’s not to say it has never happened - history can tell us that. But if those in the scientific community can respect the trust and give a sense of belonging to others, and then include them in scientific activities like outreach and spreading the practice of the scientific method, this community could be twofold productive. One, by being constructively useful to the advancement of science, and two, by giving the public a sense of belonging in the scientific community.


Besides an overexposure to Game of Thrones this past weekend, we got a tour and some good food from OSA (the Optical Society) on Monday. On Wednesday, a group of us interns from ACP (and Brad who drove us) went over to NIST to show off some physics demos to middle school physics and science teachers. We got to discuss the physics behind each demo and teach them the most effective way to teach their students the different areas of physics with the demos. The nice thing about these specific demos is that the materials are pretty cheap and there are directions and videos on the SPS website on how to recreate them.


Doctor Death sits upon the Iron Throne as the ruler of the Seven Kingdoms.
The Weirwood tree from the Godswood at Winterfell.
Doctor Death with Daenerys(the Mother of Dragons) and Margaery(the Ghost Queen of Westeros)
Ted Hodapp is Dumbledore in "Physics is the Liberal Arts of Engineering"
My kitten, Marcos, who is waiting for my return in California.

Mary Ann Mort