Week 1 : Burgundy Car

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Sunday, June 5, 2022


Taylor Colaizzi

The Honda went through the gamut the week before I drove to Washington. To make sure everything was as it should be, I replaced the car's tires, poured in fresh oil, and asked the mechanics for a fine look-over. Then, I double-checked the insurance and registration paperwork before renewing my driver's license at the local DMV. Next, after I installed an E-ZPass and registered into AAA (for the peace of mind!), it was finally time to send the car on its journey. The only thing left was to wash the car and fill the tank.

I had never driven to Washington, D.C. before. Actually, I'd never driven to nor through any major U.S. city in my three years driving on American roads and highways. I was a bit nervous, since I'd heard that the 9-lane Capitol Beltway could be treacherous! But still, despite nerves holding me back, I packed my belongings, loaded some classic CD's, and treaded carefully with the aid of my cell phone's GPS. It was time to drive!

The other interns are a delightful bunch of incredibly intelligent and kind individuals who love helping others. We readily bonded (is that a chemistry joke?) and shared our stories of travel and of past physics experiences. The support from SPS and AIP is phenomenal, and I'm entirely confident knowing we're in their capable hands. This summer, these opportunities, will be transformative for us all.

I work at NIST this summer. There, I engage in technology research under Dr. Charles Cheung. My first task: convert a small digital radio into a highly-capable lock-in amplifier, which is generically an expensive piece of signal processing equipment. It sounds tricky, but the theory is simple. Radios already do the same work that lock-in amplifiers do: they extract weak signals from copious levels of background noise. The challenge will be to push the radio to its limit, to see how fast it can run and how high a frequency it can reach. This could be a project that finds its happy resolution in just a couple weeks. It could also be eternally doomed from the start. But, we don't know that yet! All we do know is the end goal, and we try to reach that with the tools in our laboratory and the determination in our hearts.

Taylor Colaizzi