Week 1: Going Down Rabbit Holes

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Thursday, June 7, 2018


Kristen Larson

This week has already been off to a great start. We began with orientation and building tours, and then by the afternoon we were off to our individual placements. I am the Niels Bohr Library and Archives Intern for the next 10 weeks and my primary responsibility is to create a museum-style exhibit to highlight the human side of physics using the fascinating photographs, oral history interviews, archival collections and books from the library and archives collections. So as part of that process I was prompted by library staff members, Sarah Cochrane and Amanda Nelson, to research a variety of topics for the next week at which point we will discuss what I found and as a group decide which topic to feature in our exhibit spaces within the American Center for Physics building.

To begin Sarah and Amanda took the History interns (Mikayla, Stephanie and I) on an in-depth tour of the library and archives areas. While in the archives we happened upon a gem, Richard Feynman’s Calculus notebook [fn1]!

Over the next few days, I poured over a few different topics, each requiring its own rabbit hole. I spent hours in the library reading/skimming books and then even more hours going through personal notebooks and audio files from the archives. While I was looking through the personal papers of Andrew Gemant [fn2], I noticed something familiar. Every summer, for as long as I can remember, I have gone to the Michigan Upper Peninsula (commonly known as the U.P.) to visit my extended family in Marquette. With a population of approximately 20k, it is not particularly well-known, so imagine my surprise when I recognized the unmistakable Iron Ore Dock and Sunset Point (both views from Presque Isle). It was a nice change of pace to take a minute and reflect on some fun family memories at those locations. I wonder, what took him to the U.P.?

By Thursday, those of us that requested fitness center access were able to begin using the gym. My roommate Amanda and I decided against working out IN the gym and instead opted to bike to work from the GW campus. Biking to work and having the option to get ready in the locker rooms was a fantastic perk and now I am glad that I brought my bike with me from Chicago. During our commute we were able to see beautiful views of Maryland and a deer grazing in somebody's front lawn.

Well that’s it for me this week, back to the stacks!

fn1: Collection #AR295, Richard Feynman Papers, American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library & Archives, College Park, MD 20740, USA.

fn2: Collection #AR254, Box 7, Folder 15, Andrew Gemant Papers, American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library & Archives, College Park, MD 20740, USA.

Richard Feynman's Notebook, Front Cover
Richard Feynman's Notebook
Andrew Gemant's Sept '52 Drawing of the Iron Ore Dock on the Shore of Lake Superior
Andrew Gemant's Sept '52 Drawing of Sunset Point on Presque Isle
Me, Bike Commuting to Work Through Maryland
Amanda and I High-Fiving at the Spiral Sculpture in Front of the ACP Building, posing with our bikes

Kristen Larson