Week 3: Baltimore, Baseball, and Binary Stars

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Monday, June 15, 2015


Rachel Odessey

Congressional baseball game

It’s hard to believe that three weeks of the summer have gone by already, when it still feels like I just started. I have been so unbelievably busy the last few weeks that the time has flown by.

The fast pace of the week started early on Sunday, when with Aman, Véronica, and Max I went up to Baltimore for the Space Telescope Science Institute STEMfest, where we put on a booth demonstrating the effects of mass and gravitational attraction on the fabric of spacetime—using a piece of Spandex and marbles of different sizes. There were kids of all different ages there, from elementary schoolers who were really excited about throwing marbles at each other and stealing each others’ ‘planets’ out of their orbits, to middle-and-high schoolers who got very invested in the demonstration and wanted to know how exactly how well the fabric represented spacetime, and although the whole day was exhausting, it was wonderful to see the kids so excited about physics and about learning about the world.

Work, as well, picked up the pace this week—as I work more independently on the scripts and analyses I’m doing, I’ve started to understand much more the nature of the questions the scientists I work with are asking and how we’re trying to use this data to answer them. Of course, as so often happens in research, the things I have figured out have opened up into even more questions so I remain, as ever, mystified but excited. The most interesting part of the week was to sit in on a conference call Friday and listen to scientists across four different countries all talk about their research into Eta Carinae— and then have them actually talk about the work that I had been doing! And then, as if NASA didn’t seem cool enough, we rounded out the week with a retirement party for Ted—with, of course, an Eta Carinae cake.

I did get to relax a little for the week—walked around the monuments all lit up at night, and then the next day off to the Congressional baseball game. In a Nationals Park far more low-key than usual, I, along with the other SPS interns, relaxed in the second row by the third baseline to watch our esteemed members of Congress play baseball. The Democrats won handily over the Republicans, breaking the series tie for the annual game. 

Still, I’m looking forward to relaxing a little more this weekend before I get back to my adventures with Eta Carinae.


eta carinae cake

Rachel Odessey