Week 3: Science in the Dark

Share This:

Sunday, June 15, 2014


Kelby Peterson

One of the expected aspects of research is long hours in the lab crossing your fingers hoping your experiment will work; then of course cursing your stupid mistakes when it doesn't. One aspect of research I didn't expect was to be doing all that in the dark. When your samples are photosensitive you must memorize where all the knobs and buttons are, and always remember where you set down your pen.

This week's research has been all about learning the machines, troubleshooting the errors, and when I do get it right trying to understand what the data is telling me. A couple broken practice samples and 10's of runs later and I'm starting get the hang of it, I think. Next week is exciting because after I spend my weekend reading papers about it I get learn a whole new technique and hopefully get one step closer to being able to build our device.

Washington Monument during the Astronomy FestivalLast weekend was a blast! Friday night we went out to dinner and then an astronomy festival with the SPS Executive Committee. It was really fun to get to meet all the people who make the big decisions for all our little SPS chapters; it really puts in perspective just how big the national SPS organization really is. Saturday was a fun adventure with some of the other interns, exploring the Natural History Museum, getting free things at the Capital Pride Parade, and hanging out as a group. Sunday was the best of all though; SPS set us up to do demos at a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math) festival where we got to help teach and get kids excited about physics and use some of the SOCK (Science Outreach Catalyst Kits) activities of years past.

It is a wholly new environment to be learning so much, to have so many fun things to do, and to have so many nerdy people to talk to. I still haven’t quite adjusted (though I’m not sure I truly ever will) but I’m enjoying the experience for sure.

Kelby Peterson