Week 4

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Friday, July 5, 2013


Dayton Syme

Already past my fourth week, and coincidentally it was the Fourth of July week! I didn’t want to have any work over my 4 day weekend so I dug in and hammered through as much work as I could get done. And wonderfully enough, I finished three projects leading into Thursday.

Being in DC for the Fourth is a bit of a dream. Fiona, Jamie, Katherine, Ro, Caleb, Darren, and I went to the National Mall to see the fireworks. Much of the Mall around the Reflection Pool was fenced off, but we soon made it to an area in-between the Washington Monument and the World War Two Memorial. We arrived by about a quarter till eight, and found a nice shady spot that grew larger as the sun drew to dusk. We were greeted by a myriad of all-American tunes like the Isley Brothers’ song “Shout.”

After what felt like an eternal wait, the show began. It was dazzling; however, about two minutes in we remembered that some of us had diffraction glasses. They made the show far more wonderful, for every bright flash and sparkling ignition had its own beauty to look at; directly to each side of the blazing firework was the spectrum.

I caught a moment of surreal joy, right as the finale drew and the shockwave of each explosion smashed into me, I laughed hysterically. Not because of the explosions, but it was another moment to realize that I was in my nation’s capital, on the Fourth, being paid to do research that can have an effect on our nation’s science education policy. To me, that is the definition of fantastic and I couldn’t help but be pleased about it. That did not stop my other fellow interns from looking at me with a bewildered expression, and then start laughing themselves. I doubt for the same reason.

Leaving the Mall was a bit hectic, due to thousands of people leaving at the same time. But we decided to wait for 10 minutes and let the crowds disperse into the streets. As we were walking home, I couldn’t help but feel sad for the people who decided to try and drive their way out of the city. They had a long wait in store for themselves.

The rest of the weekend went splendidly. I had a chance to explore the Smithsonian Natural History Museum and see the Butterfly Exhibit, then to the folklife festival on the Mall. I walked farther down to the Botanical Gardens – which smelled amazing. I finished my traveling with a quick visit to the Air and Space Museum, which is always a great place for a physicist to visit. I do plan on going to that museum at least a couple of more times and seeing an IMAX movie or two.

To finish off my vacation I cooked some four tortillas and made some cheddar quesadillas with them, then later I made a Tres Leches cake. It was all very delicious and should save me from spending money in this super expensive town. At least I hope it will.

Dayton Syme