Week 4: The Other Side of Science

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Friday, June 28, 2013


Darren McKinnon

Science. Last week I got a taste of the excitement. This week, however, it seemed I was destined to round out my scientific experience. I found myself trudging through a large bundle of data. I had run a number of datacubes through the program that we’ve been using. I now had four different versions of each datacube. Each datacube consists of 51 images. It was my joyful experience to trudge through each of these images looking at the four different types side by side. There were interesting aspects, don’t get me wrong. However, things really dragged for a while. My mentor was gone this week on vacation, so I was dealing with a few others in the group. I worked back through the papers that I had been given at the beginning, and I was surprised to see how much better I understood them. Let’s not confuse that with completely understanding them; that will be a long way off yet. On Thursday I met with one of the group members, Tom, and we Skyped in with a collaborator in the Netherlands. Nicola, a graduate student in the Netherlands, has been working to reconstruct a portion of what we see when looking at Eta Carinae. It was very interesting chatting with him and seeing what he was doing. I will begin working to help with this portion of the project sometime early next week.

Thursday night, we all gathered together at the American Center for Physics for a reception with the American Institute of Physics Directors Board. It was a lot of fun meeting with the people who help support the internship. We had a lot of chances to use our “elevator speech,” a quick half-minute or so synopsis of who we are and what we’re doing.

As for home life, I had the delicious experience of checking out Ben’s Chili Bowl. This famous grill states that only Barack Obama and Bill Cosby eat for free, and judging by the pictures hung on the wall, it appears that both of them have. It was a nice change of pace finding something delightful for both my wallet and my taste buds. A few of us also took a lovely trip down the river on a pirate ship. Pirate ship is being a bit liberal here… it was more of a tug boat with a couple of fake masts. The boat looked fantastic though, and we had a lot of fun. We even met another physicist on board! It was a lovely little trip to round off the evening.

Darren McKinnon