Week 5: Getting to Know Each Other

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Sunday, June 29, 2014


Kelby Peterson

Ashley, Simon and I "Touring Texas" at Safeway's National BBQ BattleI'm impressed with whoever picked the size of the SPS intern group. Though it may not have been intentional, 12 is a great number of students to throw together for a summer. We are just small enough that we can all know each other pretty personally and do things as a whole group easily. Yet we are also just large enough that we can split into mini groups based on interest. There always seems to be someone willing to do things with you. This weekend I took full advantage of that. A couple of us spent Saturday afternoon wandering the National Archives, exploring the nation's history through documents and other saved treasures. Then at my insistence we met up with more interns to go see the How to Train Your Dragon 2 movie (absolutely adorable movie by the way!). Sunday most of us adventured to Safeway's National BBQ Battle. It was a blast, so much free food and giveaways, no matter which booth I wanted to wander to there was always someone willing to tag along.

Our week nights have been fun as well. This week 8 of us adventured to the Argonaut together to compete in their weekly Science Night. Science Night consists of 3 parts, a trivia competition, an 'experiment' portion, and a best team name competition. Our team; Let Us Atom, had a blast and miraculously managed to win all 3 competitions (only the second team to ever do that!).

This week wasn't all socializing, NIST was full of it's own excitement. I spent most of my week optimizing my exfoliation procedures to attempt to get mono-layered materials for our experiment. Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) measurements showed my mechanically exfoliated (fancy speak for the playing with tape technique I mentioned last week) samples weren't getting quite thin enough to be mono-layered. I started researching a method of liquid exfoliation and adapting the procedure for our material. Hopefully this method will prove more successful.

I was also lucky enough to be invited on a tour of NIST's nuclear reactor facilities. Now that was an impressive lab. This lab was literally one gigantic warehouse room stuffed full of random scientific equipment. Countless different experiments were going on all at once; you could barely tell when you walked into the next experiment since they were all crammed in there. It was impressive the things they were able to detect and come to understand from these neutrons. It was funny too because everyone always worries about radiation from these sorts of reactors, yet there I was touring the facility and my dosimeter had no measurable detection by the time I was done. It really is impressive how well contained and controlled these types of things are. Science impresses and surprises me every day.

Kelby Peterson