Week 5: Humidity and Humility

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Friday, July 6, 2018


Phoebe Sharp

I swim to work. I swore that no summer could be worse than a summer in Memphis. Being right on the Mississippi river, going to work everyday was like breathing in water. My glasses would fog up when I would step out of my car. I would almost sprint to the entrance to escape the brutal humidity that would jeopardize my curls that day. But DC is a whole other beast. I feel like I swim to work, holding my breath to keep the cool air in me rather than let the humidity have it. Who knew that fogged glasses and 20 degree temperature differences between the inside and the outside were common in places above Tennessee?

Humidity is disorienting. You walk into this wall of wet when we leave our dorms in the morning, and you start to question why your hands are sticky. Why is it that when it feels so hot and gross outside that everyone still seems to move so slowly?

Humility on the other hand seems to be the opposite. It requires a lot of attention. How can you still be humble and not brag about yourself too much, and yet somehow convince others around you that are competent and able to do a job? That’s what it took to get this internship. Somehow, we all had to sacrifice a little humility to show SPS National that we want this internship, and we deserve to be here, whether or not the humidity of imposter syndrome hit you before or after your acceptance.

DC is not a very humble place. It feels very boastful in its atmosphere. With all of the statues, fancy people in suits, and demonstrations, it invokes an unintelligible air of superiority that civilians walk through in a hurry. That’s how physics appears to be from those that have written of this field of study.

“How could I ever understand what Einstein theorized?”

“Why do I need to know what a bunch of theoretical physicists do in their windowless offices all day now when I didn’t need to know it high school?”

Physics is this wall of humidity that people run through to get to their chilled offices. It’s the fog that blinds those with glasses until they consciously have to clean them in order to see through. It’s what makes my hair curly.

Maybe we shouldn’t run to our offices or immediately wipe away the fog from our glasses. Why don’t we just stand and observe our hands being sticky? Physics is a messy subject; your hands will get sticky. This internship challenges those instincts to be in a cooler place. We have to stop and smell the roses of our time as physicists and be humble. We have to take away this unintelligible air of superiority that physics has surrounding it (like an electron cloud) and help those willing to appreciate it too. Encourage them to stop and notice their sticky hands.

Humility is a rare gift that all of us as interns seems to wield in our favor; we stop and show our humility in the humidity that is Physics.

What I see coming home from a long day of work. Lincoln to my right. Washington to my left.
Neighborhood Physics Deer taking a break from his de(er)avations.
Preview of the sock
Gives Amanda the sock she is working on. "Amanda is a free elf!"

Phoebe Sharp