Sunday, July 10, 2022By:
This week, I am writing this blog post from my new spot along the Potomac! Rock Creek park extends near our apartment building, and it has become one of my favorite spaces to come run or just hang out. The sunset here is beautiful, and the people-watching is even better.
First, for work, I have been editing the Katherine Clerk Maxwell teaching guide, finishing changes to the draft of Émilie du Châtelet's guide, and beginning my outreach projects for both!
I finalized edits for Katherine Clerk Maxwell's teaching guide early this week, emailing out to get permissions for photos that I included in it. In order to publish guides with photos it is necessary to get permissions from any creators or host sites of the photos. I honestly think that it is really interesting to reach out to these kinds of sources to acquire their permission because of the opportunity that it presents to start conversations with those that I may not have otherwise had the opportunity to talk to. Through this job, I have reached out to a few expert researchers and archives, such as the Cavendish Library from Cambridge University, and some other researchers from Europe. It has been an honor to email with some of these scholars, who have been nothing but kind with freely sharing their research with me! This comes as a special thanks to Professor Bruce J. Hunt from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a distinguished scholar of James Maxwell's life, writer of 'The Maxwellians,' fellow at APS, and all around generous researcher. When I inquired about Katherines life, Professor Hunt not only responded immediately despite being in a different country without any of his work resources, but he also gave me lengthy and honest intel about everything on his research, without expecting any kind of recognition in return. This is a huge thank you to him for all his help and generosity, as well as to the other archives that I corresponded with!
I also finished the draft for du Châtelet's guide early this week. I have to say, this guide was much easier and more creative than Katherines as I had the experience of one teaching guide under my belt, and her work is far more accessible than any of Katherines. Whereas the research for Katherines guide involved weeks of painstakingly sorting through primary sources and correspondence of her husband, desperately looking for the breadcrumb trail of her life, there is much more readily available research on Émilie's work.
At the end of the week, I also met with my wonderful mentors to discuss some potential outreach projects. Since I am finishing up with my teaching guides, I am transitioning into the second half of this internship. This half will focus on outreach in terms of expanding education and awareness of the two women that I have researched. To do this, I am going to write a Physics Today article for Katherine, and I am planning on doing something relating to the representation of science in art with a play called 'Legacy of Light' involving du Châtelet that Jack Hehn told me about (though I will be working on Émilie at a later date, first focusing on Katherine's article and finalizing the teaching guides). At the moment, the plan for the Physics Today article will be to use my experience with researching Katherine Clerk Maxwell as a case study to illustrate the topic of partners and invisible technicians in research. I am planning on narrating the article with what it was like to attempt to pick through primary sources relating to James in an effort to uncover what role Katherine played in her husband's work. The explanation of this experience will lead into the (disappointing) findings that there really just does not seem to be any good documented accounts of Katherine, then describing how this is a common occurrence among other partners of science researchers. There are many other cases where similar instances have happened, when the partners and friends around researchers often end up doing the labor parts of research (such as typing manuscripts, stoking fires for heat experiments, etc). People in these positions, where they are helping with essential laborious aspects of research, but are (likely) not technically doing the actual mathematics or theory, often do not get any credit for their efforts. I will write more about the credibility of partners of scientists in my next blog post, as I am delving further into my article! If you are interested in the idea of how these laborer's in science don't end up getting credibility, as well as some reflections on how society views cases like this of skilled workers, I would highly recommend reading the philosopher Steven Shapin's article 'The Invisible Technician.' I am planning on basing some of my article on this, and it is a very interesting read!
In terms of more broad work for the internship, things are most definitely picking up. We have a few deadlines for abstracts, presentations, and conferences relating to our work this summer coming up far too soon, so I am sure next week will be extremely busy. As interns, we are given a wonderful opportunity to get financial support in order to present our work at a conference of our choosing. This is extremely exciting, and it is something that will be new to me in the context of my current job. At this point, I only have experience presenting work in the context of physics research, rather than the context of education and history research, so it is all very much new to me. I am not yet sure what kind of conference I would go to for my work, and it will most certainly be a learning curve to dip into history and education that I am looking forward to.
To start the week outside of work, Monday was Independence day! Though I sure don't agree with recent action in the United States, we still had obligations to explore what was going on in the nation's capital. We spent the morning at the parade, stopping for lunch at Duke's grocery after, and making our way down to the National Monument to get a great space to watch the fireworks. Though no parade in DC so far has held a candle to the Pride Parade so far, the fireworks were pretty fantastic! It was a great time to hang out with everyone while waiting for the show, and I am forever grateful that the heat wasn't too unbearable.
Next, Tuesday brought work, a wonderful show at the Embassy of Columbia, and some Dungeons and Dragons! Janessa, Ben, and their mentors all went to a work lunch, and were kind enough to invite me along as well. I feel no shame in quoting Brad's response to be not being able to go to the lunch because I did actually have to work, where he said "It’s a work lunch. Work is paying. It's literally work. During work. For work." (Conrad, 2022). After the busy day, Lucy, Taylor, Justin and I all went to the Embassy of Columbia to watch the debut of a small film on the culture of Pupusas from El Salvador, as well as try some fresh pupusas and horchata ourselves (which were both absolutely delicious, unique, ad something that I need to have again). The film was directed by Héctor Mojica, called 'Las Pupusas,' and though I don't speak Spanish, I absolutely loved the experience and appreciated the night. When we got back to consignment (my room), D&D was in full swing, and we just pulled up a few more chairs.
On Wednesday, the kayaking event was postponed due to storms, so we stayed in for some bread-baking and movie watching after work instead. Thursday came with the release of a Marvel movie, so, naturally, most of us attended the premier, and we all agree that the movie was a blast.
Friday brought our weekly intern happy hour catch-up and Mario Kart night, where Nicole's cousin and his roommate were able to join us! I do love this weekly tradition... and we all love the $5 tater tots deal at Quigleys as a break from DC's high prices.
Saturday was a rainy and dark day, calling for a very wet run and even more movies with friends. On Sunday, I went to the Romanian Festival on the Wharf to try some Romanian food and watch traditional song and dance. I had some delicious fig desserts, and loved seeing the cultural performances! Most of us gathered at night for our second delicious potluck of the internship after I got back! I love spending casual time like this with the interns, and sharing food and games is the best way to do that. Everyone has been showing off some incredible culinary skills at the potlucks, with Peruvian dishes, roasts, and some amazing banana caramel desserts!
This coming week I have a couple more fun things planned that I am looking forward to-- see you next week!