Week 6: What the Other Interns Are Doing

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Wednesday, July 8, 2015


Rachel Odessey

I took a well-needed break from DC at the start of the week to catch up with friends from high school before diving back into work for the week; I finally got to see the new Pixar movie (and as with any good Pixar movie, cried my eyes out). On Monday, all of us SPS interns got to take a tour of the American Center for Physics, where Connor, Shauna, Hannah, Patrick, Aman, and Brean have been working and they told us all about their projects. The coolest place in the tour was definitely the archives, with some artifacts Connor and Brean had put out for us. My favorite theme of the tour, however, was the different ways in which physics interacts with the ‘real world’ through the different projects the interns have been doing. I definitely believe that the discovery and beauty that physics can evoke are some of the best parts of learning physics; still, science is only as useful as far as it can impact people’s lives, whether to share the beauty of it, inspire people to learn about physics, or spread the tangible benefits that physics can produce—so outreach is very important. A lot of the ACP interns are working on educational projects—connecting science departments at different high schools with each other, putting together kits to teach people about the connections between physics and music, research into important women in the history of physics—and it was fun to imagine how they might inspire students and other members of the public to engage with physics. It’s definitely reminded me of the amazing physics teachers that I have been lucky enough to learn from and the real difference it makes to be able to put science in real world context—whether it’s through a demonstration that shows how physics rules the conversations we have and the music we listen to, or a reminder that, although physics is still pretty highly dominated by men, women have accomplished some pretty amazing things in the field. 

It was a quiet week at Goddard—I’m working on removing some atmospheric error from some data we have on Eta Carinae, since the data we’re working with was captured by a ground-based telescope in Chile. Water and other elements of Earth's atmosphere appeared as big absorption components right in a key section of our data, and they're proving difficult to remove.My mentor, Ted, had his last day before retirement on Tuesday, so I’ll only see him on Skype while he’s off in Canada enjoying the retiree life for the rest of the summer. Friday we had off, to observe Independence Day since it falls on a Saturday this year, and I caught Korean barbecue at Union Market for brunch with a friend from high school before some particularly rewarding thrift shopping around U Street. Looking forward to the festivities this weekend!

Rachel Odessey