Week 7: Astro-tastic!

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Monday, July 25, 2016


Marissa Murray

Monday and Tuesday were spent working on and finishing up my FYI about the new basic energy research and NIST legislation.  It was published Tuesday morning and you can check it out here: https://www.aip.org/fyi/2016/house-passes-basic-energy-research-bills-an.... I've been learning more about how to use drupal (how to publish the article on the website) and dotmailer (how to send it out to the FYI subscribers and look at the metrics).  

Tuesday afternoon I attended a series of coalition meetings (ESC, CNSR, and CNSR) with Mitch, Mike, Will and Jen.  I had attended the June meetings for these coalitions last month.  While some of the topics were similar or continuations from last time, this time around each coalition brought in a guest speaker from DOE, DOD, or NSF.

On Wednesday I journeyed over to NASA HQ in the morning to listen in on the Astrophysics Subcommittee Update meeting.  This summer I've been attending a broad spectrum of events and meetings, and it was interesting to see and hear how budget cuts trickle down and, in this case, affect specific missions and programs in NASA, within the astrophsyics field. There was a debate about making some cuts to the post-doc program for astronomy and, instead, reallocating that money to general astro R&A.  Many subcommittee members were strongly against this idea. That afternoon I headed over to the American Astronomical Society event to meet the other interns, where we ate some pizza and heard from the head of AAS, Dr. Mather on the James Webb Space Telescope, and two other astronomers.  

Thurday, I worked on image reoganization and learned about recording methods FYI might use in the future to expand coverage to advisory committees which are not conveniently put online like the House and Senate hearings.  I will possibly be testing it out at some point over the next three weeks - I'll keep ya updated.

On Friday all of the interns and I went to the National Institude of Standards and Technology (NIST) for the day.  The morning was spent doing fun physics demos for middle school science teachers that they will hopefully bring back to their classrooms.  In the afternoon, we got a tour of the NIST facilites and saw the watt balance which hopes to redefine the kilogram by 2018, went in a giant elevator, and learned about forensic bullet analysis.  The people working in the bullets lab joked that shows like CSI and NCIS have people (including me) believing we are a lot further along in foresic analysis than we actually are.  They are working on creating a master database to identify which gun a bullet came from based on the unique marks it leaves on the barrel.  

This past weekend I ran away from the high DC temperatures and went to the Jersey shore and had a lovely 48 hours of sun and sand and cool ocean breezes.  It was also my dad's 50th... Happy birthday dad!



Marissa Murray