Week 7: Capitol Hill & NASA Goddard

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Monday, July 15, 2019


Jacqueline Blaum

Last week was much different from the previous weeks of the internship, as I spent two full days out of the office to attend the excellent intern-led tours of Capitol Hill and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. I initially thought that the time away from work would feel refreshing, but I was quite wrong. I spent most of the weekend recovering from the exhaustion of spending most of those two days walking around, sometimes in the oppressive heat and humidity, but the experiences were well worth the recovery time!

My favorite part of visiting Capitol Hill was walking around the halls of congresspeople’s offices and entering a few offices to speak with the staff. I was amazed to see the places where these politicians actually work; the wall outside Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s office (pictured below) was particularly awe-inspiring. I also enjoyed our group meeting with Rep. Bill Foster, the only physicist with a Ph.D. currently in Congress.

For me, an aspiring astrophysicist, the Goddard tour was like a dream. We attended an event, the “Jamboree,” in which NASA groups had set up a huge number of informational booths that handed out endless amounts of swag. I acquired several pens, flyers, stickers, pins, and posters that I have no clue how I’m going to get home without crushing. To my surprise, I ran into a fellow intern from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics last summer; she was part of the booth for the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), which will have a view 100 times greater than the Hubble Space Telescope. Seeing her in her element sharing her love of astronomy with others was probably the best part of my day.

This weekend, I finally tried brunch at Fare Well, a vegan restaurant with an amazing menu. I ordered a carrot cake pancake and fennel seitan sausage, both of which I highly recommend. I also couldn’t resist returning to Escape Room Arlington, this time with friends. Although the room wasn’t quite as scary as we expected, we were able to escape the “Good Doctor” before he returned to his dinner party to eat us. We plan on returning next week to try another room, and if we win I will have beaten all four rooms at the location and collected all four pins to get the “champion” pin (let’s face it, I’m a sucker for their marketing techniques). The three rooms I’ve tried so far have been amazing, and I wish they had more!

This morning, the fact that I only have three more weeks left in DC began to set in as I started drafting the title and abstract for my final presentation. I have finished my part of 16 playing cards, which means I only have 10 more to go. I’m so grateful for all the opportunities this internship offers and everything that I’ve been learning, but I’m definitely starting to feel ready to go home as we enter the home stretch of the summer.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez- the only congressperson (that I know of) whose outer wall is covered in post-it notes.
Low quality photo, high quality supercomputer at Goddard.
My delicious food at Fare Well.
We conquered the Mind Trap escape room!

Jacqueline Blaum