Week 7: Scrambling

Share This:

Sunday, July 13, 2014


Jacob Zalkind


This summer sure has flown on by! It seems like we in the history department have only been here for a few weeks but already our end-of-the-summer deadline is approaching like an oncoming freight train. While some of the other interns have a few more weeks to get everything in line, we have to have all of our work pretty much finished by the 18th of July, the date of our Advisory Meeting. At this meeting, a small group of physicists, some of whom we have been studying for the past several weeks, will be in attendance of a presentation of our work so they can see what kind of progress we have made over the summer, and give us feedback. Looking back over the weeks, we have really made a good dent in the work that Dr. Good wanted us to accomplish. Between all of the researching and scouring for information, the writing of the lesson plans and the preparing of several other kinds of resources, its a wonder we got so much work done, especially since Dr. Good doesn't assign homework! While we have gotten a good portion of work finished, we still have a good bit to go.

This week I took on a pretty daunting task for our project: making a spreadsheet. This is no ordinary spreadsheet however, as this spreadsheet includes all of the African-American physicists, past, present and future, who we have been studying. Included in the spreadsheet are birth dates, death dates (if applicable, of course), places of birth, fields of specialization, institutions where they received their Bachelor's, Master's or Ph.D degrees and important and notable achievements and accomplishments made throughout their lives. The list contains a whopping 264 names, of which I found nearly complete information on almost 230 of them, which is way more than I thought would be possible! This was no easy task, especially since at least half of these scientists are just ordinary people who have gone through the rigors of a Ph.D program in physics and are now living their lives working in either the private sector or in academia. Not exactly ordinary people, "very extraordinary ordinary people" I think is what Dr. Good called them. Either way, three full days of sifting through the internet and all of our sources led to a near complete list of what we were looking for, so I'd say it was a real success!

In addition to all of the excitement at ACP, the interns this week got to experience all the excitement of fellow interns' Kelby and Ben Perez's work site of NIST. I had already been to NIST the previous week, but didn't get to see nearly what I saw this time around! We were given the opportunity to see the Neutron Research Center, complete with its own nuclear reactor and a computer powered by Windows '98. After seeing all the work being done with neutron research, we then saw the different kinds of electron and other high powered microscopes at the disposal of the researchers of NIST, as well as examples of the kinds of work being done with them. We were then directed through the nano-fabrication department and saw the lab that Kelby and Ben are a part of. Seeing all the research done at NIST as well as all of the scientists was pretty intimidating because it just goes to show there are some really smart people out there doing some really crazy things with science. It was a good experience to see where they work, what they are doing, and what kind of results their efforts are yielding.

Photo: One of the Crazy Neutron Research Machines at NIST

This weekend proved relaxing after a busy week. We were able to explore the city of Washington in an entirely new way this week....by water. Ashley, Kelby, Ben Perez, Caleb Stephen, and I rented out kayaks and paddled up and down the Potomac to see all that the river has to offer in terms of kayaking. We paddled all the way up from Georgetown to the Lincoln Memorial, then down the river around Roosevelt Island and down farther away from the city limits to a small outcropping of rocks and explored that island, also going for a swim in the process. That was so much fun, especially since it was the perfect day for it and it was Caleb's first time kayaking, so I'd say it was a successful adventure!

Jacob Zalkind