Week 8: NIST and other gems

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015


Rachel Odessey

I don’t know why it took me until one of my last weekends here to make it down to the DuPont Circle farmers’ market, but better late than never, right? I took a stroll down to 20th street on Sunday and was greeted by stands and stands of fresh fruits and vegetables and cheeses. It was hot and I bought myself some gazpacho to eat later in the week, and they were even having a free paella festival on the block and so I had some of that. I had a lengthy brunch with an old roommate from school and spent a pretty lazy Sunday around the neighborhood.  

Back at Goddard, I had a few breakthroughs with my code this week, although as always with programming it seems like as soon as you fix one problem another pops right up. I’ve still got a while to try to fix it but it’s hard to believe how little is left of the summer! The main excitement at Goddard this past week was New Horizon’s flyby visit to Pluto on Wednesday. The screens in the building lobby that normally showcase different Goddard projects (often Eta Carinae!) were entirely taken over with images from the satellite and the scientists in the building would stop by in front of the displays and try an offhand analysis of Pluto’s geology.

On Thursday we had my favorite of our tours so far, at NIST. Veronica and Teresa took us around to their labs, and then to the lab where they have instruments to define the meter, and have ongoing projects to measure the speed of light in air. We got to peer into some nano-fabrication labs and see a truly interesting talk about highly accurate timepieces and the extreme cooling methods that are used to produce them, which serve the GPS’s that we use every day. We also saw their neutron radiation lab, whose experiments were very hard for me to understand but were interesting nonetheless with their long series of instrumentation. Also, and obviously most importantly, they had the best cafeteria of anywhere we’ve visited, which was especially exciting since SPS bought us lunch.

Outside work, it’s been a fun week as well—catching up with some friends from college and others from high school who are home for the summer. I took a long walk around the embassies with a friend on Monday, which was pretty interesting, and did some more climbing throughout the week. Looking forward to the weekend! I’m hoping to finally go hiking.

Rachel Odessey