Week 8: Thoughts from a frantic Physicist II

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Friday, July 27, 2018


Phoebe Sharp

Hello to my friends, family, and professors that I have kindly pressured into reading this blog. It gives me more purpose to have an audience than an allusive intern for next summer.

In an effort to establish some consistency in my life, I will be reusing my title from Week 6. Why make things more difficult in my life when I don’t have to?

“We don’t want NASA pursuing the easy stuff.”- Mr. Young, a witness from JWST IRB, from JWST hearing on Thursday

That’s my life. Just exchange “NASA” for “Phoebe”. “We don’t want [Phoebe] pursuing the easy stuff,” is exactly what my inner self says all the time. If it wasn’t true, I wouldn’t have studied Physics. I wouldn’t have gone to the House Majority side of the Capitol to see two people justify the delay and increase of cost of the James Webb. I expected more science at this hearing, but it was just budget-this, budget-that. The two witnesses at this hearing were pretty exceptional people. They had an understanding and need for science and space exploration that I feel they conveyed very well. But, explaining the importance of space travel for curiosity isn’t as compelling as saying that we have to keep up with other countries that are doing more space travel than we are. It was really cool that we had talked about this argument so much in my undergrad, and when Dr. Mather visited we asked him to touch on this. It’s difficult to instill curiosity that is so ingrained in scientists’ reference frame to others that don’t have the same perspective about science. Scientists are each other’s hipe-men. And when carrying that other to other audiences can be challenging.

We had two tours this week: NIST and NASA. Let me start by giving kudos to Daniel, Collin, and Jesus who travel over an hour each way to do research. That’s not a easy trek every day, and you have officially been pardoned from not hanging out with use much as we would have liked. Top 3 favorite things about NIST:

  • We saw a direct descendant of the apple tree that sparked Newton’s gravity idea.

  • There were really cute gophers and wildlife that can’t traditionally be found closer to the city.

  • The atmosphere of nerdiness is unmatched. Everyone here loves science, wants to help the world, and is able to inspire those around them to care even more.

  • Honorable Mention: The lunchroom is awesome.

Top 3 favorite things about NASA:

  • Everyone thinks everyone else is smarter than they are, so everyone talks around with wide eyes, trying to take in all of the intelligence around them.

  • Between all of the buildings are miles of trees. It’s like a compound of smart people doing cool research.

  • Everyone cares so much. I talked to a computer engineer that compiles a lot of the data from some awesome experiments and makes them interactive and visually stimulating. After learning that some schools don’t have access to .gov websites, she put her work on Youtube, so they are much more accessible to educators.

Science is really cool.

At my internship though, my mentor gave me a Rick and Morty game from Comic Con. Me, being 22 years old without siblings, didn’t know of the game, but I love Rick and Morty. So now, I have a cool game and more Rick and Morty merch. I’ve been working on the mobile presence, my articles, definitions of various aspects of physics, and trying to keep it all together because we have two weeks left.


Phoebe Sharp