Week 9: Capitol tours and the Summer Symposium

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Sunday, July 27, 2014


Stephen Skolnick

Last Monday, Ben (one of the policy interns) conducted us on a tour of the capitol. While Ashley, the other policy intern, applied for a tour of the white house earlier in the summer, they replied that they were unable to accommodate us, so this was our main opportunity to see the interior of such a historic building. After several rounds of security screenings, we were allowed to walk the halls, with Ben serving as a guide. The reconstruction of the original congressional chambers was fascinating, but the most striking part of the visit was the rotunda. Straight up through the oculus of the dome, George Washington sits ensconced among clouds, wielding a sword in the style of a Roman god. Maidens dance about him, and the enterprises that shaped America (commerce, science, agriculture, etc.) are depicted all around the heavenly scene. Freedom Incarnate leads the charge into battle at Washington's feet, looking for all the world like an early version of Captain America with her star-spangled shield. Think Positive, Think ProtonThe perimeter of the hall is lined with statuary--each state is allowed to contribute two pieces for inclusion in the capitol building. Below the floor of the rotunda, the collection continues in the "crypt", which was intended to house the entrance to George Washington's tomb.

Friday was a big day for the interns--the SPS Summer Symposium. Arriving at ACP bright and early in the morning, we gave presentations on the work we've been doing this summer to a conference room full of staff, friends, and family. My dad managed to attend, since he lives close by, which was a really special occurrence for me; I've sat in the audience for more than one of his talks, and I was proud to have him there for my first. I got to talk about this summer's project and, consequently, physics' role in medicine. It's an easy topic to get excited about, and I think the crowd walked away with some sense of that excitement. Look for the fruits of our labors going up on PhysicsCentral here soon! In the meantime, have a sneak-peek at an early draft of one of the posters (featuring Proton Therapy, a pretty new and really neat way to treat cancer)!

Stephen Skolnick