Monday, July 17, 2017By:
Despite what it can seem from the outside, things actually do get done in the Senate.
This week my committee had budget hearings for both the Department of Interior (DOI) and Department of Energy (DOE). In these hearings Ryan Zinke and Rick Perry, the Secretaries of Interior and Energy, defended the President’s budget request. I got to attend both of these and found them fascinating. As a physics student I was inspired to see strong opposition, from both parties, to cutting basic research. There were several back-and-forth moments that got very heated, particularly when some of the democrats asked their questions. I’ve also been getting a feel for how hearings take place and how busy senators are. During what is typically a two-hour hearing a senator might leave and come back several times. Some senators never show up and some only stay long enough to ask their questions.
It’s a good thing I’m starting to learn more about the Senate, as Eleanor and I will be giving our tour of the Capitol next week (all the interns are required to give a tour of their work places). In preparation for this one of the staff members from Eleanor’s committee gave us a quick tour of the Capitol Building. I was excited about this since I had only been to the Senate Gallery previously. I’m going to have to spend a few lunch breaks and explore the place some more.
I have been able to use my physics knowledge more this week. I’m working on a research project regarding energy storage, a field that has close ties to physics. If we want to rely more on renewable sources then being able to efficiently store the inconsistent energy that these supply is key. Before starting this research when I thought about energy storage all that came to mind were batteries. Batteries store energy in the form of chemical potential, however a majority of the world’s storage is in the form of gravitational potential energy. Pumped hydroelectric storage, where water is pumped to a higher elevation, is by far the largest and oldest type of energy storage. I hadn’t realized this, but considering the physics it makes sense.
Outside of work I’ve been starting to check off things on my to-do list. Last weekend a few of us made a trip to the National Air and Space Museum. I was expecting to find the space sections the most interesting, but afterward I think the aviation parts were the coolest. All of the aviation artifacts are the real things including the Spirit of St. Louis, which made the first nonstop, transatlantic flight, and the Wright Brothers plane; I don’t think any explanation is needed for this! We spent close to three hours here, but barely touched the surface. I would definitely like to come back if I can fit it in around the other museums I want to visit.