Week 8: Lots of Visits!

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Monday, August 1, 2016


Simon Wright

Week 8 of my internship was full of new and interesting places! On Wednesday, all the interns had the chance to visit NASA Goddard and see a lot of cool stuff there. My personal favorite was seeing the place where James Webb was being built, as it really is a huge part of the future of astronomy in the next few years. We also got to meet some cool people and see Dahlia’s lab, and we heard a lot about the different work that is going on at the facility.


We also got the opportunity to see the control room(s) for the Hubble Space Telescope, which was really quite awesome. I have done a lot of work with Hubble data, so to see the place where the whole operation goes down was kind of surreal.


There was one other room that I was personally fascinated with, which was the test chamber where equipment could be tested under extremely loud conditions - up to 150 db (far beyond the threshold of pain). I would love to just put different stuff in that room and play different frequency tones and see what happens. If I were to close the door and play a 15 hz tone, would the people outside the room feel like there was an earthquake going on?

In other words, I think I know what I want for my birthday.


On Friday, we all went down to Capitol Hill to see how the other side lives (the politicians, that is). We saw a briefing on space science, we got an awesome and personalized tour of the Capitol building, and we got the chance to speak with various people about the relationships between science and politics.


I personally am not one for politics. I think I don’t have enough patience, plus growing up in DC made me sort of jaded from a young age about politics. But I was really impressed talking to so many people who speak for science in politics, and I must say that as a hopeful future scientist I am truly grateful.


The rest of the week was spent largely preparing for the Bootstrap workshop that is beginning on Monday. I read a ton about computer science statistics and inequality in the field, and I put together a powerpoint presentation to help enable discussion about how including CS in Physics can contribute to further equity in computer science as well as better preparing the next generation of STEM students. I will be supporting the workshop from ACP this week, but next week I will be able to spend a couple of days in New York helping with the workshop and hopefully learning more about the project!

Simon Wright