Week 9: End in Sight

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Sunday, August 2, 2020


Paul McKinley

Schwooom! See that? That was the summer. I’m beating a dead horse at this point via my blog posts (a phrase I’ve never been a fan of but seems fitting), but with one week to go, it’s difficult to be introspective. It really feels like we just started. That said, last week was pretty packed, and the upcoming week looks to be about the same again, so there’s a good chance I won’t hit that bittersweet reflective stage until Friday’s symposium.

I spent a lot of this past week finishing up my long-term staff assignments. One project focused on compiling sections from the recently-released report from the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. The document is open-source and available to the public so for folks interested in climate and renewable energy, like me, I highly recommend checking it out. It’s about 600 pages (I did not read all of them), but even the beginning sections are very informative in my opinion.

The other project I finished up is the subject of my symposium presentation. I got clearance from our staff regarding presentable information, so on Friday I’ll be talking about my work on the 2020 NSF Reauthorization Act. I think this was one of the best projects I could have hoped to work on this summer -- I entered this position hoping to gain a better understanding of the connection between policy-makers and scientists, and getting to sit in on some of the meetings with stakeholders and helping review legislation for a body like the National Science Foundation has certainly provided that insight. 

In other news, this week has been great for all things Space! Just today, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley safely touched down in the Crew Dragon capsule, and we also saw a successful launch of the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover. A little closer to home, we’ve been lucky to see some great flyovers of the international space station right over our house on clear evenings. It's only visible for a brief window of time at dawn or dusk because you need reflecting light from the sun to see it. Much like the summer, it seems that as soon as it appears, it's gone again, hurtling towards the other side of the planet. Okay, I guess the summer doesn't do that last part. However, seeing that dot streak across the sky knowing that astronauts are aboard never disappoints, and appreciating those small windows of time draws many parallels in my mind with the summer months.

Like I said, I don’t think I can be introspective just yet, but this summer has been a wild ride to say the least. So instead, I'll end by making another plug for stargazing from home, something I’ve found can be a much-needed, albeit brief distraction from everything going on in the world. So stay curious, and look up every once in a while -- you might get to see that wonderful, international feat of engineering orbiting at 17,000 mph.


Paul McKinley