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Friday, June 2, 2017


Eleanor Hook

It's been almost a week and I still can't believe I'm finally here! After settling in over the long weekend and taking some time to explore D.C., my fellow SPS interns and I headed to the American Center for Physics for orientation on Tuesday. I was thrilled to meet all of the AIP/SPS folks whose names I've known for years but never managed to run into! I was especially starstruck when Dr. John Mather, Nobel Laureate and sponsor of my internship, walked in. I had hoped to meet him at some point, but I wasn't expecting it on Day 1! Between Brad's explaining the mathematical similarities between ice crystals and parked cars, and Dr. Mather's debating the amount of time it would take to cook a dinosaur, we had an entertaining lunch table to say the least.

My first day working on Capitol Hill (!) was Wednesday. I began, like any good intern, by getting to work a few minutes early-- until alarms started to blare just as I reached my building! After running around for a second, looking for the invading spaceship, I heard a calm, prerecorded message: "This is a scheduled evacuation drill. All personnel please exit the building. This is a scheduled evacuation drill...." Oh. That's why no one else looked concerned.

It was a good 40 minutes before the building was cleared and I was able to get inside, at which point I was very glad to have a drink of water and cool off. Once I had completed some required paperwork, set up my email and computer accounts, etc., I got to meet everyone else in the office. I am working for the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, in the minority office (Democrats), and I was thrilled to learn that many of the staff here have physics or physics-related degrees! There are even a couple of former AIP fellows working for the committee, so I felt right at home.

This week hasn't been too crazy yet, since Congress is not in session, but I have already spent time preparing bios, answering the committee phone, discussing previous hearings, and running around the Hill to drop things off for people. I'm starting to know my way around, but it's amazing what a maze it is up here! Once you get inside the buildings, there are tunnels upon tunnels connecting everything together, including a private underground train system serving the Capitol. Not only that, but there's a whole community built up inside the Hill, with everything from shoe shining to haircuts to food courts underground. Receiving my badge has been one of the most exciting parts of this experience so far. It's incredible the amount of freedom interns have to explore the buildings and all the secret passageways!

Eleanor Hook