While Rice and I have had the matzoandrice twitter account for some time, I never had my own until 2.5 weeks ago. When I started my own, I instantly chose to follow thinkgeek, one of my favorite geek stores. About 2 hours after starting my account, they posted that NASA was holding a contest to have people be twitter correspondents to their Solar Dynamic Observatory Launch press conference. I signed up and got picked! Insane!
We first met at NASA to get our press passes and headed over to Grand Deli to grab sandwiches. I chose the House Special, a croissant with turkey, lettuce, tomato, and some sort of condiment. You can’t go wrong with the “house special” right? I’d say it was a decent sandwich, but that’s really only because anything on a croissant tastes instantly better. Really, it was an average sandwich, but it was made quickly and the staff was friendly.
On the positive, Timmy of Thinkgeek fame joined us for lunch.
We tweeted everything as we were going, which makes for a fun time while walking. In a disappointing turn of events, our walk over to the Air and Space Museum was in the rain on our way to learn more about the Solar Dynamic Observatory. Mr. Sun was not coming out to play. We did get a private tour of the museum, though.
Some of my observations from the A&S Museum:
- They left a camera in space for 2 years and it came back with Staph on it. They thought there were microbes on the moon. Turns out astronauts and rocket scientists need to learn to cough into their sleeves and wash their hands.
- Germany made a “Vengeance Weapon” that they dropped on the UK during WWII. Over 20,000 slaves were killed in the making. Only 6,ooo Brits were killed on impact. Efficiency fail.
- NASA and Velcro are BFF. It’s on flight suits to prevent their feet from slipping.
- The first in flight room with old-timey Wright Brothers planes is the place to be in the museum. It was the perfect temp, light on children, and had great old planes with authentic parts!
- I learned how astronauts pee in space. It was exciting because I’m 5.
We made our way to the Newseum for the press conference. If you’ve never been, it’s well worth the $20 fee. You could spend your whole day there and not see everything. The building also sports one of the best views of the Capitol. This is about views of the sun, though, so hold on to your hats! er shades?
That red arc you see? That’s a small portion of the sun. “Sure,” you say. “Of course the sun is a giant fire ball. Tell me something new.” For one, don’t piss something off that is restless, angry, and spits radiation at our humble home. The scientists at NASA were able to create this amazing camera (with 4 lenses, none of which were very photogenic) can take pictures at different temperatures and look into and through the sun. Did you read that? THROUGH THE SUN.
The scientists did a great job explaining what we were looking at. I remember very few words as big as “helioseismic,” making the talk surprisingly low on jargon. While this was a decidedly nerdy thing to do on my day off, I was probably one of the least geeky ones there. I’d like to thank the University of Wisconsin’s Physics for Poets class (circa 2000) for giving me the background to understand a little about what was going on.
I’ve saved the best for last. Behold:
One of the developers said, “It’s just beautiful. Thank God it worked!” I couldn’t have said it better.