Last Thursday, we picked up our younger daughter from her paid summer research opportunity (REU) at the Green Bank National Radio Observatory to take her to our niece’s wedding in North Carolina. Green Bank is very remote– hours and hours in the middle of nowhere in West Virginia, on beautiful, winding, no-cell-service roads. She is an hour and fifteen minutes away from the nearest grocery store, and doesn’t have a car.
The GBT is the largest movable object in the world, and the dish part of the telescope is over 2 acres big. It is significantly taller than the Statue of Liberty, and yes, she’s thrilled to say she has climbed up it, very high above the dish.
To eliminate interference, you can take no digital objects–including phones and cameras– anywhere close to it, so the photos here that I took are from far away, or are of things in the museum, or her lab and the house she is staying in.
This is a wonderful opportunity for her (especially as a rising junior) and she is making very good money without anywhere to spend it. Most of the actual work is number crunching, data compression, and writing code. She is good at it and quickly finished what they thought she’d spend all summer on, so they’ve been giving her miscellaneous work to complete since. And even though she is excelling, she tells us that in the future, she’d rather pursue more theoretical physics that takes a larger macro view of things, and is less computer focused. (It’ll be interesting to see what she chooses to do next summer!)
There are nine summer college kids working at the GBT this summer. Our daughter and one other person are working on the big telescope, and the others are working on everything from quasars to the GBT summer camp. They share a remote house (in the bottom two photos), which is a bike ride away from the telescope, and she can see the big telescope from her bedroom window.
She has evenings and weekends off with no where to go, so she’s been doing more beadwork. I have included a photo below of one of her latest creations. She’s also been enjoying cooking for herself, and finds that the whole pace of working full time feels leisurely compared to her 18 hour credit loads that include time intensive ceramics studio courses and physics lab classes, (or compared to last summer when she was a counselor from morning till night). So regardless of “brain-numbing” work (she learned Linux in a week) she is having a restful summer.
Green Bank National Radio Observatory– in the middle of a huge blackout zone with incredibly low population– gets 500,000 visitors a year! We enjoyed a slide show, the bus tour, the museum, the gift shop, and seeing where our daughter works and lives.
And it was great to get to whisk her away for some family time in civilization. We are grateful for how well she is doing and that she has had this awesome opportunity!