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Sleuthing & Adventuring

I feel like a galactic sleuth! As I prepare for our Journal Club assignment (a 15-20 minute presentation on a published paper assigned by our mentors) my self-assigned homework keeps growing. So far I want to learn more about the giant pulses out of the Crab pulsar, the most powerful supercomputer in existence, Fast Fourier Transform processors, primordial black holes, Hawking Process evaporation, blackbody radiation and super nova explosion EMP. Mind you, these don’t include the questions I’m compiling for my mentor. As daunting as this appears, I can’t help but have a Cheshire Cat smile. It’s just all so exotic and exciting and I get to wade through it looking for signs of alien technology! Really, I feel like I’m deep inside a science fiction movie. Then I look up from the black and white terminal window filled with numbers on my computer screen to realize I’m actually working at the SETI Institute.

Even with the sci-fi Dick Tracy movie playing in my head, being back in the office this week is taking some getting use to. Staying in the houses at Hat Creek Observatory all last week was basically magical. I hiked a volcano and it was quite difficult; elevation is not kind. I “soaked” in sulfuric acid steam, as in, I walked through the plume purposefully a few times. I stuck my noggin inside a radio telescope while Dr. Ellie Arroway, I mean, Dr. Jill Tarter, taught us interns about the telescopes home built mechanics. After a presentation on glow in the dark rocks by retired SETI scientist, Dr. Rick Forester, I decided I’m going to collect fluorescent and phosphorescent rocks!** I climbed up a Red Wood tree and scampered bare foot across tide pools. The best part, all our adventures were entertainingly educational thanks to the sweetest astrobiologist I’ve ever met, Dr. Rosalba Bonaccorsi.

If I wasn’t before, I’m thoroughly convinced now that the best science company to ever be a part of is SETI.

**Many of my friends, including my hubby, have awesome collections of their favorite things from Star Wars figurines to awesome Batman stuff to everything Muppets. Knowing that it’d be probably impossible to collect all things physics, I never started a collection. Then, I saw fluorescent and phosphorescent rocks. Plus, they’re free! Granted I have to spend some money to show them off but it’s much more economical, educational and fun to collect than Legos.

Rosalba, the sweetest astobiologist ever! She's, also, a sulfur-based life form, but shhh.

The sweetest astobiologist ever! She’s, also, a sulfur-based life form, but shhh.

Tajana, Divya, Lindsay and I at the base of the biggest Red Wood in Memorial Park

Tajana, Divya, Lindsay and I at the base of the biggest Red Wood in Memorial Park

tide pools near Pescadero State Beach

tide pools and river warn pebbles

They glow-in-the-dark!!!!

They glow-in-the-dark!!!!

A few of the 6 meter telescopes at the Allen Telescope Array at Hat Creek Radio Observatory

A few of the 6 meter telescopes at the Allen Telescope Array at Hat Creek Radio Observatory

I did it!!!

Top of the Cinder Cone at Lassen National Park -> I did it!!!

lunch stop on our way back from Bumpass Hell... we collected some high school interns

lunch stop on our way back from Bumpass Hell… we collected some high school interns

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