4.5 Marshall Scholars at Dinner
Before I get around to finishing up my remaining Berkeley-related posts, I had the distinct privilege to meet up with a few of my Marshall colleagues in Washington D.C. this week. The event, something of a ‘preunion,’ was a vacation from what was already a very comfortable summer vacation and I had a lot of fun. I haven’t asked for permission to use peoples names in this blog, so I’ll stick to first names (hopefully this doesn’t cause any unforseen issues). Unfortunately, I did not bring my camera and do not have photos.
I met up with Adam M. and his girlfriend Marianna at the Chinatown Metro station in D.C. Adam will be joining me in Cambridge doing astrophysics while Marianna finishes her senior year–for the sake of this blog I’ve counted her as a future Marshall scholar (hence the fractional count in the subject). We zoomed through the touristy spots of interest, including the Natural History Museum (lots of bugs), the Aerospace Museum (Pluto had a commemorative sash), and the National Zoo (which has a baby Panda that shares a name with my nephew). Despite being in a bit of a daze (not jet lag, just my usual morning daze), I had a lot of fun talking to other scientists. Scientist couples are an added bonus, because one wonders whether a bioengineer and an astrophysicist would end up raising a biophysicist or an astrobiologist, or something in between. At any rate, my revisionist recollection of the event was learning a lot from Marianna’s commentary of the skeletons and fossils at the Natural History Museum, learning a lot from Adam’s commentary of astrophysics in the Aerospace museum, and me being very impressed at how fluffy the stuffed animals were at the National Zoo gift shop (why didn’t we build a National Particles Museum?).
For dinner we met up with Jessica and Adam B., both of whom will be studying the Middle East in Oxford. This led to an absolutely delightful experimental test to the question of what happens when 2.5 Cambridge science Marshalls and 2 Oxford humanities Marshalls get together. The answer: eat delicious Ethiopian food (with coffee and ice cream afterwards). There was a wonderful exchange of ideas which included the status and relevance of nuclear weapons in Iran, what quarks are, and the future of energy resources; we were also able to talk about how Harry Potterish Oxbridge life would be like, silly things we did in high school chemistry and how long ago that was, the World Cup (lots of red cards this year), and how many houses there are in Parliament (two!!). Most of all, however, I was impressed by the depth at which we could talk about subjects (especially those I don’t usually think about) and the ease with which others were able to explain their fields to non-experts.
I’ve spent the past year hanging out with groups of friends who were either all theoretical particle physicists or friends who couldn’t tell a neutron from a neutrino. The experience of sharing something in common with a group of scientists and humanists was notably unique and lots of fun. As a result, I have a new excitement for our Marshall orientation in mid-September and the following year.
Post Script: I also realized the necessity to ‘brush up’ on the Middle East and how to explain particle physics to non-scientists.
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