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Physics Department

Photo taken by the delightful Agostina, daughter of an actual physicist.

Physics Interlude

AUGUST 24, 2011 | PAULA WRAY

What can I say about my month in the Penn State Physics department? I'd like to say they've made me a full professor. But the truth is, I am just a grunt shuffling paper. Mountains of paper! Oh the irony. In my previous life, paper was the enemy, to be destroyed at all costs. Now here on the cutting edge of science, paper still rules, and it is providing me a paycheck.

Let's see what positives I can glean from my experience so far. I've met some very nice people, especially the young folks. I seem to connect to them more than people my age. They are fun, have a quick sense of humor, love computers and technology. Life has not beaten them down yet.

Another positive is the exercise. At first I complained about the trek to work, but it is actually a great health benefit being forced to walk every day. Besides that, I am not sitting on my behind 8 hours a day. I actually get up, move around, climb step ladders, bend over, stand, move my arms, work up a sweat.

A third plus - research for story writing. I had the opportunity to clean out old records in a dingy mad-science lab where aluminum foil covered all kinds of far-out equipment. If that isn't fodder for a science fiction book, Disney movie, or horror screenplay, I don't know what is.

Have I learned anything about physics? I can spell it.

Friday I have surgery on my trigger thumb, and don't know how long I'll be out or if they'll want me back for more. Stay tuned.