Semester at ‘See (Wupdate 1, F16)

Hey friends,

If you don’t get it, I’m in Tennes-SEE right now… When I came up with that I had to be hospitalized overnight because I thought it was so funny!

Ah, still good.

Anyway, there are a few reasons why I’m doing this (possibly) 16-week set of posts:

  1. Personal documentation — important.
  2. I’m the first Lawrentian to do this program in about 5 years so I think this blog could be a nice reference for future students interested in the ORSS program.
  3. I need a medium to tell jokes.

Woo, Okay! So I moved in to the apartment outside of Oak Ridge (Centennial Village, a gated community) 8 days ago and it is SWEET. Like I thought it looked good online, but my wildest dreams have come true! Amenities include; a DISHWASHER, a GAS stove, MY OWN BATHROOM, WASHER AND DRYER IN MY BATHROOM, a (community) POOL! It’s crazy-town and I think I’m going to be so spoiled here that the return to Earth (Lawrence) is going to be a bit rocky.

Right, so Monday was my first day at the lab and we all drove down there together to make it through the GUARD PORTAL* (literally like the U.S-Canadian border) and then proceed to go to the badging office. We all got temps and came back later to get photo badges*. I met my mentor in person and my supervisor (they’re awesome) and we went off to the building they work in which is the Spallatial Neutron Source (SNS for short). The national lab encompasses about 25 square miles so my building is about an 8 minute drive from the rest of the campus which is centered about the badging office/visitor’s center.

Tuesday, I spent some time in the lab with my hands behind my back because there are trainings that must be completed before you can do ANYTHING in a lab. A Lawrence parallel would be needing to be trained to use the biology freezer room or needed to be trained to put your hands in the glovebox in Allison’s lab. All instruments (even down to a 1-speed centrifuge) have a formal or informal training associated with them. There’s plenty of reading material that goes along with this all with one goal in mind: SAFETY (Hugely important here).

Wednesday, I got to tour the Graphite Reactor*, which is where weapons grade plutonium was first made from uranium (graphite is the moderator) during WWII. This plutonium was then used in a few of the atomic bombs, including, I believe, the first one ever tested (remember Dr. Atomic). Very eerie being in that place, but very cool… And now I work right next to the modern equivalent known as HFIR (High Flux Isotope Reactor). I have pictures of the inside, taking pictures of the outside was not allowed. I’ve noted everything I can’t take pictures of with an asterisk (*).

Thursday and Friday… I was in the lab and I had my first p-chem class! Both were oh-so-fun! Seriously! The people I work with are awesome, and the p-chem class and professor seem excited to get into the good stuff.

I’ll be working over at HFIR a bit next week with my supervisor (Qiu) on a new direction in the project that I’ll be exploring (exciting!!)

This weekend I spent some time in the smokies (again), and I’m baking up a storm. Happy Labor Day! Whitewater rafting trip tomorrow!






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