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Great Science and Mall Walking in Washington

GrandHyattA.gifToday I visited with my sister-in-law, Dr. Liz. (I’d give you her full name, but since she got married I can’t remember all her last names.) I know, that nickname makes her sound like some sort of relationships therapist or something, but actually she’s a gim-crack polymer scientist working in tissue engineering. She’s also a professor at a major university, so she’s living the dream. She even lets me come over once a year and give a talk on polymer thermodynamics; now THAT’s a cool relative!

This was my first time to cross paths with her at a major science society conference, so it was fun to get to listen in on what she’s up to. She gave a nice paper in one of the afternoon sessions at the Grand Hyatt. I may be just the teensiest bit biased, but I think she gave the best talk in the session. Okay, she’s not as far along in her research plan as some of the more established players in the polyHIPE arena, but she’s far and away the most dynamic speaker. (How can you NOT get excited about technology with cool names like polyHIPE?) Watching the others, I simply had to smile; they were clearly stereotypical in their approach to the speaker’s podium, and could have been in a commercial somewhere as the classic scientist. Dr. Liz, however, blew them all away. (That’s my story…)

After the session I called the two fellas I’m allegedly traveling with to see where they were. They’d headed out early in the day to sight-see around the Mall. I found out where they were, and decided the Smithsonian stop on the Metro was the place to meet them. Or at least somewhere nearby. I got over there quickly and came up the long escalators to find a threatening sky and plenty of humid heat. No Derek, no Tim. So I called again. They were down by the Korean War Memorial, still blocks away.

I didn’t want to wait for them in the heat, so I arranged to meet them at the foyer of the National Museum of Natural History nearby. You know, the one with the elephant under the rotunda. (Everybody knows about the elephant, right? RIGHT??) That’s only about a two-block walk from the station, and I could get an ice cream along the way.


We finally got together and chose to leave the natural history museum for Wednesday. With the National Archives nearby we chose to stop there. However, the line was so long that it would have taken an hour or more to see the documents; we were plenty bummed. (We did see the manhole cover where Ben Gates came out with the freshly-stolen Declaration of Independence; cool!) We headed out to walk to the Capitol Building. (How many of you remember the difference between “capital” and “capitol” ?)

After what seemed like miles (probably only a Washington quarter-mile) we got to our destination and took a short break in the heat, deciding whether or not to challenge the guards for entry. Finally we chose to move on to the Library of Congress. They were closed! Can you believe, they’re only open eight hours a day? Sounds like they’re run by Congress or something. We chose to call it a day from there, and so we headed to the nearest Metro station and rode out the Blue Line, looking forward to yet another shuttle fright ride back to the hotel…

Enjoy the (National Mall) Heat!


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