by Megan W.

“We are now closer to the end than we are to the beginning.”

Dr. Virani’s voice traveled across the room to my dinner table and his sentence threw me off kilter, puncturing the heavy fabric of the trance-like, sleep-deprived state I exist in at SSP.

Each day here at SSP is grueling and feels weeks long as I consume copious amounts of caffeine that makes time slow to a crawl. When working on psets, time passes similarly slow as I stare at a question, attempting to conjure up a single thought for hours only to check the time and realize it’s barely been five minutes. And yet, each week is ephemeral and fleeting and when I count the days left, I astound myself at how small the number is. To know, and attempt to grapple with the fact that SSP will end in just two more weeks, is like looking up at the sky to see an asteroid rapidly hurtling toward Earth. With the end of the program looming, a singular question continuously occupies my mind: How much time do we have left??? How many days? How many hours?…

How long till we are debris, sent reeling, scattered across the world?

It’s difficult to do much with the knowledge that SSP is ending in two weeks other than to say, “that’s crazy” and attempt to make myself blind to that fact as we hurtle toward the end. Yet, as I reflect on this impending end, I come to appreciate the people at SSP even more.

My research group, for instance, went up to the observatory and stayed until 1 AM after watching a Fourth of July baseball game to attempt to see an asteroid, even though there was 30% cloud cover, so that we could have an observation of asteroid 2001 MZ7 from UNC. Everyone was willing to go up on a night with middling cloud coverage and the high probability of a nonsensical technical issue crashing the telescope just for the chance to see a faint smudge of pixels. Ultimately, the people at SSP are just so passionate about what they love, whether it’s doing wildly complex integrals on the chalkboard or the Cheesecake Factory.

The aforementioned smudge.

Being around such impassioned people, there’s a kind of osmosis of inspiration that occurs. I’ve never regarded a 9 AM lecture after six hours of sleep with anything more than complete dread, except at SSP where excitement and anticipation enters that mixture. So far, SSP has made for an amazing summer with wonderful people, full of overall slaying. Consequently, I know that as the program reaches its end I will struggle to find a sense of true conclusion to such an experience, just as I am struggling to find a way to end this blog post. Thus, I end it as I feel SSP will end, cut short with a multitude of words left unspoken and unwritten, bittersweet and cherished.

About Me:

Hi! I’m Megan from Rolling Meadows, Illinois. My favorite lectures here at SSP have been about cosmology and stellar astronomy :). When I’m not sleeping, eating, or in class, I love to read, crochet, watch sitcoms, listen to music, and hone my Super Smash Bros skills.