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MIT staff blogger Matt McGann '00

RA Selection Day 7 by Matt McGann '00

As selection continues, I wore my blue & gold tie that I bought in Richmond, VA.

I had lunch again at the Steam Cafe, which is turning into the place to be. Other folks who were eating today’s delicious gumbo (among other options) included Chancellor Phil Clay and MIT Vice President Kathryn Willmore, as well as my subcommittee partner today Mari.

I also finally got around to reading a bunch of articles from the MIT News Office, including one on some awesome undergraduate research. A snippet:

An MIT undergraduate who says she’s been interested in astronomy for “as long as I can remember” is lead author of an upcoming paper announcing the discovery of three stars that have the largest diameters of any normal stars known, more than a billion miles across.

Emily Levesque, a junior in physics, presented the work at a recent American Astronomical Society meeting, where it caught the attention of many reporters and resulted in stories in a variety of media, from USA Today to CNN and

Full article at

That article reminded me of the space research another student, Laura Lopez, announced recently:

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, taking advantage of multiple unique views of black hole particle jets over the course of a year with NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, have assembled a “picture” of the region that has revealed several key discoveries.

They have found that the jets may be originating five times closer to the black hole than previously thought; they see in better detail how these jets change with time and distance from the black hole; and they could use this information as a new technique to measure black hole mass.

The observation is of a familiar source named SS 433 — a binary star system within our Galaxy in the constellation Aquila, the Eagle, about 16,000 light years away. The black hole and its companion are about two-thirds closer to each other than the planet Mercury is to the Sun. The jets shoot off at 175 million miles per hour, 26 percent of light speed.

“The high-speed jets in nearby SS 433 may be caused by the same mechanisms as the powerful outflows in the most distant and much more massive black holes, such as quasars,” said Laura Lopez , an undergraduate student at MIT and lead author on a paper about the result. “SS 433 provides a nice local laboratory to study the formation of and conditions in relativistic jets.” Dr. Herman Marshall , Ms. Lopez’s research supervisor, led the investigation.

Full article at

Finally today, as promised, the final question from last night’s trivia:

Which US President is pictured on the $1000 bill?

(The answer is in the comments)

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