austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

I move across the Earth in my new pattern shirt

The faculty sponsored a talk by Jocelyn Bell Burnell, discoverer of the first pulsar, so I could hear a fine talk (delivered with an uncanny lack of verbal clutter -- uhms, uhs, half-completed sentences and the like -- and starting each of the major topics exactly ten minutes apart) and increase the count of People Isaac Asimov Wrote About Whom I've Met. I knew the broad picture of astronomical discoveries which match Einstein's relativity theories, but am behind on the most recent discoveries. She doesn't have any good theories for the Pioneer anomaly either.

At the reception I listened to several people, including friends (I've noticed more friends lately; apparently I'm gaining traction) asking her good questions; I finally admitted ``I can't think of anything nontrivial to talk about,'' getting a good laugh. Probably she appreciated talking with someone who didn't have a research question to ask; we ended up comparing notes about Princeton and confirming that my occasional efforts to teach myself general relativity were completely futile, but fun.

Her talk and promotion of one of those screensaver-computing projects for detecting gravity waves were part of the centennial celebrations for Einstein's five great papers, or, as she put it, ``if you aren't sick of Einstein yet, by the end of the year you will be.'' Exciting prospect.

Trivia: The Rutgers College student body adopted scarlet as the school color in May 1869. The Board of Trustees ratified the decision in 1900. Source: Rutgers: A Bicentennial History, Richard P McCormick.

Currently Reading: Memoirs found in a bathtub, Stanislaw Lem. It's all good fun, yes, but deep down I don't like first-person books with an unnamed narrator. I'm never fooled into identifying with the protagonist and I'm irritated I can't pin a name on the character.


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