Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Math Celeb Sighting

One of the very few benefits of living in L.A. besides being near to Caltech, UCLA, JPL, the Griffith Observatory, and the Mt. Wilson Observatory is that you really do see a lot of movie and television stars roaming about the city. I’m normally not star-struck except when it relates to my fields of interest. One of those rare moments happened to me this evening.

I had just attended a wonderful afternoon lecture on massive black hole formation over at the Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena and I decided to treat myself to a mouthwatering dinner at Pie N Burger near the Caltech campus. It was a pretty early dinner for me, around 5:30pm and the day was cold and rainy. I trundled in and sat at my favorite counter seat and was nearly finished with my burger when a frumpy dude came in off the street and sat two barstools away from me.

From the looks of him, I immediately judged the guy to be slightly off-center, and though not exactly homeless looking; he seemed to have seen better days. In L.A. you develop a 6th sense about these things, so I tried not to make eye contact and I continued reading my pre-print paper on massive black hole genesis. Out of the corner of my eye, the guy took out what appeared to be a late model cell phone, so I breathed some relief, if he had a nice cell phone he couldn’t be too weird. Then I saw his curly brown locks and profile that looked oddly familiar.

It was none other than David Krumholtz who plays the Professor Charlie Eppes genius character on the successful CBS NUMB3RS television show that just happens to be my favorite show! Just as I was going to say something, he darted up and headed to the men’s room and when he returned he was talking on the phone so I didn’t have an opportunity to meet him. Nevertheless, I learned a few things about Mr. Krumholtz. First, he does dress like a bum, sort of like the disheveled appearance he depicts on the show. He ordered a burger, with cheese and nothing else on it, but later he asked the waitress to add some bacon. He also looked kind of shifty, looking around like he was wondering if somebody would recognize him. And plus, he seems to hang out around Caltech (or “Cal Sci” as Caltech is known on the show).

It was great to see my fictional math hero in person. Pie N Burger is turning out to be a great place to hang out for this Physics Groupie!

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