Thursday, July 12, 2012

It’s Summer – Time for Math and Science Fun!

Since I was quite young, I always equated summer time with leisurely pursuing my intellectual interests. Since my parents didn’t believe in vacations, I found myself with an enormous amount of time during those sweltering summer months growing up in the San Fernando Valley. Usually I would spend most of my days in the air-conditioned halls of the engineering building at nearby CSUN with my childhood geek friend Eddy Schmerling. Fast forward a great many years as summer 2012 kicks into high gear, old habits die hard and I found myself walking to the UCLA campus today to once again pursue my interests – astrophysics, mathematics and other hardcore disciplines.  Just moments into my journey, I was met with a very pleasant surprise.

I was walking along Bruin Walk toward the north entrance of the UCLA Store and I heard someone calling my name, “Hey Dan!” Not expecting to see anyone I know in the middle of a work day, I glanced up toward a welcoming face – Professor Andrea Ghez, head of the famed UCLA Galactic Center Group. She had just completed an afternoon swim and was heading across campus to her office at the PAB. 

Talk about serendipity, just as I planned to shake up my summer-science juices, Dr. Ghez gave me a wonderful heads-up about her upcoming trip next week to the Keck observatory on Hawaii’s Big Island where she and her group has multiple nights of concurrent time on both the Keck I and Keck II telescopes. They’re trying something new that’s never been done before with some parallel observations of the galactic center. How exciting is that? I just checked the Keck telescope observing schedule and it shows the UCLA researchers have both Keck I and II July 19 through 22. It sounds like it will be quite a party over at the Waimea science center next week.

So today was a fitting prelude to what I hope will be a captivating summer of science. I hope you all choose to do the same with your summer!

[Inset image shows a group shot at the recent Crafoord Prize celebration event at the UCLA Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics last month, from left to right: James Rosenzweig, Physics Department Chair, Professor Andrea Ghez, Joseph Rudnick, Dean of Physical Sciences, Professor Terrence Tao, and Sorin Popa, Mathematics Department Chair.]