Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Big Bang University

Locals will recognize NASA's Caltech/Jet Propulsion Lab, which looks like a college campus. I remember being surprised about that when I first saw it. I think I expected something high-tech and sleek, like from a sci-fi movie about a "jet propulsion lab," because I didn't know what a "jet propulsion lab" was. I still don't.

My neighbor is one of the geniuses who developed the Planck Space Telescope. It just started collecting data last week. On its mission to "collect light left over from the Big Bang explosion that created our universe," this telescope is looking to help scientists like my neighbor answer the question of how the universe came into being.

I live across the street from that guy. He's nice. How does he even have a conversation with me?

If you enlarge this photo you can see the birdie.

21 comments:

Shell Sherree said...

Ooooh, I see the birdie!!!

Italo said...

I can't imagine to speak with a scientist like him.
"Ehi, the pizza is ready. Can you count three minutes and put the tomato sauce on it?"
"Well, how I can count? In seconds, or in light years? And for the mozzarella. How I have to put it on the pizza? Like Pisces constellation, Pegasus or a delicious Phoenix?"

sister trish said...

this is great, petrea. on and on about science and jet propulsion and exploring the universe, then down to the important stuff........how to see the birdie! perfect. good birdie.

Margaret said...

I know what you mean. A few weeks ago, a Cal Tech physicist I know sat down to lunch with me and told me about...I don't even remember what he told me about, it was confusing,, but I was very impressed and felt very privileged to have such access to information.

Petrea said...

Note to Shell, Italo, Trish, and other out of town visitors: Margaret explains what many Pasadenish often experience. Because Pasadena is home to JPL and Caltech (institutions of which we are very proud, mind you), ordinary citizens often find themselves in such conversations. We treasure these moments and sometimes come home and Google the bits we can remember.

Petrea said...

Trish, do you think you'll ever start a blog of your own?

Turquoise Diaries said...

You definitely have some cool neighbours :))

Lori Lynn said...

Nice shot, it is terrific enlarged. Really get the feel of the area...
LL

Trish said...

P---I grew up in sopas...I know JPL well. My grandparents neighbors consisted of several JPL'ers and CalTech'ers. I lived up the street from one of the SETI guys too and went to college with the daughter of another JPL big whig. Like living amongst "stars", they are regular people, but they are all around in the LA Basin.

We know a guy who professes about string theory. He is EXCELLENT about dumbing it down so the really bright folks can vaguely understand...but don't ask me to tell you what he said. It made sense at the time, but that last lesson was over a year ago...I'm a little fuzzy on string theory.

P...if you check out Susan's blog you'll find a link to my blog...but it has a decidedly different reason for existing than yours.

Bellis said...

When I'm walking in Hahamongna I always look at those rather low-key buildings nestled against the hillside and think "Wow! There are people in there right now communicating with rovers on Mars!"

By the way, I think they called it Jet Propulsion Lab rather than Rocket Lab so as not to worry the neighbors.

दूर्जेय चेतना said...

beautiful story and nice shot.ohh birdie..it's cool; i like it.

Bernadette Joolen, Beautiful Dreamer... said...

Petrea, What a fun story, and how lovely to discover your beautiful blog. I enjoy the news and views of home!~~cheers from a (now) seattle girl, bernadette (phs 1974!)

p.s. Come visit mine if you want a view of life from the north.=)

Andreea said...

Being an engineer and into science I can tell you that this place is my Mecca. I would love to have neighbors who work at such a place and be able to talk to them about their work.

Petrea said...

It's indeed a thrill, Andreea (Trish and Bellis describe it well). We know the likes of Feynman and Einstein once walked these streets; we know their likes still do.

Turquoise Diaries, I agree!

Thank you, Lori Lynn

दूर्जेय चेतना, nice to see you again!

Welcome, Bernadette, and thanks for your visit. I'll bet Pasadena has done some changing since you left!

pasadenapio said...

We are so fortunate to have them here. I have had the pleasure of taking many "back steps" tours that are not included in the public open houses. What a magnificent experience!

Cafe Pasadena said...

P, just hope your High-Tech neighbor isn't asking the same question.

Cafe Pasadena said...

BLT, or is it BTW? Anyhows, I've met a few CalTechers & JPLers at my neighborhood cafe, EuroPane.

I can actually have a conversation with these "aliens." I don't know if I should be most impressed with that, or that they should being able to have a chat with a K9. Thank God EP is dog friednly & has doggy bones!

Petrea said...

Yes we are, Ann. For so many reasons.

Good to know, Cafe. I'll take Boz next time.

sister trish said...

woah, two chicks named trish. i'm sister trish, katiefornia's sister trish. hi petrea! hello other trish! katie and i went to high school in a town where there was/is a nuclear research laboratory, so we were in school with the offspring of phd nuclear physicists and phd chemists, etc. etc. i remember one fateful day sitting in the back of class in calculus (with kent goodman, cute basketball player) and both rolling our eyes and pretty much giving up when a fellow student raised his hand and launched into, "mr. fong, couldn't you come to the same result if you took the derivative of.....blahblahblahblah" no idea what he was talking about. analytic trigonometry, no problem, but calculus just kicked my butt. my brain just turned o-f-f. when scientists/mathematicians start talking, i sort of fog over, like when the kids in peanuts are unhappy about something and there are just scribbles over their heads, like storm clouds. does not compute....

Almost Precious said...

Saw the birdie, so cute. But also saw the lovely foothills of California and was overcome with nostalgia, how I miss her. Guess it's true what they say about; "You can take the boy out of the country, but you can't take the county out of the boy"...I'll always be a California gal at heart.

Petrea said...

Hi Sister Trish--I wasn't confused, only glad to see you here! Our other Trish is a whiz, fountain of California knowledge. You're a storyteller. I like reading about memories and your adventures because you tell them so well.

Do you ever visit, Almost Precious? No relatives here? I have the same nostalgic feelings for Illinois, and I get my occasional visits back. But California's my home now. If I moved away, I'd miss those foothills, too.