Trip Start Sep 09, 2008
10Trip End Feb 16, 2009
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Today I had dinner and wine with three young researchers, some of the rare type that are brilliant scientists as well as human beings. Two are Japanese transfers to Berkeley, and one is a Princeton-based physicist.
It amazes me how little they seem to think of themselves and their achievements. Part of this, in the case of the two Japanese guys, could simply be the modesty taught in their home country, but I can't explain the other. These three have been working for a few years with the foremost crusty old scientists in the field at the geographic South Pole and elsewhere, researching, among other things that the rest of us will never understand, the Cosmic Microwave Background, dark matter, and the nature of the universe .000000000000000001 seconds after the Big Bang. One of them is also an accomplished musician--he played circles around me in the music room--and another says his dream is "to make space flight affordable to average person."
Yet when I marvel at their persistence, dedication and, no doubt, natural ability, they scoff and only say how "boring" physics must be to normal people. And they don't mean the "normal, monosynaptic ignorant masses;" I think they genuinely view themselves as hopeless geeks that, though not unhappy with their choice of profession, are not particularly proud of it. But I think they're amazing.