History Worth Repeating

THIS JUST IN: This rest-of-the-story stuff is a universally (pardon the pun) appealing thing.

One of the absolute kingpins of this genre is award-winning author and Guggenheim Fellow Richard Panek, who penned the masterful 2011 book, The 4% Universe: Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and the Race to Discover the Rest of Reality – a detailed, behind-the-scenes story of the 2011 Nobel Prize-winning discovery that the universe’s expansion is accelerating. In the book, Panek saw fit to give due credit to (among others) Texas A&M astronomer Nick Suntzeff for his early work in Chile that essentially began the field of supernova cosmology.

Yesterday, in his Last Word On Nothing blog entry, Panek shares some vintage Nick Suntzeff – precisely the kind of trademark insight Nick is known for and to which I referred in this very blog last week.

History disease. The one chronic condition we could all be so fortunate to contract, sooner rather than later. Wonder if it’s contagious, not to mention as essential to groundbreaking research as masking tape and aluminum foil?

Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO), Nick Suntzeff's astronomical home for 20 years prior to coming to Texas A&M. (Credit: Tim Abbott, CTIO.)

Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO), Nick Suntzeff’s astronomical home for 20 years prior to coming to Texas A&M. (Credit: Tim Abbott, CTIO.)

For some additional history on Nick, check out one of the historically significant things he did as an undergraduate at Stanford that continues to educate and inspire to this day.

Yeah, he built that. But here’s how he described his contribution to elite higher education institutional history to me when I originally stumbled across the information:

“It seems not too long ago, a friend and I had no idea what we were doing, but a really supportive physics professor let us believe we could build the thing. He really was the key to this project. It is fun to see it still there at Stanford. I was amused to find out that it is well known as a romantic place on warm evenings. That is, romantic for couples, not astronomers who would be up in the dome cursing whatever is not working and drinking way too much coffee while squinting at a flickering screen and listening to totally forgettable ’60s classic rock. Not a pretty picture.”

Beats the hell outta befriending black widows, in my opinion.

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