We were supposed to meet Clay at a pizza place in Farnsworth, Il at 11:30 AM but were stymied by the restaurant opening at noon.Â We pulled up early and I exchanged odd glances with some I thought was he which terminated in the “I’m looking at you” face.Â He then cocked his head and got out of his car, leading me to believe I’d just gone crazy sniper stalker on someone I didn’t know.Â I found out a few minutes later that he’d jumped in Peter’s car that was on the other side of his parked macro-van.
I ordered Ach-n-Lou’s supreme which was $22 but as each slice weighed 9 lbs I felt I got value.Â The pizza was so massive I could polish off a mere 2 slices and that was all I ate for the next 18 hours or so.Â There I also got a bad ass picture of Mike.
FermiLab’s Wilson Hall towers over the surrounding plain as a citadel of science and everything there helped this idiom.Â Even the handicapped sign guy was charging for science.
The opening presentation was neat as were the site tour stops but the Ask-a-Scientist program was the real reason I wanted to be there.Â For the last two years, I’ve had a question that I never got answered ofÂ “if photons can only exist at discrete energy levels due to quantization, does the redshift occur stepwise or continuously across expanding space”.Â The answer is “Terry, you’re a moron.”Â The slightly more detailed answer is “while emission photons have discrete energy levels they may occupy, a dozen other things like interactions with electrons, a bunch of scattering phenomena, and other interactions are continuous leading to photons existing at all possible energy levels”.Â During the Ask-A-Scientist program cookies and punch were served, which I wasn’t expecting and we got hear yet another round of otherwise avuncular particle physicists get angry at having lost the chance to finish the Superconducting Supercollider in Texas.
One scientist took us under his wing and allowed us to pepper him with questions at one point uttering the phrase “spectrometers are fucking complicated”.Â This was very humanizing and coupled with the washed and dirty view of the accelerator cooling ponds made particle physics much grittier than it is in my head.
Throughout the weekend I had a persistent photographic challenge of getting a reasonable headshot of Suzie.Â She has somewhat cherubic features which requires a larger depth of field than I normally use for portraits, slowing the shutter time, making a lot of scenarios low light.Â As Peter peppered Dr. Dave Christian, I got one.
I chose to drive the first leg back but after about 45 minutes I felt a sleepy.Â I looked around the car and everyone else was asleep so I slowly raised the radio volume until some woke up and I asked to switch with them.Â The rest is snow, roads, a very aggressive vagrant in a Cincinnati gas station, and sleep.