I don’t want to boast, but from the start I was willing to bet that there was going to be a universe, and I hit the nail on the head; on the question of its nature, too, I won plenty of bets…
— Italo Calvino, “How Much Shall We Bet?” from Cosmicomics
Hi. I’m a young American physicist in the process of making a mid-career shift into a new field of research (well, quite an old field, but relatively new for me): astronomy.
In the process of making this shift, I’m also making another shift along the surface of the Earth: from America, where I’ve lived my entire life, to Australia, where I’ve never been before — except for a quick virtual tour of the streets of Canberra through Google Earth, which conveys some information but hardly counts as life experience. It’s a bit of a gamble, really, but I like the odds.
At the current time, it’s rather late on Tuesday night / Wednesday morning, and I’m still full of good Indian food from Thali, an excellent Indian restaurant in New Haven, CT. I’ve eaten at this place many times before with various prominent scientists visiting Yale University, where I’ve been employed for the past three and a half years. Tonight’s feast, the remnants of which are in my fridge, was the goodbye dinner to which my present research group very kindly treated me. I leave New Haven this Sunday for a whirlwind tour of the States, seeing old friends and making new ones over the next month before finally leaving for Down Under near the end of September. I’ve spent much of the remainder of the evening posting online ads to sell most of my furniture, making travel plans, and the like. I still have customs forms to fill out.
I plan to spend this week talking about where I’ve been so far, setting the stage for talking about basically anything I want in the future: the quick overview of my experiences at Yale, what I mean when I describe myself as “young” (debatable, really), what I mean when I identify as an “astronomer” as opposed to a “physicist”. Much of my writing will be about science, perhaps less about the topics I’m researching (I’ll likely write those up elsewhere) than about scientific topics I find interesting in general, as well as the mechanics and daily grind of doing science. My experiences with science inform almost all aspects of my world view, from religion to relationships, so in writing about science I will naturally come to write about those things also. I will also, naturally, say a lot about my experiences in Australia, as well as my travels to other locales, which I expect to be much more frequent in my new position than in the past.
More later after I’ve slept.