Physics on Tap

Jodi begins her talk about fantastic dark matter and where to find it.

Jodi got invited by the DFW Tap Talks organization to give a short talk for the public. I tagged along for the event. I have always wanted to check out one of these “science on tap” talks, and I was not disappointed! It was a great night of 20 minute talks, one each on physics, artificial intelligence, and biology. In between there was a chance for speakers to mingle with the audience (the event was packed – I had to sit upstairs to get a table), grab a beer, and grab some awesome food.

One of the organizers was a student Jodi and I met thanks to Twitter. She is now pursuing a degree in Physics in the DFW area. It was great to be able to see what she is involved in and to reconnect during the evening.

We stayed at a bed and breakfast in Arlington. We are not kids anymore, and driving all the way back to home across the Metroplex at 10pm was not in the cards for us. Our room at the B&B was great, and even came with a closet with a mysterious door in the back. Pretty sure there was either a lion, a witch, or a wardrobe in there.

Kidding. It was an unfinished attic space.

OR WAS IT.

A Peek into the Secret City

Four of us stood in the lobby of the La Fonda Hotel. The beautiful space sits just off the main square in Santa Fe. You could almost feel the ghosts of the Manhattan Project walk past as people now sat, perhaps unaware, reading papers, waiting for friends, eating in the restaurant, or drinking in the bar. Here, in this lobby, Dorothy McKibben first spotted J. Robert Oppenheimer at the bar; within moments, he would walk over and hire her on-the-spot for the position of head administrator of the Manhattan Project Office in Santa Fe. Not a 3 minutes walk from this lobby was 109 East Palace, the nondescript and unassuming home of that office. Somewhere in this space, but in the distant past, was the voice of Robert Serber joined with other Los Alamos scientists trying to talk loudly and spread the rumor, unsuccessfully, of “electric rockets” in the near-empty hotel bar.

The modern lobby and bar area of the La Fonda Hotel, with its restaurant set off to the right. The bones of this structure remain unchanged since the 1940s, even while its undergone modernizing renovations.

We were here in anticipation of the start the next day of our short course, “The Secret City: Los Alamos and the Atomic Age”. Our students would be people who had elected to participate in the SMU-in-Taos Cultural Institute, a marvelous program that unites alumni, faculty, staff, SMU administration, and others in one place to take short courses in fascinating subjects. These range from golf and wine tasting to presidential history and physics. Here, I recollect some of the three days in which I had the privilege to participate and interact with an incredibly engaged audience.

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