I am talking about Dr. John Mather. The 2006 Nobel Prize winner in Physics for his work in the Cosmic Microwave Radiation Background. It is remarkable because his work has been a fundamental backstory of much of the current research into the Big Bang or the early Universe. Currently he is the primary researcher working on the next generation telescope ( the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope ) – the James Web Space Telescope.
Well how does it feel? I didn’t really know. To be fair I am still not sure what I felt was because I was talking to someone who had won a Nobel prize or because he is one of the premier most personalities in Astrophysics. I myself do not view the prize as important however one thing that I have learned is that we are seldom accurate about our feelings.
I learned that he was going to give a lecture at my campus and couldn’t believe that someone that important was coming. Well my disbelief was true to a certain extent as it was going to be a video lecture. I had written to Dr. Mather to meet him when he came. He informed me of the situation and then continued to suggest that we talk on the phone instead. I was not expecting that. Forget about talking to me, he was willing to take time out from his incredibly busy schedule at NASA and take the effort to talk to me over the PHONE!!! I would have thought that if it was a video lecture then at most he would politely inform me and then apologize (although it really would not have been his fault). But here I was, invited to talk to one of the most important figures in the branch of science that I eventually wish to make a career out of.
What it felt like? well for one I forgot everything that I had planned on saying. Still he was really very polite and did not at all rush things (even though I doubt I was making much sense – well I wasn’t making much to myself). We talked about what I have planned for my future and how I plan on pursuing astrophysics. We talked about his lecture at my campus (which I had missed by the way 😦 ). And we talked about how we could reach each-other later on. I had taken great precaution to make sure the phone call went perfect, I had seen all of his videos on YouTube and read his book, but it still did not truly prepare me for the experience. It had nothing to do with what he said or what I said. Just that I was talking to Dr. John Mather was substantial in my mind. How do express when you get the chance to talk to someone like him.
Those of you who have read my earlier posts know my fascination with Richard Feynman (OH!!! and we also talked about reading Feynman) – everyone has some idol like that. For those that have their idols outside their families, how it must feel like when they get to meet them in person or talk to them. I guess that’s what it felt like for me – Can’t really describe it.