Our first snow of the year arrived last night, so I thought now was a perfect time to look back on summer nights with convertible German sports cars and Bay Area sunsets.
After spending my entire adult life as a laboratory scientist, the web of gas lines and vacuum pumps and electrical cable seems normal. I do understand, rationally, that all of this looks overwhelming. There’s so much purpose and productivity behind the network, however, that it’s worth the sophistication.
In the Berkeley Hills, above the National Lab’s Advanced Light Source, the view over Oakland’s twinkling night sprawl entrances. Look at all of those light-emitting objects! As LED lights have replaced sodium vapor models, I’m particularly fascinated in the shift as cities glow white, instead of orange.
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory sits in the Berkeley Hills, so close to multiple centers of scientific and technological innovation; the intellectual climate on its campus is astonishing. One of the newer facilities on campus is the science-fiction-come-to-life Molecular Foundry. The most dramatic part of the building hangs in space above the bay. I can’t resist the image of a spacecraft coming in for a landing.
That Newtonian worldview (one of cause and effect, of a Universe that is fundamentally understandable), so often criticized as unromantic and clinical, makes this setting transform: where there was once a bucolic sunset over empty fields, there is now a repeating pattern of polymerized sugars on an iron-cored planet, gravitationally bound to a thermonuclear fireball. Isn’t that cooler?