Thursday, September 12, 2013

Flying High

It has been an intense summer full of action and as usual, the blog has taken a back seat. But with the cool weather on it's way and lots to announce, I am going to be making a renewed effort to chime in more often.

I flew back from teaching in the midwest recently and thought it a tale worth sharing. No, it's not an airplane horror story. I actually enjoy flying. I know, it sounds masochistic, but I still think that it is amazing that I can wake up on the east coast and have lunch in the midwest. When I get to the airport, I focus on people watching and I go to the "happy place". This is where I work out the design or tooling issues that I never have time for back home.
Upon boarding the plane, I usually put my shop hearing protection on to keep the screaming babies and busybody neighbors out of my head. This trip was a bit different. I glanced over at the man next to me and noticed that he was reading a paper about Niels Bohr, who was a giant of physics of the last century. My hobby is finding lectures aimed at the laymen about folks like Bohr. After a few minutes, I broke the barrier of my "happy place" and took off the earmuffs and asked him about the paper. It turns out that he is a chemical physicist and a Professor Emeritus at Harvard. He was delightfully willing to chat at a level that I could follow and we spent the entire flight discussing science, creativity and education. It was fantastic. Near the end, he gave me his card with an image like the one below.
Apparently, he made a guest appearance on the Simpsons in 2003. I was tickled that his card said "Best Known as a Guest Voice on the Simpsons".
We parted and I went on my way home to unpack my tools and get ready for the next hurdle. Later that night, on a lark, I googled his name, Dudley Hershbach and immediately broke out in laughter. You see, he mentioned the Simpsons, but left out his Nobel Prize in 1986!
Thanks Dudley, you made my year.


Bill Palmer said...

Wow! Great Story Pete!
The meeting of two great minds. When I attended one of your seminars, I have to admit I kept thinking you shouldn't be designing chairs, but rather designing ways for us to get out of the pickle we humans have gotten ourselves into. But since you're not, what was that splay angle again?

Peter Galbert said...

Thanks Bill,
it was a fantastic experience. By the way, the splay is 10

NPC said...

Explaining why electrons orbit the nucleus and how to layout sightlines to us mouthbreathers is equally daunting!

Patrick Tipton said...

Great story Pete. All these little twists of fate makes life that much more interesting if you are paying attention!

Peter Galbert said...

Good to hear from you Pat!

The Circuit Rider said...

That is a great adventure, thanks for sharing it.
Pete, you made my year last week. It was adventure that I wasn't sure I could make. Now that the first part of my new journey is complete, I hope to go on and make another chair. Thank you so much!

Bern said...

I love stories like that Pete. The best person I've ever sat next to were the 2 empty seats all the way from London to Oz. In the context of other long haul flights I've taken it was a truly profound experience. A single bed on an economy ticket!?!