Research in physics is more than a job, it’s a passion. We physicists are incredibly lucky to have the freedom to think about how the universe works and to carry out detailed experiments to test that understanding. Obviously this is not only an academic exercise - scientific research in general has always had a strong impact on society as a whole, for example via discoveries that revolutionize human lives. But it has its downsides too, such as funding and career situations, fraud and plagiarism, etc. Luckily, it is also a wonderful human adventure. Recently I was part of an event that reminded me of how lucky I am to be surrounded by so many excellent scientists who are also keen to share their passion and excitement for physics.

If like 16 million people in the world you follow the Humans of New York page on Facebook, you might have come across the story below.

pic2pic1I wrote a comment and offered this young lady a visit of my home department in New York University. I was certainly not expecting the overwhelming reaction: about 50,000 likes, thousands of comments, and hundreds of messages from physics enthusiasts around the world. Reading and responding to all these reactions (which triggered edits of the initial Facebook comment) was extremely enlightening and I will write about what I learned in a separate post.


In fact, someone from NYU physics saw the story on Facebook and started spreading the word and gathering forces to make this visit happen. They contacted me and we got together to organise a great visit. I was amazed to see so much support and excitement in my home department - after all, I have just moved there recently and I am not yet involved in NYU outreach activities. And eventually, we were contacted by the young girl’s family._ A month later (!), Juliana and her mom Carla visited NYU Physics.

We were absolutely thrilled to have them for a full day. The visit was very intense, with numerous meetings and lab tours. I will never thank everyone in NYU enough for giving time and energy and making this visit possible. I think Juliana and Carla really enjoyed it, and hopefully this will have given them a broad picture of what research in physics is. In fact we are lucky to have a very diverse crowd in NYU Physics, in particular in CCPP. Hopefully this will encourage Juliana to preserve her passion for physics and take the time explore her taste and interests in the coming years, to maybe become a scientist if she wishes to. She is a brilliant young girl and has a bright future in front of her, regardless of the path she decides to follow.

Tons of pictures below!

20160120_095345With Gregory Gabadadze (head of NYU Physics)

IMG_20160120_102318At the Hogg-Blanton group meeting. From left to right: Dun, Carla, Juliana, Chang, Benjamen, Michael, Robyn, Daniela
20160120_132200At CCPP
20160120_145900With Ruben Gepner in the lab
IMG_20160120_150113With Ruben Gepner in the lab
IMG_20160120_133123With Kyle Cranmer
IMG_20160120_141956With Michelle Driscoll in the lab
IMG_20160120_155605With Neal Weiner (CCPP)
IMG_20160120_153918With Tycho Sleator in the lab