Obama visited campus last Friday, and boy oh boy was it quite the shakedown. Apparently some of the girls in McCormick got locked down for being in the Penthouse (=top floor) watching the motorcade come in from Memorial Drive. (Secret Service FTW?). Not being of the ruling energy elite here at MIT, I watched the simulcast in the completely-packed 26-100, one of the big physics lecture halls on campus. It was actually almost as interesting to see a cross-section of the MIT student body watch the speech; hear them groan at Obama saying "Innovation is in our DNA!" -- or hear them cheer (LOUD) that MIT was the most prestigious school in Cambridge --- or hear them laugh at the business card Angie Belcher gave him of the Periodic Table.
But---there is something to be said for the fact that people like the Dalai Lama and Obama come here not because we pay them, or because we have some sort of political alliance going on. It's because we are innovators, and even through our absolutely absurdity** we are going to discover and MacGyver our way to some pretty amazing things. That's why people come here.
**I got rid of my cardboard boxes from moving last night to someone I thought was moving at the end of the month. Nope, just building a cardboard replica of British Parliament to blow up on Guy Fawkes Day. Go MIT.
Additionally, he was pretty amazed by some of work I'll be teaching undergrads in a few short weeks - how to use viruses as a template for making batteries. It sounds space-age, but it is most definitely real.
The guy in the green is "Army John" and my contact in the Belcher Lab for the nanowires project that I'll be TAing. He's wonderful. And, no, labs don't really look like this. All flammable materials, gas cylinders, hazards, etc...were removed before he came, so it was basically like a windowless room with lots of shelves. Not science, but I guess that's what happens when you're afraid of terrorists.
For more coverage on Obama's speech:
Blogger at Discover Magazine