Monday, May 07, 2007

STAR Shift Troopers

More like Star Trek. A day the life in the STAR Control room during RHIC Run 7, but as covered by the New York Times (regional). Holy moly:
Thomas A. Trainor, 62, a physics professor from the University of Washington, who was at the control panel, invoked another metaphor, likening the control room to the bridge of the Enterprise in “Star Trek.”

“That’s Captain Kirk over there,” said Dr. Trainor, pointing to the shift leader, a spry 81-year-old physics professor from U.C.L.A., George Igo. He was accumulating collision data from the experimental run and amassing an impressive pile of pistachio shells on his desk. “I’m just the bookkeeper,” Dr. Igo said.

Dr. Trainor continued, “You could say I’m Sulu, at the controls, but when the captain tells me, ‘I want things run this way,’ I do it.”

“He’s Chekov,” Dr. Trainor said, pointing to Jan Kapitan, 26, a doctoral student in nuclear physics from the Czech Republic. Then he turned to a tall man monitoring the alarm systems, Peter Filip, who works for a research group from Moscow.

“He’s Scotty,” Dr. Trainor said, “because if something goes wrong, he has to respond.”


“The ‘Star Trek’ metaphor is very appropriate,” Dr. Trainor said. “Did you know the idea for the show was actually based on the voyages of Captain Cook? It is evocative of what we do here. The detector is not actually moving, but this is a voyage.”
But seriously, not all of us watch Star Trek. Some of us watch...Battlestar Galactica. You know, the new series. So different than the older one, and so much better.

1 comment:

Paul Stankus said...

P --
Good that you picked this up, but you missed remarking on what might be the most egregious fault in the piece: not out-of-date SF references but blatant sexism. The second sentence in the article begins "But a group of men viewing wide-screen monitors in a control room...." accompanying a photo that included two women watching a STAR monitor. Personally I think this is an unfortunate price to pay for the sake of a lame NFL-couch-potato analogy.

Check with K. and see what she thinks....