Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The (Rail) Road to the Renaissance of RHIC on the Ring Road

How things change. In 2005, James Simons and Renaissance Partners made an astute investment in science, by funding the last 10% of the RHIC budget for 2006 -- one that literally made 100% of the science possible (remember that most of the budget is taken up in fixed costs). The lab thanked him for his generosity several years ago in a major ceremony, but tomorrow will take the appreciation one step further. The RHIC Ring Road, running along the inside of the collider ring (i.e. it's official, but mainly descriptive -- I don't think I've ever seen a green sign on the road itself) will now be called Renaissance Circle. And the road joining it to the lab will be transformed from the prosaic, but obsolete "Railroad Ave" (also descriptive of the truth, as a track runs alongside it, but this time with green signs) becomes Renaissance Road. So you take Renaissance Road to Renaissance Circle for the new era of RHIC experiments. A lot catchier -- and modern -- than taking Railroad to Ring Road. But it's not in our job description to be catchy: we're scientists, folks, not poets (at least not most of us!)

The only nitpick I can make with the new naming is that a "renaissance" indicates a revival of something lost along the way. Last I checked, RHIC has been incredibly productive, without missing a beat, for almost 10 years now. That said, an undeniable renaissance in science has certainly taken place with the arrival of the Obama administration, which is redoubling efforts to support science nationwide -- and the presence of the Department of Energy tomorrow (William Brinkman, from the Office of Science) makes that clear to all of us.

See you there (esp. at the Autism walk around the RHIC ring at Noon)

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