Time Capsule

A year ago, my family and I moved home to New Zealand after 15 years in the United States.  We’d left New Zealand with suitcases, but returned with a 40-foot shipping container.

A year later we are just getting to the bottom of the last of the boxes, where I discovered a 2001 copy of Pulp  — a glossy New Zealand “fashion and lifestyle” magazine — with me in it.   I’d forgotten that I had been profiled for their “cleverf!*ker” [sic]  column, a regular feature about people with unusual jobs in exotic locations.  At the time, I was a cosmologist living in Manhattan, so I ticked both boxes.

Looking at my answers, I see uncertainty about the future. Not surprising — I was a post-doc, about to tackle the notorious academic job market.  I gave some flippant advice, “Start by getting a PhD”. Well, it’s good advice, since you can’t get a post-doc without being a doc first, but you don’t start with a PhD. I would do a better job of that question today.  And I think I dealt gamely with the questions there to establish the magazine’s own bona fides and to absolve it of the sin of seriousness (“chocolate or strawberries?”).

From where I sit now though, the best part of the article is the sidebar.  They asked me to explain briefly what I do for a living:

“I am a theoretical physicist and my particular focus is cosmology: the study of the origin and evolution of the universe. My research looks at what the universe was like just after the Big Bang and how it evolved into what we see today.”

Still working on this.  Luckily it has only gotten more interesting.  They also asked me where I saw myself in 2010:

“I don’t know where I will be, but wherever in the world I am, my long term aim is to keep a close connection with New Zealand since it’s the only place that feels like home.”

And here I am.