Moe's BBQ North (Denver)
Denver, CO 80203
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Tom Lehrer is one of America's great treasures. I keep forgetting he's still alive, which is bad on my part, but you should all know who he is. I can't honestly say that he was a pioneering mathematician, but he was pretty damned brilliant - who the hell graduates from Harvard at 19? Yeah. Then he got his masters. Then he went to war. Then he decided to turn to music. Most famous is Poisoning Pigeons In The Park, but I'm partial to We Will All Go Together When We Go and The Vatican Rag. Up until 2001, he continued to teach math at UC Santa Cruz, as well as musical theater.
Why am I such a Tom Lehrer fan? Because he's what a geek should be. Sure, he was great at math. Smart as all hell. But he didn't define himself by his one ability. He wasn't a pathetic aspie like you see on The Big Bang Theory (geek blackface - I hate that show). The guy got out there and had fun. I bet he'd kick ass at Geeks Who Drink. He published proofs in peer reviewed publications, he served in the infantry, and he wrote songs about the clap. I'd buy the man a beer.
Y'know who else was awesome? Richard Feynman. Without a doubt the scientist I would most like to meet (but can't) (unless I invent a time machine). He snuck in and out of the Los Alamos research base just because he didn't feel like dealing with security. Well, he actually just snuck out. Then he kept walking back in past security, who was confused because he never checked out with them. Also on base, where he was working on the Manhattan Project, he learned to pick locks and made a habit of getting access to some of the most classified information in the US. The official response was not to improve locks or security, but to never leave Feynman alone. He took up the bongos while doing some guest lectures in Brazil. He was recruited by NASA to investigate the Challenger disaster. And he was one of the pioneering thinkers in quantum mechanics. Even one of the primary diagrams used to describe quantum states is his (the Feynman diagram). Again, somebody who would totally rock at Geeks Who Drink.
I'll close this out with one of the biggest names in science today: Neil deGrasse Tyson. I was fortunate enough to see him speak in Boulder a few months ago. Again, an absolutely brilliant mind, but also an excitement and a joy to share his knowledge that you rarely see. It's not enough for him to know and learn - he wants everyone else to see the beauty of the universe, too. He wants 8 year olds to look up at the stars and not only share his wonder, but to have the information at their fingertips to teach them everything we know. He wants science to be the cool thing. He wants to bring back an age where every American knows the name of every astronaut, and every kid wants to go to space.
These are the geeks I aspire to be like. I can't be as smart as them, but I can always learn. And I can use that knowledge to piss you off with inane questions and drink beer. And isn't that what man has longed to do since first we looked up at the stars? ...Kif, I'm asking you a question.