Sunday, April 29, 2007

My Einstein inadequacy

On CSPAN's BookTV this weekend I saw a brief talk by the author of a new book on Einstein. This reminded me of back in my JPL days I got to stay in Einstein's apartment at the CalTech Athenaeum. There was a Joshua Reynolds painting over the fireplace, and the patio overlooking the campus was great (you can see pictures of both here). That night I felt pretty dumb and had trouble falling asleep.

But, it could be that was because it was also the night of the explosion and crash of TWA 800. I sat on Einstein's couch (OK, I think it wasn't the original :) and fiddled with the rabbit ears on the ancient TV (also non-Einstein) to watch news coverage of the accident.

I always thought it was funny that while I was semi-regularly staying at the Athenaeum there were only rabbit-ear TVs, and no air conditioning, which made some summer Pasadena nights pretty unbearable (one night at 2am it was 92 degrees F in the room). I think both of those have been remedied (and a guest elevator installed).

The Athenaeum is known for it's food (I mostly ate downstairs in the Ratheskeller pool hall), and there is even a reference to Einstein in this foodie review.

BTW, I also stayed in the Millikan Suite, but wasn't as intimidated since I don't think he actually lived there :)

One more bit of trivia: the dining room scene of Beverly Hills Cop was filmed at the Athenaeum:
"If you saw Beverly Hills Cop, you've seen the Athenaeum," says Arden Albee, a retired professor of geology and planetary science who is chairman of the club's house committee. The banquet room was used in a food-fight scene in the 1984 movie, which starred Eddie Murphy. The club's porch was used more recently in The Wedding Planner, starring Jennifer Lopez, and features real weddings as well.

The quote is from an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education available only to subscribers, or to anyone who Googles athenaeum albee and clicks "cached" :)

One more bit of trivia: during one of my JPL summers I stayed in Dr. Albee's guest house in the backyard. I think they pretty much forgot that I was staying there since they seemed surprised when I would come up to the main house to pay the rent :)