Tell me what brought you to CBU, what was the journey like to get here?
I’ve never been to the place before. [I was] trying to find the place and I come to this building, the James Building it was thee building and nothing else was really around and there wasn’t the Yeager building or anything. This was 23 years ago. And I go up to the second floor and walked right into the office and walked right over to the desk, and I had my resume and I said, “I understand there is an opening for a physics position here and the guy looked at me at his first comment was, “Well, not really. We already have someone who we’ve made an offer to.” That didn’t bother me, because I knew I was supposed to be there. Why would God send me here if I weren’t supposed to be here? Why would he use an atheist to tell me I’m suppose to be here, if I’m not suppose to be here.
I am quoting that line right there.
I wanted to tell them and lean over the table and say, “Look the other guy isn’t coming.” Even then the department didn’t know it at the time. The other guy couldn’t take the job. Then they offered me the job.
How has CBU grown then since you’ve been here?
Well, when I came here it was 600 something students. And now it’s 5,600 maybe. It’s huge compared to then, and there are a lot more buildings and everything, so it’s vastly different. There wasn’t even carpet. There was green-painted concrete. Some floors were painted green and some floors were grey. They just painted the concrete. Not even carpet.
So where did your interest in physics come from?
My dad was a high school physics and math teacher. Originally, I thought I’d go math, and I did spend some time in graduate school taking math classes. I spent several graduate math classes maybe 40 hours of semester hours in math classes. My dad, at one point, had to decide between either math or physics. For whatever reason, the school wanted him to decide between teaching one or the other, and he chose physics. I asked him why and he said because physics was more enjoyable. I must have been 9 or 10, so of course my dad had a big influence over me. But then, I can remember throughout my life several things happening that I had to know why, you know? I soon learned that physics is the most fundamental of all sciences, so if you want to ask the most fundamental questions about nature that get as simple as it gets, you need physics.
So people that know you, know you have interests beyond physics.
Another story I don’t tell other people about is, I actually came out to California for Hollywood. That’s why I finished my PH.D. out here. A few years ago, my wife and I decided to pay for one summer class at the New York Film academy at Universal studios, and I finally made my first professional short film. I made another film with a friend back in college with an 8mm. It did good. It went to several film festivals. I have my second one that is being edited right now. I have gazillion ideas in my head for film, I just need the time to do them. I am actually going on sabbatical this summer related to film in the fall.
I invented this class, and when I say invent I think it’s unique that across the country, I don’t know another Physics of Hollywood class. I invented this class last year and have only taught it twice now and part of my sabbatical in the fall is to go to movie sets and collect the data and techniques used in making film in all levels and all stages of the film process and talk about all the science behind it and possibly write a book and write manuals.
If you had to choose between physics or film right now, which would you choose?
You mean if I had to choose between physics, film or being a rapper? I’m a pretty good rapper. I like B.O.B and Nicki Minaj is pretty good to. Right now, I would choose film. That’s what I’d do.