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May 2021

Michael Alexander

Dear Friends:

I don't know if a month passes faster now during this pandemic and lockdown, but I have been continually surprised at how quickly those 28 to 31 days roll by each time, giving me another opportunity to write my regular letter to you.

This "once-in-a-century" global outbreak has brought medical researchers together worldwide, joining forces to focus on finding vaccines and treatments for COVID-19. Now that their efforts have blessed us with a number of vaccine options, those of us in the people-gathering businesses are starting to look at protocols that will allow us to re-open programs inside our performance halls and return to the exciting work of connecting live artists with live audiences. That much-anticipated scenario is still a ways off, though, and here at Caltech we will continue to offer online-only programs at least through the end of the calendar year.

As those of you who follow Public Programming through these newsletters know, we have found a variety of ways to continue to serve you, our audience, through online events over the last year. Some artists have even created programs that took their art to a higher level as they adapted to this pandemic-caused reality. And even as we cannot wait to return to in-person events, we also realize there will continue to be great opportunities to serve our audience with online programming. Keep your eyes open for programs coming from places well beyond your local time zone.

OUR FACULTY HAS TALENT: Konstantin Batygin and I recently recorded a conversation about the role that music plays in his life. A Caltech professor of planetary science who earned his PhD from Caltech in 2012, he is one of the most highly regarded scientists of his generation, hailed by Forbes as "the next physics rockstar" (2016), and a "brilliant 10" researcher by Popular Science (2015). Batygin is also a rock and roll musician who was invited to play with the Miami Symphony Orchestra (MISO) when its music director composed a piece for orchestra and electric guitar that celebrates Planet Nine, the gigantic planet that Batygin postulates is circling the sun beyond Pluto (the now demoted dwarf planet). Join us on Wednesday, May 26 at 5 p.m. to hear him play with one of his rock and roll bandmates and with MISO, tell us about his journey to Caltech, and respond to your questions. This online event is the first in a new series called Out of the Lab that will feature talented members of our faculty and research staff who also enjoy active lives in the arts.

DO YOU KNOW A STROKE SURVIVOR? Last November, we presented Blood/Sugar, a play about diabetes performed and written by Diana Wyenn. She recently directed A Lesson in Swimming, a radio play featuring John Zalewski that focuses on his recovery from a stroke. It is now available for free at www.alessoninswimming.com. We expect to be able to share information soon on how to access Blood/Sugar for free as well.

None of our events would be possible without the generous support of the Friends of Beckman Auditorium (who also are behind our Science Journey efforts). Please consider joining to help us continue to serve the public as we have for nearly 60 years.

Until another 31 days race by, best wishes and thanks for being part of our community,

Michael