As you may have heard by now, the Gamma-ray Large Area Synoptic Telescope has been renamed from GLAST to Fermi, as in Enrico Fermi (1938 Nobel Prize Winner). This simple act appears to have brought both the NASA and Sonoma websites to all but a halt, but as of 10:30pm Tuesday, they both still say GLAST. Information clearly moves faster than web designers. This amuses me, but it’s not why I write.

While my heart belongs to Boston, my body currently resides in Illinois, which made me note, “Hey, Fermi’s from Chicago, IL.” This will be noted in class tomorrow.

This reminded me that Chandra X-Ray observatory was named after Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar (1983 Nobel Prize), another University of Chicago scholar.

(Furthering amusing me is the ’38 and ’83 pair of prizes.)

Historically, Chicago is one of the truly great physics and astronomy departments. Along with the two laureates listed in this post, I know of at least two others who audited one of Chandra’s classes. That’s at least 4 prizes from one university. That’s pretty cool, but there are a few other schools that have more than one Nobel Prize winner. Part of becoming great is recruiting leaders. Neither of these men were natives of America – both were recruited to Chicago. Fermi came from Italy to Chicago (via Columbia University) in 1946 (although he’d been doing his own special part to make the city “hot” by creating nuclear chain reactions beneath Chicago’s stadium far earlier). Chandra joined the faculty of Chicago in 1937, after getting his PhD at Cambridge (UK), and doing his undergrad in his home country of India.

As near as I can tell, no other university has two of its former faculty commemorated with space telescopes.

This is kind of silly and kind of cool.