N e a l  H u r l b u r t
Physicist
Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory, Palo Alto CA

A close-up of positive and negative magnetic fields on the Sun.

Likes/Dislikes About Career

The best thing about this job is that I get to do most of the things I like best, and am reasonably free to choose what I want to work on. I spend most of my time reading, writing and thinking about the Sun, trying to understand how it works. But, since what we do here involves so many pictures, I get to spend lots of time making movies, and have many opportunities to work with television shows like "Live from the Sun". My old department chairman was right; it is possible to do television with a physics degree!
It may look like a video game, and you can "drive" through the magnetic carpet using that joystick, but it's based o n the latest science from TRACE, SOHO and other spacecraft!

The thing I like least is that I don't get much time to be in the wilderness, particularly to share it with my children. I spend most of my time sitting in the office or meetings and commuting between work and home. And my choices of where I can work in solar physics are limited so I don't have much freedom to choose where to live. Sometimes I think I should have become a forest ranger after all. But then I recall when I ran into my old skiing buddy, just before I got my Ph.D. After seven years following the snow, he was in college studying physics! So I am probably better off where I am.

Personal Information

I live in San Jose, Calif. with my wife and three kids. When we can we get out to the mountains and beaches. My wife and I spend lots of time volunteering in our kids' school during the school year. We try to travel to Europe and Seattle every year or so to visit our relatives and friends.


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