Let's use our imaginations for a second and imagine if you were one of the first explorers of the new world, and say you came across the fabled City of Gold. You're standing in the middle of their equivalent of their town square, and gold surrounds you. The material that you were told from birth to be the rarest material in the world is the most common thing in sight. The thing that your civilization has stolen, lied, and killed for is paved into the roads. Here it is gold, not Gold. It's woven into the threads of rags, people are dusting it off of their feet so as to not track it into their homes. It is so commonly valueless to the inhabitants that they don't even need to offer it to you. You can just take it. It is their dirt.
Take a moment to dwell on this.
Now replace that gold with the concepts of creative potential, intellectual capability, and modern technological resources.
This is an accurate description of what we found at ARTS Lab
We went down to Albuquerque by train to pick up the car that was left by our Gracious Adviser that morning. We decided to spend the day in Albuquerque, starting with lunch at the Flying Star Cafe. During our meal of assorted cheeses (Grilled, Mac'n', and Cream), Simon suggested that we start by visiting ARTS Lab that happened to just be down the road.
The external portion of the building was rather unimpressive, it if felt like we were approaching the undecorated rear of a supermarket. Once inside, however.
Supercomputer Clusters! Green Screen Movie Sets! Fully Functional Miniature Planetariums!
And the people! Remember that metaphor that I mentioned at the beginning. They were beyond eager to help and give us full access to every part of their facilities. Though officially part of UNM, they had difficulty generating participation in the student body. "I think it's because it's so unapproachable," Said Joe Dean, "but really, we love it when people come in with suggestions or ideas." He then returned to work on a new Planetarium presentation on a Quadcore monolith with 16 GB of RAM, one of the slower computers in the Lab. We visited other parts of the lab, talked to really interesting people, sat under the planetarium dome, gawked at their (shockingly impressive but shamefully unused) Supercomputing Server Cluster and before we knew it the day had gone. We left that day full of new business cards and hope. This was certainly the most incredible potential contact for an IQP project center yet!
Our only regret about the entire experience is that we didn't bring a camera.
Oh well, guess we have to go back!