By Robert Hurt | February 23rd, 2010
There's always something special about running across something in an unexpected context. But living here in Los Angeles somehow the standard metric of penetrating into pop culture is television and movies.
It turns out that this has been a particularly good year for imagery from Spitzer and other missions here at Caltech to make it into the media, and I'm always excited if it's in something I watch on a regular basis. In the last couple of weeks I've run across a Spitzer/Hubble composite of the Orion Nebula tacked onto a wall in Sheldon's apartment in "Big Bang Theory," and a special feature on the "Stargate Universe" DVD collection includes a great ultraviolet shot of the galaxy M33 from the Galex mission.
Having worked with both of those images it's hard for me not to notice... though reviewing older episodes of "Big Bang Theory" I realize the Orion picture has been there at least since last season. I guess I need to work on the powers of observation after all.
Orion in the infrared has been popular in the last year; I also spotted the Spitzer view used as a backdrop for a fleet of Goa'uld starships in "Stargate Continuum."
Other sharp eyes around the Spitzer Science Center have caught some other cameos recently. NGC 1333 flashed up briefly in a Winter Olympics snowboarders ad, and Eta Carinae loomed over Will Ferrell movie "Stranger than Fiction."
Last month I made perhaps the oddest public sighting of a Spitzer image. While riding the Washington DC metro I caught a glimpse of the Sombrero Galaxy used as an inset in an ad for... a dentist.
Really? Maybe it looks like an open mouth to someone, but hey, I love seeing this stuff regardless of how non sequitur it may be!