The Basketball Player is Attracted to Understanding Physics’ Mysteries
University of Houston basketball walk-on and electrical engineering student Caleb Broodo only has one word to describe his collegiate experience – surreal.
The Cullen College of Engineering profiled Broodo’s journey at UH, juggling his basketball and academic careers. You can read the full profile here.
In addition to his engineering studies, Broodo is attracted to unraveling the mysteries of physics. In particular, he was studying quantum mechanics, signal processing and analysis of chirp signals with Donald J. Kouri, Ph.D.
Unfortunately, Kouri passed away from complications related to his heart in February 2021. However, Broodo said that Kouri was still inspiring his current studies and mindset.
“This weekend I am going to visit his lovely wife, Shirley, who says that Dr. Kouri had wanted me to pick up textbooks from his extensive library at home,” Broodo said. “I find comfort in thinking he is still assigning me homework. I am reading and learning about what he did, the people across the world whose scientific careers were propelled by him and the scientific contributions he made, of which fascinates me.”
Broodo added, “I hadn't realized until November of last year that he was going through all of these things related to his health while I was doing research with him. Despite dealing with that, he still found a way for me to come over his house, and to give lectures to me. That’s the highest level of commitment an instructor could give, and it is something I can only wish to give to a student of mine someday.”
Broodo is completing the research he and Kouri started with Gemunu Gunaratne, Ph.D., Moores Professor of Physics.
“Dr. Gunaratne is an excellent instructor,” Broodo said. “I am incredibly grateful he was willing to continue mentoring me after Dr. Kouri’s passing. I'm very much looking forward to the work he and I will be doing together.”
“I can't emphasize enough how much of an impact Dr. Kouri made on my life, and how he essentially motivated me to pursue science at the highest level,” Broodo said. “That's a feeling I hope I can cultivate in someone, not even necessarily about science, but to give them a sense of passion of their choosing.”
As of now, Broodo is interested in research opportunities and possibly teaching, after he earns his advanced degrees.
“I don't know how good of a teacher I would be, but I certainly would be interested in giving to others what Dr. Kouri and other instructors had given to me,” he said. “I think my principal interest right now is to do research related to gravity. I've always found gravity peculiar. It, like electricity, is an overwhelming force that somehow acts at a distance, a difficult proposition for some to accept. The contributions Newton made, somehow realizing that the force that made an apple fall to the ground was the same force that governed the motion of the planets, was brilliant. Einstein, who was a genius, took that a step forward by introducing general relativity, which incorporates the idea of the spacetime geometry. The more I learn about general relativity, such as how it demonstrates that gravity is illusionary, the more I get foaming at the mouth. Due to modern technology, we have a chance to live the implications and discoveries Einstein predicted a century ago, such as observing gravitational waves. It’s mind-boggling how Newton and Einstein and several other scientists came up with their ideas. It makes you feel that the possibilities and imagination of the mind is absolutely unbounded. The human brain is pretty amazing.”
Broodo already has a research opportunity lined up for the summer.
“I am planning on conducting functional analysis of gravitational wave observations made at LIGO [Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observer] Laboratory this summer,” he said. “This is a special opportunity for me because I get to continue Dr. Kouri’s work, and I get to do something related to Einstein’s predictions. Einstein was someone I revered my entire life. He's my hero, and he makes me proud to be Jewish.”
With another laugh, Broodo apologized for the “massive information dump.”
“It’s pretty obvious how much I enjoy talking about physics, isn't it?” he said.
- Stephen Greenwell, Cullen College of Engineering