A Berkeley astronomer located a couple of thieves and assisted police in apprehending them, after working overtime in search for alien life.
Catching villains red-handed is obviously not among the job duties and responsibilities corresponding to Howard Isaacson, who normally devotes all his time to examining exoplanets, due to his involvement in the California and Carnegie Planet Search, and in the Kepler Mission, launched and funded by NASA.
Every day, the Berkeley astronomer analyzes data collected thanks to the High Resolution Echelle Spectrometer (HIRES) and the Keck Telescope, positioned close to the summit of Mauna Kea, in Hawaii, in the hope of identifying an extrasolar planet whose composition, size, density and mass are similar to our own planet’s.
Isaacson’s ultimate aim is to discover such a celestial body located in the Goldilocks zone, where conditions are ideal for liquid water to exist at the surface, which would also fulfill one of the main requirements so that life can flourish.
Crime fighting has never been at the top of the priority list for this dedicated scientist, but that’s exactly what Isaacson ended up doing on February 18, as he was about to leave his laboratory housed in Campbell Hall.
At approximately 11:3 p.m., the astronomer had just finished work for the day, and as he was trying to exit the facility pertaining to the University of California, Berkeley, he came across two men he had never spotted before.
The two strangers were roaming around Campbell Hall’s second floor, in a hallway that could normally be accessed just by authorized personnel, possessing a keycard.
Alarmed at the thought that intruders had infiltrated the building, the Berkeley astronomer promptly called 911. First responders soon arrived at the scene, and arrested the two suspects, later identified as 27-year old Jared Starkweather, and 36-year old Vincent Bradley.
Apparently, one of the two men carried tools meant to assist them in gaining forced entry into the facility, and in committing a burglary.
Upon searching the trespassers’ getaway vehicle, police officers also discovered that the men had pilfered several textbooks that had been placed on the desks of around 20 astronomy and physics experts, who had been conducting research at Campbell Hall.
Moreover, law enforcement also confiscated other similar materials, which had previously gone missing at the University of California Irving, prompting school officials to file a police report for stolen property.
Based on this substantial evidence, the two suspects were charged with theft, and taken into custody, ahead of their first court hearing.
Meanwhile, representatives of the University of California Police Department have praised the Berkeley astronomer for playing a vital role in the arrest of the two intruders and for being so quick-witted and unflappable even when facing imminent danger.
Maybe Isaacson is yet to find an exoplanet capable of harboring extraterrestrial life, but he did facilitate the retrieval of important textbooks and research notes, which may one day lay the foundation for a ground-breaking discovery.
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