‘Star Wars’ character
A huge sci-fi fan, Gabor entered a character design contest through “Star Wars Galaxy Magazine” at age 14, winning third place. As such, his “Tibannuck” has entered the “Star Wars” universe and has since been integrated into games and included in rule books. “All this stuff is semi-official canon once it appears in these magazines, which is really strange,” he said.
This electrical connector is among the first pieces of equipment Gabor received for his lab at UCR, and he keeps it as something for his hands to tinker with while thinking, noting he is rarely without it. This kind of connector is typically used to connect coaxial cables used for radio frequency electronics. “It’s the symbol of our interaction with electronics and like the fingertips of the machine in a sense — this is how we shake hands with machines,” he said. “In experimental physics, we talk about that a lot, how we’re basically communing with machines all the time.”
‘Warhammer’ titan sculpture
Gabor, an active “Warhammer” blogger, spent roughly nine months constructing this sculpture. He intricately painted each piece, adapting techniques he learned from his father’s model railroading. The figure, which can be used as an actual game piece, is held together by magnets. Gabor had a newborn at the time he built the titan, and he recalled sleepless nights, rocking his baby in one arm while cutting plastic in the other. He has shown the sculpture at conventions in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
A former avid painter, Gabor would create live paintings during friends’ music shows, often completing full works within a few hours. This piece hangs in the hallway beside his office. It began as an oil painting, now displayed as a postcard print in his door, which he then overlaid with a digital rendering of a carbon nanotube — a tube of carbon atoms in a hexagonal pattern that have several applications in physics and engineering. Originally used as an illustration for a paper, this image has now appeared in numerous places, including as the website banner for the Kavli Institute at Cornell.
Gabor has a large collection of dice, several of which he keeps in his office, including the iconic 20-sided die from the roleplaying game “Dungeons and Dragons,” and 120-sided dice designed by mathematicians, which he notes is the largest volume “fair” die you can make with an equally likely chance of landing on any face. “I use dice to teach a lot about physics,” he said. “In classical statistical mechanics, you use basically the statistics of dice, but you’re counting dice that have billions and trillions of sides. The rules are basically the same.”