Gordon Berstein drives to his job as a professor at the University of California, La Jolla. While cruising in his 1958 Chevy, he is taken aback at just how much space California has. In New York City, where he's from, such space would be a luxury.
In the laboratory, Gordon meets with his student assistant Albert Cooper. Gordon accuses Cooper of slacking off on the job he gave him, but Albert says he hasn't screwed up at all. Sure, he went out for a few drinks on his break, but he did his job as instructed.
Cooper shows him the data to prove it.
But if Cooper didn't screw up, Gordon realizes, then that means the extra noise isn't something they are doing in their steady state experiment—the noise must be coming from somewhere else.
Gordon sets Cooper and himself the task of finding out just where that is.